Flyover Reveals Cattle Outnumber Wild Horses 10 to 1

Unedited Documented Account by Craig Downer

Report on Flight from Truckee Airport (CA) passing over various mountain ranges and valleys to the Owyhee Wild Horse Herd Management Area (whhma), Rock Creek whhma, and Little Humboldt whhma.  (Ill. w/ digital photos taken on flight.)

Photo by Craig Downer

Elko District, Bureau of Land Management, North Central Nevada, ca. 80 miles NW of Elko. Note: wh is abbreviation for wild horse(s)

Flight realized on Monday, June 21, 2010, Summer solstice.

Dates of report preparation 6/24-25/2010.

Background: Three whhma’s encompass > 482,000 acres of which 336,262 acres are in the Owyhee whhma, 102,638 acres in the Rock Creek whhma and 15,734 acres in the Little Humboldt whhma.  Northern portions of the Owyhee whhma occur in the Columbia Plateau physiographic region, but most are in the Great Basin physiographic region.  Drought and lack of forage due to fires are being cited by BLM officials as reasons for the drastic reduction of these wild horse herds. BLM plans to gather 1,548 wild horses (the currently estimated total population) and to put back only 399, or which 195 would be PZPed mares with 2-year sterilization effects.  This works out to leaving one wild horse per 1,200+ acres – an extreme marginalizing of this species by any standard and very contrary to the “principal” presence mandate of the Wild Horse Act.

Objective: To observe wild horses, their numbers and conditions, note their locations and the ecological condition of their habitat and to observe and note the livestock present in the whhma’s, their numbers and relative proportions vis-à-vis the wild horses, their areas of concentration and ecological effects.

Flight arranged by Lighthawk organization to assist with the gathering of factual information and data concerning the conservation of wild horses on public lands.

Observer and reporter: Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist, P.O. Box 456, Minden, NV 89423. ccdowner@yahoo.com. Equipped with D-80 Nikon digital camera with 28-300 zoom lens loaned by wild horse supporter.

Weather: Clear with high, wispy cirrus clouds, conducive to greater flight stability due to less atmospheric convection.

Airport of Origin and Return: Truckee Airport, California, west of Reno.

Time of departure: 8:30 AM.  Pass over Reno airport flying over Pah Rah Range, a legal wild horse herd area that has been “zeroed out” by BLM.  No wild horses observed here, contrary to statement by Mr. Larry Johnson of the national wh/b advisory board on 6/15/10, Denver meeting, though considerable spring green-up, or grassy vegetation is observed.  Our plan is to refuel at the Winnemucca Airport to the east.

10:00 AM. Note vast extension of purple hued Bromus tectorum, a.k.a. Cheat Grass, as plane nears Winnemucca.  Velocity: 109 knots. Headwind 10 mph from east.

10:30 AM: Land at Winnemucca Airport.  Unfortunately the airport has run out of fuel.  We will fly to Battle Mountain Airport to the east to fuel up. We depart at 10:55 AM.

11:12 AM: Flying over portions of Sonoma Range to SE of Winnemucca, I note many cattle (est. 400) mainly grouped around water sources.  No wild horses observed.  The Sonoma Range Herd Area (NV0223) should have a fair number of protected wild horses, but BLM officials have decided to not manage for them, i.e. to “zero out” in this 150,999-acre herd area (Fiscal Year 2008 USDI Public Lands Statistics).  Prevalence of green grass noted, including much purplish cheat grass.  Some short aspen groves noted around springs at higher elevations.  Enormous open pit mines observed and photographed en route.  These have major detrimental effects on water, soil, air, wildlife and human health in the region, including underground water flow disruption and water pollution with mercury, nitrous and sulphuric acid leachates, etc.

11:36 AM:  We land at the Battle Mountain Airport for refueling.  Fortunately fuel is available here.

12:10 PM: After refueling and eating lunch, we take off from Battle Mountain Airport.  We plan to fly to the town of Midas then over portions of the Little Humboldt whhma, Rock Creek whhma then on to Owyhee whhma, reaching the South Fork Owyhee River.

12:43 PM: North of Midas, in the Little Humboldt whhma, seven groups of ca. 12 cattle are seen, for a total of 84.  No wild horses observed. Abundant grass here, also large open pit mine. Photos.

12:49 PM: Finally a band is observed consisting of one gray and one sorrel, a male-female pair. Geographical Positioning System (GPS) reading: N 41 deg 21.37 min; W 116 deg 43.6 min.  Photos.

12:54 PM:  Group of 17 wild horses observed. GPS: N 41 deg 23.19 min; W 116 deg 41.0 min.  Appears to be two wh bands in association. Abundant grass & water present. Photos.

12:56 PM:  Another band with 9 wh’s including 2 foals encountered and photographed.  GPS: N 41 deg 23.3 min; W 116 deg 35.56 min.

12:59 PM: Band of 6 wh’s including one foal spotted & photographed. GPS: N 41 deg 21.36 min; W 116 deg 33.12 min.

1:02 PM.  Congregation of several wh bands spotted & photographed. GPS: N 41 deg 22.85 min; W 116 deg 32.3 min.  8 bands with following numbers of wild horses observed: 8, 11, 9, 4, 9, 8, 7, 12.  Plane circled around to extensively photograph these.  Sum of wh’s in this congregation: 68.  Note: This is an upland habitat with plenty of green grass and water sources.  This is north of Willow Creek Reservoir near 7,020-foot-high Soldier Cap mountain in the Rock Creek whhma.

1:07 PM: Another band of 7 wh’s seen to SW.  Light colored wh’s. Photos.  GPS: N 41 deg 25.75 min; W 116 deg 29.2 min.  Ca. 400  cattle observed along a stream and meadow near here. GPS. N 41 deg 28.85 min; W 116 deg 28.44 min.  Ca. 300 more cattle congregated along a tributary of the above stream. GPS: N 41 deg 32.06 min; W 116 deg 28.1 min.

1:11 PM: Estimated 1,000 cattle observed up to 1:18 PM at GPS: N 41 deg 44.16 min; W 116 deg 25.14 min. Area devoid of wh’s.

1:21 PM: Owyhee Desert – high altiplano (Spanish for high plateau) noted to north.

1:24 PM: Ca. 40 cattle noted by South Fork of Owyhee River. No wh’s.  We fly along Owyhee River.  GPS: N 41 deg 5.6 min; W 116 deg 34.8 min.

We aim to fly to Capital Peak.  Flying along the S. Fork of the Owyhee River, we have not seen any more wild horses, but much evidence of dedication of the land to livestock, e.g. frequent reservoirs, water tanks, fences, grass pasture and hay fields, etc.  See photos.

1:26 PM: We continue to note considerable spring green-up of vegetation, though today is the first official day of summer.

1:30 PM: GPS: N 41 deg 55.83 min; W 116 deg 45.7 min. No livestock or wild horses.  Several water catchments have been excavated by caterpillar.  Incidentally, when they wallow wild horses created such natural catchments for wildlife much less intrusively.

1:34 PM: Another congregation of wild horses spotted in open high plain with trailings.  41 wh’s group together, estimated from 5 bands.  Another band of 7 wild horses containing dark grayish blacks amid lighter grays and sorrels. Photos.  These bands centered around the following GPS: N 41 deg 56.2 min; W 116 deg 48.2 min.

Another group of 15 wh’s spotted, including grays, roans, sorrels and blacks.  This is possibly 2 bands running together.  Same general GPS location.

Cattle - Photo by Craig Downer

1:38 PM: Observed another nearby congregation including 1 band of 6 wh’s, 1 group of 23 wh’s (possibly 3 separate bands), 1 band of 5 wh’s.  I note sparser, drier habitat here and many trails.  It appears that these wild horses are being relegated to this area by a system of fences that favor livestock.  My earlier entry into the northeastern portion of the Owyhee whhma a couple of months ago revealed extensive fencing and control of water to favor the intensive management of livestock, especially cattle.

1:41 PM: We spot another congregation of 12 wild horse bands.  GPS: N 41 deg 57.7 min; W 116 deg 51.3 min.  Groupings with the following numbers were encountered: 13 (2 bands) 22 (3 bands), 15 (2 bands), 7, 9, 10, 7, & 9 wild horses.  Extensive photos except for last band of 9.  Judging from the converging trails from the distinctive individual band home ranges, his summer solstice congregation appear to be trailing to and from a water source.  The total number here is 92 wh’s.

1:43 PM: We decide to return to south, to Battle Mountain to refuel, as our small plane requires frequent refueling.  A band of 7 wild horses is photographed at GPS: N 41 deg 53.8 min; W 116 deg 52.1 min near an artificial reservoir.  Many white ant hills dot the terrain.

Ranch over-flown at GPS: N 41 deg 51.18 min; W 116 deg 52.27 min.  No wh’s seen.  Remnant snow banks from large winter drifts at ca. 5500 feet elevation. GPS: N 41 deg 47.3 min; W 116 deg 53.18 min.  No more wild horses seen.

1:50 PM.  Rusty orange water tank spotted.  GPS: N 41 deg 43.24 min; W 116 deg 53.38 min.  Vegetation is dry and parched, very possibly due to rancher’s monopolizing water from highland drainages.  Sparse stunted vegetation.  Old pioneer wagon trail seen running E-W, since the old ruts from Conestoga wagons remain in delicate desert ecosystem.

1:55 PM: GPS: N 41 deg 34.7 min; W 116 deg 53.3 min.  Neither wild horses nor livestock observed in this dry region.  Many ant nests, several water catchments. Low topographical relief in this high altiplano.

2:00 PM: Flying over another ranch. GPS: N 41 deg 29.65 min; W 117 deg 0.3 min.  Big meadows and streams.  Ranch is monopolizing a large portion of the water for many miles around here for raising livestock.  Big reservoir to west along major ranch road is Chimney Reservoir.  I observe ca 500 cattle in this area.

2:06 PM: One band of 7 wild horses is observed to the east.  GPS: N 41 deg 23.3 min; W 117 deg 01.07 min.  Green up of vegetation is noted in high altiplano.  Many cattle whose number is estimated at ca. 1,000 profusely dot the landscape, especially around water sources such as streams and springs.

2:10 PM: GPS: N 41 deg 12.87 min; W 117 deg 01.10 min.  Ca. 300 cattle present, especially in and around water drainages and also in higher areas in groups of ca 70.  No wild horses observed.

2:20 PM: Nearing Battle Mountain Airport.  No more wild horses observed.

2:47 PM: Refuel at Battle Mountain Airport.  High overcast.  Much more grass this year compared with recent years according to the lady attending airport.  But are the wild horses getting their fair share of this in their legal herd areas?!

3:06 PM: Take off from Battle Mountain to return via Reno to Truckee Airport in Sierra Nevada mountains, over-flying dry and desolate Humboldt Sink.  Very strong jolt to plane cuts pilot’s hand flying over Reno at 4:45 PM.  Gravity measured at ca. –1.

5:00 PM.  Land at Truckee Airport.  6 ½ hours total flight time.

Tabulations of Totals Observed during Flight over 3 whhma’s: Owyhee, Rock Creek & Little Humboldt.

Wild Horses Observed during Flight

Number of Bands    Number of Horses    GPS Location

1                                  2                                  N 41 deg 21.37 min; W 116 deg 43.6 min

2                                  17                                N 41 deg 23.19 min; W 116 deg 41.0 min

1                                  9 (w/ 2 foals)           N 41 deg 23.3 min; W 116 deg 35.56 min

1                                  6 (w 1 foal)                N 41 deg 21.36 min; W 116 deg 33.12 min

1                                  8                                  N 41 deg 22.85 min; W 116 deg 32.3 min

1                                  11                                ditto   (Rock Creek whhma congregation

1                                  9                                  ditto    68 wild horses)

1                                  4                                  ditto

1                                  9                                  ditto

1                                  8                                  ditto

1                                  7                                  ditto

1                                  12                                ditto

1                                  7                                  N 41 deg 25.75 min; W 116 deg 29.2 min

5                                  41                                N 41 deg 56.2 min; W 116 deg 48.2 min

1                                  7                                  ditto

2                                  15                                ditto

1                                  6                                  ditto

3                                  23                                ditto

1                                  5                                  ditto

2                                  13                                N 41 deg 57.7 min; W 116 deg 51.3 min

3                                  22                                ditto

2                                  15                                ditto

1                                  7                                  ditto

1                                  9                                  ditto

1                                  10                                ditto

1                                  7                                  ditto

1                                  9                                  ditto

1                                  7                               N 41 deg 53.8 min; W 116 deg 52.1 min

1                                  7                                N 41 deg 23.3 min; W 117 deg 01.07 min

Total Bands    Total Wild Horses

41 ——————— 312

Cattle Observed during Flight

Number of Cattle        GPS Location

84                                                                Little Humboldt whhma. Ca N 41 deg 20 min; W 116 deg 45 m

400                                                            N 41 deg 32.06 min; W 116 deg 28.44 min

300                                                            N 41 deg 32.06 min; W 116 deg 28.1 min

1000                                                        N 41 deg 44.16 min; W 116 deg 25.14 min

40                                                                N 41 deg 5.6 min; W 116 deg 34.8 min

500                                                            N 41 deg 29.65 min; W 117 deg 00.3 min

300                                                            N 41 deg 12.87 min; W 117 deg 01.10 min

1000                                                        N 41 deg 23.3 min; W 117 deg 01.07 min

Total Cattle Observed

3,624

Conclusion:

Wild horses were observed to be present in only the very small portion of the three wild horse herd management areas that was over-flown and are certainly not being treated as the principal presences within their legal herd areas as required by the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.  The horses I observed were in good condition, although Their numbers are dwarfed by livestock, even within these their legal areas.  This is the fault of our public servants, namely BLM officials in charge of protecting and managing this national heritage species at thriving, long-term-viable levels.  Reform is urgently needed. This could be accomplished through a revised version of the Restore Our American Mustangs bill (ROAM Senate Bill # 1579).   This important bill has already been substantially passed by the House of Representatives but currently is being stopped by powerful vested interests in the Senate.  It now languishes in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Pressure is urgently needed to get this moving again before it dies with the ending of the present Congress later this year.  The planned roundup of the Owyhee, Rock Creek and Little Humboldt whhma’s needs to be called off; and a more objective assessment of relative numbers and resource allocations needs to be undertaken with the aim of restoring fairer mustang population numbers in this vast and spectacular region.  BLM should exercise its authority under Code of Federal Regulations 4710.5 & .6 to cut back on livestock in order to accomplish this.

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48 comments on “Flyover Reveals Cattle Outnumber Wild Horses 10 to 1

  1. I don’t know how they can remove what they are going to have trouble even finding. Heck they just about have to go out and get them one at a time since they are so few dispersed upon these hundreds of thousands of acres. Maybe they can stampede the cattle back home.

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  2. Only 3 foals observed? According to the BLM 20% increase per year, there should have been about 62 babies. Even using the NIS 10% low number, there should have been about 30. Hey, BLM – SHOW ME THE SCIENCE!

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    • Craig will be looking for more foals in his photos. This is very disturbing when there should be more than 30, not just 3. I cannot help but wonder if there is criminal mischief involved here. mar

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    • Another case of talking with forked tongue. In one blog it was reported (I have not checked myself yet) that in response to the abortions at Calico, BLM reported that only 20% of wild horse pregnancies deliver a live foal in the wild. On the other hand, they use domestic reproduction rates (or what?) to indicate some 20% herd increase a year. One recent report on one of our advocate pages, BLM reported a decline in one particular HMA from about 1985 to 2002 (+/-?), on its own, but they did a round up anyway, and since starting roundups the herd size has increased about 12% a year.

      Also that same report indicates herd numbers fluctuating 300 and 400 horses to 100 and then next count, they go from 100 to 400 and 500, horses without explanation. Coincidentally, these counts become their basis for more roundups.

      These are BLMs own numbers!

      So I am done thinking that BLM does not understand wild horses. I think they figured out this increase in foaling caused by roundups a long time ago and said – KA-CHING$$$$$!

      Lots of KA-CHINING $ going on with our taxes.

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  3. This was a good mission and Craig has shown us there may not be as many horses, again, as the BLM wants to remove. There are barely the number of horses they are supposed to leave on the range! There is no reason for this roundup to even occur unless BLM can prove there are actually excess horses! We entered into Little Humboldt and Rock Creek and the lower Owyhee this May. We saw hundreds of cows and only sign from a few horses, maybe only one, in a canyon. There was no other sign of horses at all. There is plenty of water. There are reservoirs and ditches with water in them. We entered from the Oregon side, North of Owyhee and found a succession of groomed allotments, all with fences and the further south we came to Owyhee we found gates shut and water all kept for cattle. There was absolutely no sign of horses at all. I realize that there may still be more than 312 horses on this large range but this roundup stinks and should be stopped as BLM will zero out this designated wild horse range and we will be stuck looking for legal ways to reverse it. Reversing what BLM does appears to be far more difficult than stopping them. Stop them we must. There are not enough horses to warrent the roundup or the removals. mar

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  4. Craig, thank you so much – Excellent! Keep these observations coming!

    I know there is a financial constraint; sorry I can’t help with that right now, anyone that can please donate to Herd Watch.

    I am on the blogs daily getting people to check out our issues. Be on your Ps and Qs with new people asking questions please (I know I am guilty of being impatient myself).

    If we just answer the questions, provide links to proof and evidence, talk dollars and cents, and real numbers like this article, not get raddled (like I do) how can people not see what is going on?

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  5. Now this is how a “real” scientist observes and reports! Craig should be in a plane that “shadows” the BLM bean counters when they do their “so-called count”. And he should definitely do a workshop for the BLM to educate them on the powers of accurate observation and the difference between a cow and horse!

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  6. Roxy – You ask how can people not see what’s going on? But people do this all the time – Especially when information concerns the treatment of non-humans (who cares?) and when the information will effect “bottom line”. It’s horribly infuriating – I agree.

    There’s a saying in the book “Eating Animals” by JS Foer that applies here: “It is impossible to awaken someone who pretends to be asleep.” I think that is exactly what’s happening in this instance.

    I am sickened by the “cattle industry” and all “livestock” “owners” for many reasons – This latest report just reinforces my disdain. 😦

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    • Bea, good post. Another phrase I like “It’s hard to get a man to change when his livelyhood depends on the status quo.” Something like that.

      Its a fight, not doubt. But we can change peoples minds with the truth and facts, and of course talking dollars and cents that are coming out of their own pockets directly into the pockets of CEOs and Execs. Check out some portfolios for Hilton, Hewlit Packard, Anahieser Bush, ask some really pointed questions about who benefits from these sweet BLM deals, who gets bonuses for what – I wager, and I’m not a betting type, its sure not the share holders!

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  7. Unreal. BLM overestimates by almost 5 times the number of wild horses actually there. Even with a margin of error, they are overestimating by 3.5-4x. Criminal negligence and/or criminal intent to exterminate, what else can it be? They are DEFINITELY NOT upholding the 1972 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act!

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    • If you read the revisions to the 1971 Act it becomes very scary. You can find it on The Cloud Foundation. It is a must read for everyone. Legislation is necessary. As long as The Cloud Foundation is supporting ROAM I am too. Its not perfect, but what we have now, on the books, is “legal” action by BLM – they are NOT actiing illegally – THAT is what must be changed.

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      • Sadly, one of the best wild horse and burro advocates in the Senate has passed.

        Sen Robert Byrd-(D) WV expired around 3 am, Eastern time this morning, 28 Jun.

        He had been ill for some time and was the longest serving Senator in history; love him or hate him, he tried to help our, America’s horses.

        I am pained to think of what will happen with the legislation now.

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      • Heaven bless Senator Byrd. I have no doubt when he reached the Rainbow Bridge he was welcomed across by the animals on the other side.

        Earlier this year I emailed the Senator, asking if he could suggest a colleague who might continue his work for animal welfare. Unfortunately, I never received a reply. There already supporters in the House. Now we must find a powerful senator who will be a champion for animals and carry on Senator Byrd’s legacy.

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  8. Thank you Craig for this report. I live in the northeast and am horrified at these numbers— and the numbers of used-to-be-wild horses kept in the holding pens. What good is the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act when the herds are being zeroed-out– and their legally designated lands ( and water) used for thousands of cattle? Please keep working for the horses— this is total mismanagement of lands, horses, and taxpayer dollars. Where is President Obama in this crisis?

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  9. This is MADDENING!! Isn’t there a higher force above the President & his inept administration, to over-rule & STOP the BLM in their “tracks”?? How can they possibly round up even more wild horses, when there are hardly any left in the wild?Can’t WE, the people, do anything to stop them? All this talk & commenting is fine & great,but, what about the horses, their time is running out!!?? Since actions speak louder than words, maybe we need to do something bigger than a protest, something that WILL get their attention, & KNOW that we mean business!! This is getting bigger than just trying to save our wild horses, this has become a battleground to fight for our very own rights & FREEDOM!!The BLM/government is attacking us, our spirit, & all that is good & right.

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    • Push for an end to the Welfare Ranching scheme.

      There are lawsuits now agianst BLM – we need to piggy back on that and call DC and our congress reps to at least support these suits, but even more. The real solution is to wipe out Welfare Ranching on our Public Lands – that is one huge saving for our wild horses.

      Search CATO Insittute Policy Analysis on Welfare Ranching, 1997.

      Anne are you out there? I have misplaced those links – can you provide them again please?

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  10. Thanks Craig and all that participated in this effort. We need this data, science and knowledge to battle the equine whackers.

    I hope this report (among others) is utilized in ALL pending legislation and legal actions.

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  11. Thank you Craig! Once again you have done what the BLM is not able to do-get off their butts and go out to count the wild horses. I wonder how long it will take them to do the same thing you have done. It will take them twice as long to “add” their numbers as well.

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    • DOI/BLM and the state equine whackin’ agencies DON’T WANT TO KNOW REAL, SCIENTIFIC ANYTHING WHEN IT COMES TO OUR WILD ONES.

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  12. Thank you for this good complete report. what happened to ALL the spring foals? did they shoot the foals? or make the wild horses starve off last winter by fencing them in to small a area?

    Now lets see the difference with the BLMs report.
    I’ll make a guess what the BLM will do.

    The BLM will move the cattle off and blame any land damage of cattle on horses! and the BLM contracter may even place in 1,000 horses, so he can pay himself to roundup something. thus stealing Gov. money.

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  13. oh just a fleeting thought. The areas you saw where someone used a cat,heavy equpt. to move earth.

    How do we know there aren’t hundreds of dead wild horses buried under that earth? because the BLM hides everything and their main contracter is a criminal horse killer, how do we know they didn’t kill off horses on that range last year before they put out hundreds of cattle?

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    • Very good thought Laura…I don’t put the possibilities of such a covert action by the Feds/States beyond their capabilities. Of course, it could be water, fire-break or some legitimate activity too.

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  14. Perhaps the link to this report by Craig (well done by the way Craig) should be sent to every member of the Senate as well as the Prez, V.Prez, Ken Salazar (I’d love to hear his comments) and his BLM henchmen to show them what an accurate count should and does look like and then be required to comment publicly on the findings and their intentions concerning rounding up this “overabundance” of wild horses in this HMA.

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    • Hi, Linda “purple”, I’m Linda “green”. R.T., does one of us need to change her screen name so people will understand who’s making which comments?

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      • That’s up to you, Linda Green. I am now thankful that we are not using those little auto generated monster icons as it could get kind of messy around here.

        I wonder if they have a bald one, for me?

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  15. Silver springs HMA-660,000 acres(complex of 8 HMAs) allowing only 60 non breeding animals to remain, all mares PZPd– 60/40 stallion ratio..1 horse for every 10,000 acres…58,000 cattle on those 660,000 acres many sheep..about 1/2 of these allotments are year round..1 horse for every 1,000 domesticated livestock…Keep in mind this is the first EA since the Denver workshop..its the worst I have read

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    • I forgot to add, they are rounding up all horses for removal on this first gather..they estimate they will only get 80% of the herd..they will come back the next year round up again..like they also plan to do on the calico- and PZP ALL mares and adjust stallion ratios…this is another calico…in all likelyhood there will be but a handful of horses left.

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    • Do you see this as an opportunity for the inadequacies of the Calico lawsuit to be corrected in another legal challenge?

      Calico was and continues to be a tragedy. Silver Springs will be horrific.

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  16. This is a excellent series!!

    Take a look at this “Canadian Geographic” about THEIR canadian last wild horses and their discovery of prehistoric wild horse remains with tools from man! This is proof how an animal that has only one young a year can be pushed to extincition by even a SMALL bit of pressure from humans.

    ……”””Will this breed survive? In the rugged Rocky Mountain foothills of southern Alberta and the remote interior of central B.C., a once hardy and abundant band of wild horses now faces an uncertain future.
    Their ancient ancestors once roamed the Canadian plains, sharing the terrain with the giant wholly mammoth. But the North American horse was eventually driven to extinction. Eleven thousand years later, Spanish conquistadors returned the horses to the West, where they re-settled into their original range.

    By the end of the 19th century, 50,000 grazed Alberta and B.C.’s grasslands, but now, only a few hundred wander the forested foothills and many are worried the wild mustangs may once again become extinct.

    In The Last Wild Mustangs, catch a rare glimpse of these stunning creatures and the fight to preserve them……….

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  17. You can also catch “Last of the Spanish Mustangs” on Netflix. Really good, I’ll be buying it soon.

    I’ll be watching “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” next.

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  18. Speaking of colors – just look at that picture at the top and so many others we have of the horses.

    Is there one other single wild animal, other than perhaps birds and butterflyes, that displays such dramatic range of colors or patterns of colors that roam together – anywhere in the world?

    (Besides feral dog and cat packs – I don’t count them in this category of course.)

    I mean, zebras are pretty darn interesting, but they are all zebras! Same for tigers, giraffs, etc.

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  19. Recently Craig Downer issued a report purporting to show “sparse horse populations, many cows in wild horse area.” In his “report,” he concluded that there were only 312 horses and 3,624 cattle observed on the approximately 482,000 acres that make up the Owyhee Herd Management Area (HMA), Little Humboldt HMA, and Rock Creek HMA. Mr. Downer goes on to list the GPS coordinates and time codes associated with those coordinates. If one takes his coordinates and time codes and puts them on a map of the area, you will notice that Mr. Downer spent less than one hour of actual flight time over the HMAs. He touched on the very southern and northern boundaries of the HMAs. At 1:11 p.m., Mr. Downer states that he “estimated 1,000 cattle observed …. area devoid of wh’s.” What he does not note is that GPS: N 41 deg 44.16 min; W 116 deg 25.14 min is not even close to the HMA boundary, and is all on private property — not public land at all. In fact, of the 22 GPS coordinates provided by Mr. Downer, only 11 of those are actually within the HMA boundaries and of those 11, four are on or are partially on private property. His count can in no way be deemed an accurate interpretation of the number of wild horses on the Owyhee, Humboldt, and Rock Creek HMAs. The BLM spent several days conducting a thorough population inventory over the same area. Our agency has 86 GPS points and our conclusion is that there are approximately 1,550 wild horses living on the three HMAs.

    In addition, prior to the BLM conducting any population inventories, various public meetings, flight plans, notifications, etc., are conducted and finalized.

    The allegation that the BLM’s employees do not care about wild horses is false. The Wild Horse and Burro Program is full of dedicated, hard-working professionals who are doing the very best they can to ensure the health of America’s wild horses. Most program employees are horse owners and are very knowledgeable about horses and the horse industry in general.

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    • Shayne Banks, The problem with the BLM count is it was not witnessed by the any public person. The information and the numbers we have been getting from BLM are never substantiated by independent research or any other method except by GAO who feel you need to use science in order to make decisions. I think this is true, also. If the new protocol has done anything it has shown us that BLM is still not working with any elements aside from cattle, mining/energy and this is misrepresenting ‘multiple use’ down to single use for private profits. The horses are needed to be accessible and not harassed and whittled away at the way they are. The inaccuracy of the figures will likely continue to play a decisive role in the fate of OUR wild horses and the few burros who have not yet been picked off. BLM needs to have accountability and they do not have that with very many Americans. Except their good buddies with cattle, mining and energy. The Calico area was to be flown over again. But how can a contested count be believes when there are no independent witnesses?? mar

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    • I have a three questions for S. Banks. Actually, I have allot more, but three will do for now.

      1. Maybe others know who you are and what you do for the BLM, but I don’t. Where do you work, what is your title, and what are your credentials?

      2. So far I haven’t read any official BLM report on either this survey or the other one that is being conducted as “verification”. I think it’s premature to divulge what I imagine is proprietary information before the agency has compilied and published its report. Who authorized this release, or did you take it upon yourself?

      3. Did anybody bother to count the cows ???

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    • Mr. Banks,

      The MAJOR difference is, the BLM never-ever has pictures or 24/7 public webcams to support their reports.

      IMO, there is something deceptive,your employees, hide in ‘text only reports’.

      I would not put it past some of the employees with criminal records to trailer/move in horses to sway the numbers.

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    • “”The allegation that the BLM’s employees do not care about wild horses is false. The Wild Horse and Burro Program is full of dedicated, hard-working professionals who are doing the very best they can to ensure the health of America’s wild horses. Most program employees are horse owners and are very knowledgeable about horses and the horse industry in general.”” Banks6/2010

      All these knowledgeable ‘horse owners’ run their pregnant mares and foals with aircraft ? which ones let their mares foal on manure? live in blowing sand with no shade? thats against the law in most states ya know?

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  20. The “report” filed by Mr. Downer does not contain any information pertaining to the Calico Complex. He did not fly over the Calico Complex or even near it. He flew over the 3 HMAs that are part of the Tuscarora Complex. The BLM conducted their population inventory for this area in May, 2010.

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    • Shayne Banks,

      “The Calico area was to be flown over again” meaning to see how many horses are left after the roundup. BLM has stated that they have seen a number of bands of 20 and 30 horses, our observers have seen scant numbers, and no bands over 7 (I think, is that correct?). Point is BLM has video “recorded” lies, they are all over the internet – how are we to believe anything from you?

      And since you brought it up where are BLM’s pictures of these Calico bands of 20 to 30 horses? And what stallion has a band of 19 – 29 mares?

      BAck to this proposed gather site – of your 86 GPS points, which ones are closest to Craig’s 7 that you claim are the only ones over hmas and what numbers does BLM count for those same GPS locations?

      And of the 4 that border hmas which ones are closest to your 86 GPS points and what are your numbers for those?

      And of course you used independent observers as the revised 1971 legislation requires, correct?

      Where on the BLM web site can this be accessed in the spirit of transparency?

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      • Thanks Roxie, This is Shayne Banks, Public Relations for the BLM, Eastern States?? I believe. I was very aware of where Craig Downer flew as I have been to the edges of Owyhee myself. I was referring to the Calico fly over as also being contested; the one after the roundup stating there were maybe 600 horses left. I have not heard what you came up with for the May, Tuscarora fly over. Craig has flown over the Calico complex as well as driven in a number of times and the numbers do not add up. It has been suggested that BLM does, at times, count cows. We do not know who the people are who are doing any of this work. The secrecy has never been necessary and it is not a matter of National Security what is going on with the wild horses. If it is the public needs to be appraised of all the reasons why they are being kept out of the information on our wild herds for decades. Got any answers to that, Shayne Banks? mar

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  21. Shayne when BLM starts issuing reports that consistently hold the same information and don’t differ from report to report and start bringing the public into the mix then we will believe the BLM. With a long history of very questionable behavior we have no reason to trust either the personnel or the reports issued. As was stated on another blog why is it that civilians go into combat zones with various military troops but it isn’t safe for them to fly with the BLM over unarmed horses and cows? Until the BLM begins to demonstrate the transparency called for and the use of legitimate science also mandated by our President this agency will remain suspect in every aspect.

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  22. Shayne–The DOI/BLM is NOT transparent and they could better spend my money on reporting accurate numbers using INDEPENDENT observors to verify. The same goes for the Gulf mess with BP and the US Government collaborating on the long term damage to our environment. I and many other citizens have participated in the DOI Open Interior program, as well as attended BLM Advisory meetings and have not seen one(1) response or compromise on the BLM/DOI side. NO mediation, no compromise–I guess take no survivors–BLM is right the rest of us are wrong.
    The DOI/BLM could better spend our tax dollars getting rid of “spin doctors” and use that money to get the horses in holding pens adopted. Case in point–upcoming adoption on the East Coast in Harrington Delaware, middle of July. Where are the internet pictures–where are these horses from—why are some of the horses starting at $25.00? And why would the BLM bring these horses in to sell the week before the Chincoteague pony swim and sale competing with the locals and their money raising efforts. Chincoteague is not that far away from Harrington Delaware.

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