Horse News

The BLM Show: “How to Twist Figures and Get Away with It”

(In Our Humble Opinion) by Lisa LeBlanc and R.T. Fitch

Just for fun, imagine Ms. Average American standing on stage and questioning our main actor, Mr. BLiM…it’s a short play but one we  are confident that you will find interesting.


Ms. Average American: Mr BLiM, is it your assertion that in 2005, the Wild Horse and Burro on-the-range population estimate was 31,760 animals?

Mr. BLiM: Yup.

Ms. Average American: And that 11,023 Wild Horses and Burros were ‘gathered’, an actual number published in your Public Land Statistics?

Mr. BLiM: Uh-huh.

Ms. Average American: So, 31,760 animals minus 11,023 animals would leave 20,737 Equids on public lands.  Would that be correct?  If so we will use this as our baseline number.

Mr. BLiM: Okey dokey.

Ms. Average American: But, Mr. BLiM, you also assert that the following year, in 2006, the population estimate for on-the-range animals was 31,206.

Mr.BLiM: Das right.

Ms. Average American: So, Mr. BLiM, from the baseline of 20,737 animals in 2005, 31,206 animals were estimated the following year in 2006, correct?

Mr. BLiM: Sounds about right.

Ms. Average American: That is an increase in population of 10,469 animals. That’s a little over 50% more animals. How is that possible, Mr. BLiM?

Mr. BLiM: They are active little rascals.

Ms. Average American: Ok, Mr. BLiM. Let’s do one more example. In 2007, the population estimate was 28,563.

Mr. BLiM: Correct.

Ms. Average American: And 7,726 Wild Horses and Burros were actually ‘gathered’?

Mr. BLiM: Gotta keep those chopper contractors in groceries.

Ms. Average American: Leaving a baseline of 20,837 animals.

Mr. BLiM: You’re good at math.

Ms. Average American: But in 2008, the population estimate was 33,105 animals.

Mr. BLiM: Yes

Ms. Average American: And that is an increase of 12,268 animals.

Mr. BLiM: Spot on.

Ms. Average American: That’s over 60% more animals in a year, Mr. BLiM. Again, how is that possible? That would mean that more than half the animals left not rounded up would’ve had to have been pregnant.

Mr. BLiM: All those mustangs think about is sex.


From 2001 to 2006, the BLM’s roundups averaged 11,000 Wild Horses & Burros a year. In the past three years, they have slowed those numbers down considerably;

7,726 in 07

5,275 in 08

6,413 in 09

If they had continued along the previous trend, there would be around 18,400 Wild Horses & Burros left on the range this year, 2010. The BLM knew they were getting dangerously close zeroing out ALL wild horses and burros.

Their population estimates (60%??!) are questionable, but with the roundups removing 101,052 (actual numbers), from 2000 to the Present, and the BLM’s estimated population increases at 84,326 for the same time period, that’s a difference of only 16,726 animals.

They have to estimate high; this year’s ‘estimate’ by Bob Abbey in his ‘Roll Call’ article – 38,400 – is ridiculous. (They rounded up 6400 in 09, but assert the population still increased by 7800 anyway.)

In our humble opinion, we may have less than 20,000 Wild Horses and Burros on the ranges, TODAY!

Oh, and they still plan to remove more than 5000 more before close of FY2010, too.

Confused, yet?

47 replies »

  1. Oh heck how they make my head spin. No wonder I have a bottle of aspirin next to my computer. I had a really mean math teacher I should sic on them.


  2. Ms. LeBlanc…OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!!!!

    The equines, wild and domestic don’t make my head spin; those that abuse and kill them make my head hurt and my heart ache.

    LIARS! Incompetent, cruel, malfeasant CRIMINALS! And Congress AND the Prez let them do it with OUR money.

    Watched the Prez interviewed….know what the topic was in Katrina town via the “journalist”? …..the stoopid Muslim and not born in the US….STILL!!!!!

    God! Our country is full of morons, many with high paying jobs controlling our news and futures.


  3. And Lisa….

    I don’t think anyone concerned about wild or domestic equines is confused about anything, EXCEPT the inaction of Congress, the Prez and courts plus the unfettereed budget approval process and authorization by Congress that continues the extermination plans funding. They could stop it and DON’T.


  4. It’s a shame that our government as usual, won’t do anything until they are all gone, then they will make them an endangered species & try to bring them back. It will be too late then.


  5. Now PZP is in the mix, which will futher impact the numbers left on the range. I still question wild mares cycling and being bred monthly, as I think it may lead to more attrition due to potential infections of both mares and stallions. If the PZP doesn’t take or wears off too soon, will that lead to out-of-season foals and even more deaths?

    And I’m sick of not only these “fuzzy” mathematically-derived numbers, but also the purely anectotal “evidence” resulting from non-scientific experimentation.

    I need to check the Prior Wild blog and the Assateague Abstract to try to find REAL science on wild herds, PZP and other things like herd balancing, behavior after removals, genetic manipulations, etc. Any other places I should look?


    • The Assateague ponies and PZP seems to work for them and that is because Dr.Jay Fitzpatrick administers it Yearly in the Spring. It is not the 2 year shot given when it is convenient like the BLM is doing. Foals are born each year at Assateague because each mare in the herd is allowed to breed at least once. Assateague is not a good example for the west to follow since the climate and terrain is very different.
      Lisa and RT–Math was not my best subject but at least I can add and subtract and even multiply too! Somebody needs to make a power point of this with little cartoon horses and present it far and wide!


      • Barbara, I have long thought Assateague should be THE model for the BLM. What Fitzpatrick is doing there works, it’s proven. But it isn’t used as a model. I’m curious why it would not be based on the difference in climate and terrain?

        I have been to Assateague and I live in the SW desert, so I fully understand the differences. What I don’t get is why climate and terrain would make any difference in applying the one year PZP. Getting to those Assateague ponies is just as difficult as it is out on our ranges in the west, just different kinds of difficult, not impossible. I believe the biggest issue involved is that BLM does NOT WANT to have to do the all the innoculation work in the spring and to have to do it “manually” in the field. It’s so much easier FOR THEM to use helicopters and then they can feel like round ’em up cowboys to boot. Do you have other insights on this? I bring up Assateague in every single EA and other communication I have with BLM because I feel so strongly it should be modeled.


    • Everyone start here for more info on PZP and actions to take:
      Check out this link to The Cloud Foundation to comment on PZP in the Pryors:

      Cassandra Nunez is an expert on this subject:

      Read as much as you can about PZP–search on the internet for the USGS research, Dr. Kirkpatrick’s research and anything you can find. Indiscriminate use of PZP is not the answer, as the BLM would have everyone believe.


  6. Long time advocates have said that the Feds and States NEVER followed or were punished for NOT following the 1971 Act from the start…difference now, the internet and tenacious advocates that will never go away.


  7. Thanks for the Monday morning laugh!! Y’all crack me up!!
    I always marvel at the lack of basic math skills in government. I’ve always gotten a chuckle out of the 20% per year population growth and the goofballs at the BLM saying, “That means in 4 years these horse herds will double their population!” Uhmmm … ??? Does anyone else see the flaw in that math or is it just me?


    • Lack of basic math skills by the government contributed to the failure of the levees in NO and the tapping of the well/blowout preventer at Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf….NO, I’m not surprised. However, I’m not going to tolerate stupidity, lack of enforcement or excuses on my dime. Salazar should have been FIRED. The staff should have been fired. Instead Congress and the WH give another 300+ million in stimulus to DOI and they are butchering OUR wild equines.

      And Nora…I think they think they are tracking rabbits…not equines.



      • Hey Denise — I agree. Rabbit population numbers. 🙂
        I spoke to a friend who works on Cumberland Island, where the wild horse population increases at an estimated at 4 – 7% per year. The numbers are well documented. And the thing that’s interesting to me is that the folks who work there are well aware of equine deaths, and all the ways that these horses die: injuries, foals that don’t get enough milk, horses getting themselves stuck in places they can’t get out of, old age and so on. So, there’s an understanding that there are no guarantees for survival — that nature does really take care of itself.
        But what’s happening in the BLM is a deliberate skewing of numbers — yes, LYING — without including an kind of mortality rates in ANY of their data. If some one has seen population decrease numbers, please let me know — because I have never seen any kind of indication by the BLM that horses die on their own on the range from injury or illness or even old age. Natural predators are NOT the only way that horses die.
        To not include mortality rates is deception in and of itself — and the mantra of “No natural predators” just doesn’t cut it in my book.


      • Nora – that is a most excellent point, and until you pointed it out, THAT didn’t even occur to me.

        Bureau population estimates would infer that Wild Ones never die. They just keep makin’ babies forever and ever ’til one day, they become magic dust flung about in the wind – by helicopter blades.

        Bless yer li’l heart, Nora, for being practical & vigilant.


      • I guess that’s why the 20% population increase claimed by the BLM bugs me so much. It assumes so much and doesn’t clarify anything. For example: Is the 20% — 4 year doubling of the currently reproducing herds — not counting or actually counting the up and coming re-producing mares? Does it assume that every mare that foaled last year is still alive and will foal this year? Is it suggesting that fillies born last year are capable of re-producing the following year?
        Just as importantly, if mares are rounded up/not released or given PZP and released, how can they contribute to an increase of population of the range?
        I mean, if you go on straight numbers, 20% x 4 = 80% — but then you try to add in the next generation — and don’t subtract for the mortality rate — and the numbers get so convoluted. Makes my head spin …
        Also, has any one noticed that the BLM is still saying that there are 36,000 horses in holding facilities? (At least that’s the approximate number I recently saw…) Uhmmm … they’ve rounded up how many thousand horses in the last year? Did all of those horses get adopted or is the number in holding now closer to 40,000?


      • Nora, you are not the only one watching that 36,000 benchmark sit there unmoving. It’s been there since last summer. Apparently we are to believe there have been no births in there (what of the 300 Calico at PV?), no deaths, no adoptions and no more rounded up to increase the numbers. Or even more fantastic, that all those factors kept the number unchanged. It’s just one more outrage that BLM cannot seem to account for OUR horses either on the range or after they have complete control and have them all penned up. You’d think once they had full control of these poor animals, they’d at least be able to count them. If there were a more negligent bunch of bureaucrats in government, I would be astounded to have them pointed out. These ones in the BLM with zero horsekeeping knowledge, zero wild horse/wild animal knowledge, zero genetics education, zero equine behavioral understanding, zero understanding of basic infectious disease protocol, zero comprehension of humane handling and zero math skills really take the cake.


    • This also proves that the blm makes no effort to track the horses in LTH. My question to that would be how do they know how much money to pay the private landholders they use to keep the public away. Are they paid by the horse? Acreage? flat rate per year for every landholder–of course they wouldn’t put up with this as I am relatively certain that some lands have more horses molding away on them than others. Not only does blm need science but they also need a financial auditting firm going through their books. I’d like to find out how much of taxpayer money is missing and unaccounted for.


  8. It is my understanding they are removing 6,000 this summer for a total of 10,000 for Round Up 2010. Is this correct? This would mean they are removing more than 1/2 of all wild horses in one year. And no one is able to stop this agency because….?????? Anyone know of the preliminary plans for 2011? They must have a draft by now. Sue and Dave Cattoor need to know when to vacation next year.


  9. They make up numbers that will work for the plan they have already made. Counting horses is just too hard a job for them. After all, they all look alike and they move around, so it is easy to count the same horse twice.

    I still think we sound teach the horses to mingle with the cattle when ever they see a helicopter.


  10. There is a computer program in the works that enables physical characteristic identification of horses, like face recognition for humans. So the BLM won’t have to stretch their brains–the trouble with this is too little too late for too many horses and burros this year. Also, success of PZP in terms of in-season births, etc., is dependent on age of mares (2+ years) and administration time–best time is late fall to December. They can’t do them all at once, is the problem.


  11. Just spoke to someone at the White House (202-456-1111)… told them it’s impossible to trust Government when they’re letting the BLM torture and wipe out our wild horses. Very nice lady suggested fax 202-456-2461 and/or email
    (then hit the upper right hand corner box that says “contact us”.


  12. I told my assistant on Sat that the Prez is headed into being a one term Prez. She told me not to bad mouth her Prez.

    To date her Prez had ignored the advocates, has kept the same people in office that caused the Gulf Spill and won’t do a thing about cleaning house. Not one word about maybe he made a mistake appointing Ken Salazoo.

    It was a total privilege to visit with Cloud and his herd mates. It was a privilege to visit with Jaspar and how he let me get a wonderful pic of him. Maybe he doesn’t know what a camera is but he wasn’t much more than 5 ft from me by his choice. He approached the car and stood right in front of the car. If we had backed up then we could have run into his mom or Agate. Staying put in this case was the right thing to do–of course not touching, petting or giving any treats. I wonder if cyber treats count?????


    • If that’s her Prez then she can have him, in fact I would like nothing more to see him out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and into her house.


  13. George Knapp hosted Coast to Coast last night. On their website, he posted a link to SFTHH. Let him and his producers know that we want to hear more:

    A number of stories have caught George Knapp’s attention in the last week, including, the BLM horse round-up in Twin Peaks, CA (pictured),

    BLM Violates Own Safety Policies to Dazzle New York Times
    Lisa Lyon
    Producer, Coast to Coast AM
    Tom Danheiser
    Producer, Coast to Coast AM


  14. to Margaret We need a list of candidates who support the WH&B Act — we have the signatures of the 54 Congressmen/women who signed/sent a letter to BLM strongly urging a moratorium on round-ups until there can be a review of policy. Of course, nothing has happened–in spite of that letter. So vote . Vote for the men/women who “get” our side of the crisis. And don’t forget this summer’s stampedes and deaths in the next Presidential election. You have been ignored. OK–drop this president and get another. Move on! See Wendy’s message— call/e-mail the White House–let them know about your dissatisfaction. BLM is out of control. And tell them, that from east to west– a change is coming— as promised.

    I think of these wild horses–trapped and sad. BLM is an abomination. Shame on the USA.


    • Yes, we need to know who to support. Simone Netherlands was working on this project. If anyone else is, please get with her to avoid duplication of effort.


    • You know … it would be nice to have some one in office NOTICE this issue. There are literally thousands of us writing, calling, e-mailing, blogging, fighting it out in court. You’d think some one in the White House would notice!
      I’ve written to my senators and to my representative. The only one who has bothered to write me back in my rep. Not even a “Thanks for your comments” from my two in the Senate.
      I put my vote where I’m heard.


  15. I love this… response I got from the BLM. The phone numbers are probably real but if you believe anything else…you believe anything is true just because you read it somewhere. Seems to me you can lie and make things up on a website too…but truth ultimately wins out. Hopefully before all the horses are gone…

    Good Afternoon. I apologize for the delay in getting back to you but
    several of were working outside of our normal offices last week. First of
    all, I want to provide you with the correct number. If you are trying to
    reach the National WH&B Program, you can reach us at 866-468-7826. If you
    were trying to reach the Director’s office, his number is 202-208-3801. If
    you are calling about WH&B, they will normally direct you back to our 866#
    to ensure you get a quick response from our WH&B staff. Any of us will be
    happy to visit with you and provide you with factual information.

    BLM does not kill and torture horses. Our mission is to protect the health
    of the horses and the land so both can be sustainable for future
    generations. BLM has horse-loving staff that is educated and compassionate
    about our mission. I would encourage you to visit or to learn more
    about our program and the laws passed by Congress.

    There has been a lot of misinformation about BLM and it’s gather process.
    One topic that continues to be misrepresented is public observation. BLM
    has not prevented the public from observing gathers. I personally took
    care of scheduling the folks that wanted to attend the past Tuscarora
    gather. The only time BLM can not allow public access is when we are on
    private land and the landowner denies access to the general public or it
    creates a safety issue. In some areas, we can not access the public land
    without crossing private land. SO, it is left up to the landowner. For
    our upcoming gather in northern California, we have already posted several
    news releases explaining our upcoming public observation process. Please
    visit this link for more details:

    In the meantime, if you have additional questions, please free to contact
    us at 866-468-7826 or visit one of our websites. Thank you.

    Debbie Collins
    Bureau of Land Management
    National WH&B Team


  16. Ha, ha! That was a really good laugh, Lisa & RT. I have to laugh even more because apparently numbers and truth has been in the air recently. I myself just did a little example over on the BLM WH&B page on facebook to dispel the rantings of a BLM supporter who likes to proclaim everyone lies about what is actually truth. He recently listed a half dozen points advocates have made and then wrote “Proven a lie” as his “evidence” to support his claim!

    I’ll paste in my posted example of TRUTH in numbers below but encourage those of you on facebook to participate on that BLM page – they are NOT censoring or removing any posts by advocates no matter how hard hitting the posts are, as long as there are no personal attacks. It’s a very small glimmer but they have repeatedly stated they will let all posts remain regardless of content if the no attack rule is followed. It is a good place to prove to BLM and anyone else that we advocates ARE based in TRUTH, backed up by facts, logic and deductive reasoning such as MATH! It is also a good place to seed some real truths that people outside the advocacy community might read. You never know where you’ll find a heart or mind to open up….

    paste copy—————
    you – “”The number that they are or were supposed to maintain was 17,000 horses in total, they rasied that number to 27,000 over the years.” — WRONG –

    The REAL numbers according to BLM’s own documents: “BLM’s first census in 1974 reported 42,666 horses and 14,374 burros.” source: BLM/FS Joint Report to Congress, FY1992-95, pg 37-40 here:

    Click to access Report-to-Congress-BLM-FS-92-95.pdf

    The 1971 numbers bandied about were estimates. An estimate is not a fair or accurate basis for anything. One must work off hard data such as a census and we don’t even know if that was accurate. But the initial census is most certainly more accurate than an estimate made by people who had no clue about wild horses at that point in time (1971) having just had the responsibility for management handed to them. In order for 17,000 to be accurate, every single female in that estimate of the 17,000 in 1971 would have had to have given birth to 3 foals during the time period of 1972 – 1973 to achieve a total of 42,666 in 1974. Even the yearlings, even the aged, fully one half of the 17,000 would have had to given birth to 3 foals. And none of those foals could have died during that time nor any of the foundation population of 17,000 either.

    Even if you adjust this 1974 census of 42,666 horses down by 10% per year for 1972 and 1973, you are still at about 35,000 animals, far more than 17,000 horses that you claim was a starting point. Look at the burros – something like just 3-4,000 left. That is not even close to 14,000 from the 1974 census. Further, there was no component of the 1971 Act that required just a specific number to be a “benchmark”.

    The idea of AML was something BLM dreamed up and implemented and has proceeded to use even though there is no science behind it or at least none BLM is willing to share. The GAO confirmed the AML setting process is guesswork in their 1990 report on the BLM’s wild horse program and, in all these years, BLM has still never disclosed their methods to setting AMLs — if it were science, what is there to hide? Just this year, the OIG study revealed a Lack of Scientific Integrity Policy.

    Click to access ScientificIntegrityPolicy.pdf

    Not news but still being “discovered” and still not yet addressed by BLM.

    Bleating constantly that everyone is a liar is a coward’s way to bluff and intimidate and also the mark of someone who has no real facts behind their argument. If you want to call people liars, you’d better be prepared to back it up with verifiable facts. At the rate we are going here, the next thing you know, we’ll be hearing from you that the world is flat!


      • Burros only @ 2,000; those are some good figures posted; difficult to follow but I guess the message is:

        The BLM may be inflating the acutal number of Wild Mustangs and Burros left in HMA’s to fool people into thinking too many…
        when too few on range..!JackAss Donkeys r smarter than BLM!


      • They should not be rounding up any burros period. Estimates put them at 2800 tops for all western lands. And we know the estimates are usually on the high side.


  17. This is what many of us have been saying. We are in a recovery fight for population and range. It could be said with more sophistication but maybe BLM will understand when they read it this way. mar


  18. I don’t know how BLM can say it hasn’t tortured and killed horses–when it’s right there on tape– horses stampeding,horses down,horses dying,horses dead–when it’s in their own charts– euthanized,gather related,old horse,37,000 in holding pens,40 mares abort– all of this (and more) is torture to those animals. Where is Congress? Obama? Biden? Every one sign Madeleine Pickens petition, sign every wild horse petition on every possible site. Anyone remember that disclaimer in the old western movies? ” No horses were injured or killed in the making of this film.” Even Hollywood “got it”. BLM is out of control.


  19. For my birthday I got the third edition of Horse Owner’s Veterinary Handbook. At the beginning there is a BIG SECTION on exercise induced illnesses. Not just colic or founder but other things. It really made me aware of why Elyse wants 5 mins with the horses to document vitals.

    For instance horses that have been stressed can have salmonella in their poo. You can stress a horse by long distance hauling with no food or water. Now the folks slaughtering horses are contaminating the food chain again by slaughtering ill horses that they aren’t going to check for salmonella.

    And if you don’t think mustangs will go to slaughter you better think again. An FOB saved a mustang with the help from not only Billings BLM office but the local brand inspector too. In all fairness to the cowboy he was stressed from losing his property and didn’t know about rehoming. So hopefully he learned something and will remember it down the road so a similar situation arise.

    Like many companies there are good people and bad. I won’t dispute the latter. It’s the former that we should acknowledge because without them that horse would have been homeless. Good decent decisions were made with the focus being on the horse. And others were there to fill in those holes. That horse was saved and is safe.


  20. I noticed an error…the BLM says: “a 3 mo.filly “died…(not sure if at gather or corrals this was a tuscarora; so people skimming will think it says a 3 year old fillly instead of a 3 month old colt; Liars !


  21. So, we really don’t know how many horses and burro’s are left in the wild. Do we have any idea how many are in the holding facilities?


      • It was over 36,000 before Calico and the this year’s round up numbers. I figure we should be approaching the 45,000+ mark in equine prisons by October. About double the amount left in the wild. They adopt out roughly 10% of that amount out each year…in a good economy. They system is so beyond broken that they should be sued for malfeasance. Then they should be completely dismantled and reorganized with all new people.


    • I don’t agree with that figure either. I was ‘quoting’ the website.

      It’s pretty hard to find fact in most of what they quote.

      By bobbyabbey’s own ‘testimony’, they just gottta have 12,000 in the Federal Pen by close of biz FY2010.

      I’d like to know where he got 38,400 on the range from.


      • I’d like to know how that lying murderer is going to do this before end of FY2010….doesn’t it end 30 September and FY2011 starts 01 October? Wonder if you can roll over funds like that stimulus money to acheive the “goal”?

        Sure would explain the ferocious pace of these roundups though.


      • just a comment: I have read: in the pasture facility; the Mustangs have their Hooves trimmed every 2 years;

        which means they have to go into a chute again ! that is “awful !

        that is why I do not agree with the idea of rounding up Mares every two years to give them TPZ shots or gels;

        We do not; alteast I do not; want to see Mustangs rounded up at all


  22. Yeah—don’t believe the numbers–remember they can’t do the math!

    Yes it is a broken agency– it needs a new policy,a new public face, new accountability, a new direction— now–before every last wild horse disappears–which is their cold blooded mission.


  23. Please go to Save America’s Mustangs and click on Pony Express to have your letter hand delivered to Obama and Salzar. They have exceeded their goal of 20,000 letters largely due to the HSUS and ASPCA posting it on their websites. This is what the horses need a huge outcry from across the nation. The HSUS prints a score card on all politicians once a year.


  24. for as long as I’ve been tracking BLM numbers, they NEVER seem to change what they think is out there. Not in 30 years!

    It’s all a money game, to procure funding from D.C. and congress and keep their over priced jobs safe. The only way they get their funding is though congress. Since elections are upon us, it’s wise to ask which ones support wild horses and which ones don’t… then you know where to put the X when you go to vote. The only way to stop these SOB’s is to cut off their funding… period. Find a candidate that will do just that and the carnage will stop. Put them all in the unemployement line like the rest of the country. Vote out those that won’t help.


  25. The BLM is worse at math than I am! I didn’t think that was even POSSIBLE. Going to cross-post this around, R.T. People need to see this.


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