Horse News

2 Million Bucks: BLM is Mismanaging Wild Horses and Burros – ‘DOINK’

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“We have been saying that for years…”

NAS Report Report in BriefThe long anticipated National Academy of Science‘s National Research Council’s multimillion dollar, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) commissioned, pre-publication report was released, yesterday, and instead of being the death sentence for protected wild horses and burros, as we all expected, it turned out to have a grain of insight while missing the point in most major areas of concern.

Although the panel of experts noted that the BLM’s helicopter roundup assault on the wild horses and burros is not working, DOINK, they totally missed the destruction to public lands by private, BLM favored welfare cattle who out number wild horse hundreds to one.  Ginger Kathrens of the Cloud Foundation summed it up in a recent interview with USA Today;

 “How can you worry about a herd of 100 horses when you might have 10,000 cows grazing in the same region?” she asked.

There are an estimated 8.9 million private cattle and calves on public lands with only about 18,000 – 20,000 wild horses and burros still remaining with OVER 50,000 captured equines in corrals and on BLM funded private holding areas.

This gross deletion of a major contributor to range degradation casts a shadow of collusion across the additional assertions of this 2 year BLM funded report.

Early on it was suggested, publicly, by the BLM that the inclusion of the impact of private cattle grazing was outside the scope of this report and it could/would have a serious effect upon stakeholders (private cattleman).

Although this author has yet to finish reading the entire 400+ page report my initial take-aways are as follow:


  • Report notes that the continued inhumane removal of wild horses from their rightful range does nothing to manage their numbers in the wild. (In fact, it actually increases them)
  • The issue of the BLM intentionally managing our wild equine into extinction is NOW in the public eye and all over the main-stream media, which is HUGE!
  • The good ole’ boy BLM is going to have to do something, make some sort of move, to stem public disapproval. (however impotent and idiotic that might be)

Delta (bad)

  • Missed the entire issue of 8.9 million private, welfare cattle (there are sheep too) ripping our public lands to shreds and destroying what little water is left.
  • Missed the fact that there are multi-year PZP products out on the market that would make on range management much more cost effective.
  • The BLM turns it’s back on the law, now, why would we ever believe that the out of control agency would listen to a bunch of bookworms and heed their advice.

Don’t get me wrong, this report is better than I expected it to be but it is still not real science when you ignore the obvious threat and danger to our public lands, welfare grazing, and look only at one, fractionally very small component of a very large picture.

The good ole boys STILL have a strangle hold on the horses and burros and we aren’t leaving until they let go.

The NAS Report in Brief  can be download (HERE)
The “Using Science to Improve the BLM WH&B program” can be downloaded (HERE)

22 replies »

  1. It was much better than I had ever expected. I particularly liked where they wrote about the BLM Handbook being pretty worthless as a guide to the field office managers. They also addressed the fact that the process for determining AML’s needs to be drastically improved. Too many decisions are made using very old data and this needs to change. The BLM also needs to become more flexible when determining AML’s as conditions change on the public lands. Their census numbers are a mystery and clear definitions need to be established i.e. what exactly is a ” thriving natural ecological balance”?

    It’s my opinion the biggest thorn in the side of the BLM is the constant admonishment to listen to the public. They HATE that! Tom Gorey has already said that the public is using this as a propaganda tool to stop the roundups which they are required to do by law. What he didn’t say was that if they raised the AML’s on HMA’s then the stampede wouldn’t necessarily be needed. Think about it. A recent EA showed 1500 horses on nearly 2 million acres and they are going to gather. What a waste of taxpayer money and what a waste of an animal’s life.

    I also see where they write about the use on contraceptives as a tool then show the advantages and the disadvantages of all the drugs considered…none of which are good. There is no place for drugs in schools or in wild animals period.

    Well you all can read so I’ll finish with this. A report as scathing as this one needs to be taken advantage of. We need to use this document to gain a foothold in Congress to repeal the Burn’s Amendment, and exempt the HMA’s from the multiple use policy. I just wrote the Secretary to ask just what constitutes ‘multiple’…to me that means more than one. So if you have wild horses and pronghorn antelope grazing the same land isn’t that ‘multiple use’? Why must we pile on thousands of cows, oil and gas drilling etc?

    Just my opinion…can’t wait to read others 😉


    • Land use laws passed by Congress are not being followed. President Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore managed to undermine Congressionally passed laws when they signed the Convention of Biological Diversity in 1993. Vice-President Gore was furious that the Senate would not vote to ratify this treaty, but he was not to be denied. President Clinton has shut down millions and millions of acres around Yellowstone and the Grand Staircase in Utah. There is also a lot of public land in California that is being emptied of wild horses and burros to comply with elements in the CBD. He and President Clinton implemented provisions of the CBD into federal agency law. It appears that the Democrats in the Senate seem to know that they are supposed to oppose wild horse protection legislation while the House continues to pass legislation to protect wild horses. Clinton, Gore, Reid, Salazar, and Obama all serve the same master’s and they give a didly squat about anything in this country except our gas, oil, coal, uranium, precious metals, rare Earth elements, and keeping enough Americans alive to work in their energy producing businesses.


      • you left out Bush and fact, it is the BLM..alone who developed the policy now in place of distorting “multiple use” to their own purposes..this is not so much a political issue as it is a governmental agency direction…that defies who ever becomes president..It would take a strong president willing to wield power with an interest in the wild horses(who do not vote) to make a difference…BLM has in fact IGNORED directives from the recent the tail on the right end of the donkey..this is owned by the BLM alone..
        I agree with Steve completely, we badly needed this report….thank you Santa and the NAS


      • Steve is right and Sandra is right. Hoofhugs hates Democrats and it is always the same: Pin the TALE on the Donkey.. Once again, this must be a bipartisan approach to getting something done For the Wild Horses and Burros.. We know where the votes of Co-sponsor support for the Ban on Horse Slaughter are in the House. That would be a great place to start. And work with Rep. Grijalva and his committee, by putting this report in front of them, and not letting it be buried by the BLM bureaucracy .


  2. Good comment, Steve. I agree multiple sounds to me like wild horses & antelope! Not necessary to add cows or drilling OR pipelines to the mix.I
    I particularly liked the part where it states not only do the roundups not help manage the population numbers – but it INCREASES them! Which we have all heard for years from actually informed advocates! I know this report isn’t perfect – by far, but it sure does exceed my expectations. Surprise, Surprise! They actually did come out mainly on the side of the horses & burros. Now if only the new Secretary will read & change things……


  3. It’s funny, to me anyway, that they need to commission a panel of “experts” to conclude what most of us here and many other Americans with any sense, ethics, and morals at all, can plainly see. Our real and ever pressing problem is always with the “good ‘ole boys club” of the contemptuous and corrupt; of whom combine their positions of power against the logical and obvious. Their ulterior motives and greed will be the ruination of this world and humanity. The key to putting an end to their reign of corruption is to strongly and purposely push back with all the courage and conviction we can acquire and deliver and to be more educated and pro-active during elections and when purchasing our products. If money is their motivation, then that is both the problem and the answer.


  4. The public unifying with one voice against the BLM started in April when we held a national rally. Since then, social media pages are lit up with hundreds new people getting involved every day. The BLM can see the tide of public opinion turning against them with the public becoming educated and passionatly against all of their policies. This is just the beginning and won’t end until the assault of our beloved horses has stopped and those responsible are held accountable.


  5. On page 12 there is mention of modeling program WinEquus. Apparently this program has been using default dataset parameters FOR ALL HMA’s.

    I understand RT why you feel they missed the whole point regarding. BLM said awhile back that NAS was not to consider this factor. That’s when we all started feeling it was going to be a snow job. So far reading this report NAS isn’t pulling any punches. It’s pretty scathing to BLM. I don’t think they were prepared for the trashing this report is going to cause them.


    • I think the NAS did a pretty good job explaining that WinEquus was a good program capable of doing exactly what was advertised. The problem was it required data to be programmed for it to use to make determinations. Of course the programmer is a BLM employee so that data could easily be altered to get the result the agency required.


  6. The report is a step in the right direction, but not far enough and the direction needs to be corrected:

    “Overpopulation is a MYTH deployed to ruin native wild horses.”

    Statement from Anne Novak, Executive Director of Protect Mustangs

    We are grateful that the National Academy of Science (NAS) recommends stopping cruel roundups but we challenge their decision to control alleged overpopulation like a domestic herd with humans deciding who survives and breeds.

    NAS deploys the BLM overpopulation myth to push EPA restricted use PESTICIDES (Immunoconraceptive PZP & GonaCon®) as well as sterilization on Native #WildHorses.

    This is part of the plan named after Ken Salazar, the previous Secretary of Interior, whose mission was to wipe wild horses off public land, stockpile them at taxpayer expense and send many into the alleged slaughter pipeline.

    The Salazar Plan began in 2009 -10, despite public outrage. Its focus was to remove wild horses and burros to facilitate the energy and water grab on public land.

    The renewables market abroad is hot. Fracking and exporting natural gas through pipelines across the West is causing environmental damage. Wild horses would require mitigation so they lobbied for the BLM to get rid of them.

    The Salazar Plan feigns an overpopulation crisis to remove most native wild horses from their legally designated ranges and stockpile them in government holding. They are torn from their homes, families and at risk of being sold to probable slaughter.

    Overpopulation is a MYTH deployed to ruin native wild horses. There are maybe 18,000 wild horses left on more than 31.6 million acres of public land designated for their use. They are reproducing at a higher rate because nature knows they face extinction from the gluttony of roundups since 2009. Sterilizing them is wrong. Put the 50,000 in holding back on the range so they can fill their niche in the ecosystem.

    We are witnessing the final attack on the indigenous horse and it must be stopped.

    Man-made fertility control will domesticate wild horses and wipe them out. Survival of the fittest is Mother Nature’s way to select who breeds to protect the herd.

    Domestic horses are manipulated by man. Their weaknesses are evident as a result.

    We ask the NAS, the BLM and certain members of the advocate community, “Do you really think man can choose who breeds better than nature? Do you realize that by supporting chemical fertility control many will be sterilized and loose their place in the herd?” What happens when they all die off? Will you then realize they were never overpopulated?”


  7. They have done studies on how to maintain healthy range lands, and like everything else, they ignore it. The ranchers are to be removed after the wild horses. That is why it doesn’t matter. They already know; they are not following scientific land management policies because the master plan doesn’t call for it. The master plan was made without fully appreciatiing the power of the Internet and grossly underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

    The stake holders are not the ranchers. The stake holders are the idiot scientists still in power of controlling controlling funding, types of research, subjects of research, whether research can be published, how it is published, or even if it can be published. The real, authentic science is hidden away in defunct agency archives. This is a cover-up throughout a number of government agencies—the creation of science not based on truth, but on the goals of removing human eyes from public lands.

    The main stake holder is a venerated American scientist who falsified the native/non-native horse issue as early as the 1980’s. Horses harm ecosystems by “trampling on native plants” and “disturbing the soil”. Can you imagine such foolishness? Yet, in the chapel of humans know better than God what animals and plants should live in a certain place, humans whose understanding of science could be found in a mustard seed have such hubris they believe that they should be able to rewrite natural law and federal law according to their vision of what the world should be.


  8. On page 23 NAS specifically refers to how the study of cattle grazing was outside the scope of this study. this is BLM’s fault not NAS. They were directed by Dean Bolstad on what they could and couldn’t study. I remember Dean standing up and talking about the length and breathe of this study.

    It still comes back to Director Jewell to stop this madness. If she won’t do it then Congress needs to step in. I say shut the whole freaking agency down. Fire everyone. Then start over again with folks that care about the horses. Not just in word but by deed.


  9. In every EA issued and approved, the BLM has lowered the AML for WHs, thus creating the illusion of over only exists on paper..time an time again, BLM has followed the advice and input from a few of the stakeholders on each HMA…the ranchers… who have their cattle on that HMA..I don’t call them stakeholders..they are “partners in crime” and anyone who disputes that has no direct involvement and experience in public lands ranching and what goes on on those allotments..I never saw a BLM employee in the year I spent on cattle allotments in one checked to see how many cattle we actually put out there..thats why they don’t want them includd in the study, because they have NO verifiable data to say the ranchers only put out the cows alloted


    • Unfortunately, few, if any of our well-researched, fact-based arguments are likely to prevail in an arena where science, rationality and fairness have been ignored from day one, or since the BLM was formed by merging the federal bureau for mining and that for livestock. Why then are we surprised when public lands are managed on behalf of ranchers and mining and energy interests, which generate revenue for the B LM, -even if only pennies on the dollar ? The truth is that BLM has never cared much about managing rangelands or the horses or wildlife on them other than to benefit their primary clients, cattlemen and big mineral and hydrocarbon extractors.

      As native american author and poet Sherman Alexie reminds us ” Tribalism is alive and well in America, in sports, in product branding, in politics. We’re all members of tribes competing with other tribes”. BLM has always been run by members of the ranching and mining tribes for the primary benefit of their tribes. All the rest is merely PR window-dressing. Until members of the tribes with horses, wolves and other wildlife are at least given a seat at the table, little if anything will fundamentally change BLM’s tribal mandate to marginalize horses, predators and other wildlife in order to serve the best interests of their tribes.


  10. I am not pleased with the NAS report on the Wild Horse and Burro program here in US issued June 5th, 2013, since they do not deal with the unfairness issue, the very low population levels and resource allocations by BLM and USFS for the wild horses and burros, the zeroings out of most of their original legal areas. It did not address their positive restoring effect as returned natives in North America. They just opt for the quick-fix-drug approach to the so called problem rather than calling the monopolizers of the public lands to account and calling for their cutback. I am very disappointed! I mean to present my petition now. Have you signed it yet?


    • This is Grandma Gregg’s daughter, Jessica, from a Protect Mustangs press release today;

      “The NAS findings clearly state that the BLM has failed to provide accurate estimates of the nation’s population of wild horses and burros,” states Jesica Johnston, environmental scientist and biologist. “Therefore, the NAS cannot conclude that a state of over-population exists and or provide a recommendation for artificial management considerations such as ‘rigorous fertility controls’ to control populations for which the complex population dynamics are currently unknown.”


      • A proper wildlife moratorium is done over 5 to 10 years and it includes independent study and the development of management based upon the studies results. This has never been done. Nor was the 1971 Act properly set up so this might have been done. BLM is not a wildlife manager. And wild horses and burros need their own science to be managed properly for their safe preservation.

        Now is the time for a Moratorium. Not more BLM BS. We need independent study and for the science to be the basis for management into the future. Turning the Wild Horse and Burro Program Around is not all it needs. The program needs to be rebuilt and BLM kept out.

        When National Fish and Wildlife wanted to drop the Gray Wolf Recovery Program this week, Jewell said they could not. This is good for the wolves. I do not know if she will be as appeasing with the wild horses and burros and even if she is please remember that the wild horses and burros need LAW that is enforced and which will protect them and their lands from even BLM. BLM is NOT above the law altho they have behaved this way and said it. Jewell will not always be in office. We need lasting protections and a guarantee that what has happened will not ever happen again.


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