BLM to Decimate Americas most Accessible Wild Horse Herd

By Arlene Gawne – President, America’s Wild Horse Advocates (AWHA) – the Spring Mountain Alliance

“…stable wild horse family groups self-limit birth rates, but roundups destroy the family groups.”

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing members of the Cold Creek Herd, Sept. 2012 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing members of the Cold Creek Herd, Sept. 2012 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has announced a gather of up to 200 wild horses in the Cold Creek area of southern Nevada – about 30 miles west of Las Vegas. They say horses are suffering from extreme drought conditions and lack of forage. Local wild horse observers agree that some wild horses – perhaps up to 70 (but not 200 that the BLM intends to remove) have stopped migrating up to summer forage higher in the mountains until mares, particularly old ones, with foals are either in poor condition or starving.

However wild horse advocates once again disagree vehemently with the BLM as to the cause. They say the lack of forage may never have happened if the BLM and USFS had not delayed for 2 years in permitting trained volunteers to apply reversible birth control to the wild horses in the Spring Mountain range. And – to be fair – if some of the public had not fed Cold Creek wild horses to get close-up photos.

In June 2013, the US Forestry service (USFS) and BLM proposed a management plan based on  roundup and removal of  so-called excess wild horses. America’s Wild Horse Advocates then proposed an alternative management plan near Cold Creek where nearly all mares would be darted painlessly with a  proven contraceptive, PZP, that has significantly reduced birth rates, for example, in buffalo on Catalina Island, in 4 different wild horse areas across the US, in deer populations and even elephants in African parks. The animals were kept in numbers that their habitat could support. More importantly, stable wild horse family groups self-limit birth rates, but roundups destroy the family groups.

This is what local Las Vegas residents have argued for since 2011, even going to Washington to present their plan. At no cost to the taxpayer, local wild horse advocates could have provided the certified darters, the contraceptive and a careful documentation of the results of the PZP plan. Within 5-7 years, the birth rate would have just replaced animals lost to natural causes like mountain lions, lightning strikes and old age (see springmountainalliance.org).

Las Vegas wild horse advocates proposed to disperse water sources across the range so horses would not concentrate near Cold Creek. Dispersed water sources would also benefit deer and elk, the other large mammals near Las Vegas that the Nevada Dept. of Wildlife (NDOW) has tried to reduce in number by increased hunting licenses. But the BLM and US Forestry Service has extended the environmental assessment until January 2016 and, you watch, they may extend it to May 2016. Three years to analyze simple alternative plans?

So why don’t the trained advocates just dart the wild horse mares and build alternative water sources on their own? Because they would violate federal laws that carry heavy fines and even federal sentences.

Why don’t the federal agencies allow reversible PZP on wild horses in our public land in the Spring Mountains? Why indeed?

13 comments on “BLM to Decimate Americas most Accessible Wild Horse Herd

  1. Hay and water both could have been dispersed . BLM will use any excuse to remove our wild horses of course. More “managing for extinction”.

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  2. Has there been some sort of back-room deal made?
    Is there some reason that the Public Lands are being cleared?
    It’s as though America’s Public Lands and resources are being used to pay off the national debt
    When you look at the big picture, it’s very clear that ALL native Wildlife are in danger and Public input is continually ignored
    WHY?

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  3. HOW WILD HORSES & BURROS HELP NORTH AMERICAN ECOSYSTEMS(excerpts)
    on 17 June 2010.
    BY CRAIG C. DOWNER, WILDLIFE ECOLOGIST, A.B., M.S., PH.D. CANDIDATURE
    http://www.thecloudfoundation.org/news/current-news/168-how-wild-horses-burros-help-north-american-ecosystems

    1. The horse family Equidae has developed many mutually beneficial relationships with the native North American plants and animals with which its members have coexisted for many millions of years.
    2. Indeed, the horse can stake the claim as one of the very most ancient and longstanding members of the North American life community, more so than either the bighorn sheep or the bison, species whose origin was in Eurasia before they occupied North America after crossing the Bering Strait land bridge (when oceans receded with the tie up of global moisture during the Ice Ages). Also members of the deer family, Cervidae, have their roots in the Old World and are relative newcomers to North America.
    3. Both horses and burros possess a caecal, or post-gastric, digestive system that does not as thoroughly decompose the vegetation they ingest when compared with ruminant grazers, such as cattle or sheep, deer or elk, which comprise the vast majority of large grazers in North America today. In contrast to the ruminant digestive system, the post-gastric system allows the seeds of many plant species to pass through the digestive tract intact and ready to germinate in a soil that equids richly fertilize by their droppings. In this way, many plant species have been and continue to be successfully dispersed over large areas by wild equids. Since wild horses and burros roam over large home ranges, which themselves shift over the generations, each plant species thus dispersed is able to occupy its ecological niche over a more extensive geographical area than it would were it not for the wild equids.
    4. Since North America is the evolutionary cradle of the horse family, which includes the burros, many such mutually beneficial (mutualistic) symbiotic relationships have evolved between the horse family in general, on the one hand, and the food plants that sustain them, on the other.
    5. It logically follows that if many native plant species are so benefited by horses and burros in North America, then all the animals that depend in some degree upon these plant species are likewise benefited, from fellow herbivores that consume the plants to predatory animals that consume the plant eaters, and on up the food chain. Equids can thus be viewed as complementary to many of the ruminant species.
    6. As concerns mutualistic relations, we again note that horse feces contain less thoroughly decomposed vegetable matter than would a ruminant’s and, for this reason, more greatly aid in building the nutrient-rich humus component of healthy soils. This leads to better water retention and nutrient levels for root absorption, and the overall well-being of the horse- or burro-inhabited ecosystem. Also the less-digested feces majorly feed the ecological food chain, benefiting a host of organisms and species from tiny microorganisms to beetles and bugs, worms, birds, rodents, lizards, and larger animals that feed upon these. Additionally, both wild horses and burros are major prey species that contribute substantially to natural predator species such as puma, wolf, and bear. They should be regarded as one with the great tapestry of these large-predator-containing ecosystems and incorporated in regions of wolf, bear (especially grizzly) and puma reintroduction.

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  4. It would be wise for people to attend some of these agency meetings.
    You will hear a great deal about “funding”….that’s the name of the game.
    Wildlife that don’t bring in “funds” are not given very much consideration
    Such is the case with our Wild Horses & Burros

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  5. We really need to get it through the BLMs head the should droop hay and feed for the Wild horses on the range tell Spring and leave them on the range and if the need water take and dig some watering wholes

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  6. The BLM is not watching out for the Wild Horses in this country. They use dangerous and politically biased way to work for the cattle industry. Cell this citizen says you work for all of us. Keep your helicopters and dirty money off our public lands and the wild horses

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