Utah BLM proposes sterilizing stallions on the Frisco HMA (managed by Cedar City Field Office) and the Conger HMA (managed by Fillmore Field Office), supposedly so they can find out the “impacts of sterilizing a portion of male horses in the population and how treatment impacts their behavior and ecology.” According to a 2013 BLM Comparison of Population Growth Suppression Methods document, the BLM knows that there are unknown behavioral effects, but needs to do these “field studies” so they won’t get sued in their pursuit of non-reproducing or minimally reproducing herds. According to BLM 2015 statistics, the Frisco HMA has an AML of only 12-60, and BLM estimates there are 146 horses (last population survey April 2012). The Conger HMA has an AML of 40-80, and BLM estimates there are 156 horses (last population survey March 2011). These herds are barely viable. And, just a thought to keep in mind, 44 years after being mandated to protect wild horses and burros, the BLM is still trying to figure out how to count them correctly. – Debbie
The BLM will work collaboratively with the United States Geological Survey to conduct several studies on wild horses and burros.
BLM Utah Proposes Wild Horse and Burro Research Projects
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Utah’s Wild Horse and Burro Program will be working collaboratively with scientists at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Fort Collins Science Center to conduct several wild horse and burro research projects.
The research is being done partly in response to the 2013 National Academies of Science (NAS) report that recommended science-based management of free-roaming equids within the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program.
The NAS report recommended acquiring population ecology information on wild burros to better understand their demographic parameters and improve their management, since there is remarkably little published literature on wild burros. Two research proposals include the Sinbad wild burro herd management area (HMA) managed by the Price Field Office. The first study, which has been approved, would test population survey techniques for burros and identify and develop new techniques that can be applied across wild burro ranges of western rangelands. The second proposed study would study the demography of free-roaming burros to provide data for population modeling, to improve management of wild burros, and to contribute to a better understanding of the ecology of wild burros.
The NAS report also recommended research be done on wild horse demography and ecology, and highlighted the utility of statistical models for improved management. Studies to support this approach are being proposed for the Frisco HMA (managed by Cedar City Field Office) and the Conger HMA (managed by Fillmore Field Office). Specific questions approved in the research for the Conger HMA include quantifying the impacts of sterilizing a portion of male horses in the population and how treatment impacts their behavior and ecology.
Research on both wild horse and wild burro HMAs could include looking at the fertility, fecundity (reproductive rate), recruitment rate, age-specific survival and mortality, habitat selection, movements, habitat range; and the animals’ behavior and ecology at the scale of both the individual and population levels. The BLM expects these studies to support and contribute to the management of wild horses and burros.
The Price, Cedar City, and Fillmore Field Offices have begun initiating the National Environmental Policy Act analysis of the research proposals. The public review and scoping period for these proposals are anticipated to begin early in the fall of 2015.
For more information on upcoming USGS wild horse and burro studies, visit www.fort.usgs.gov/wildhorsepopulations.