Oregon Wild Horses (Photo: Vince Patton/OPB)
by Grandma Gregg
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District has announced that it plans to gather approximately 1,500 wild horses associated with the Beatys Butte Herd Management Area (HMA) in Oregon, in early October. BLM will remove all but 60 stallions and 40 PZP mares. This plan is based on a 2009 document – i.e. NO public comments are accepted and they say it is not open for appeal either, so we like it or lump it as far as the BLM is concerned.
What they do not mention is that as made clear by the Wild Horse and Burro Act’s implementing regulations, the BLM “may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock . . . if necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury.” 43 C.F.R. § 4710.5(a).
BLM’s handbook requires that an Environmental Assessment (EA) be performed for each proposed gather. Therefore, BLM’s claims that one EA is to cover future capture actions is not acceptable – even to BLM. “BLM’s recently issued ‘Wild Horse and Burro Management Handbook’ and manual section 4720 requires that an environmental assessment (EA) will be performed for each proposed gather. The EA is a site-specific analysis of the potential impacts that could result with the implementation of the Proposed Action or alternatives to the Proposed Action. Preparation of an EA assists the BLM authorized officer to determine whether to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement if significant impacts could result, or a Finding of No Significant Impact if no significant impacts are expected.”
At this time, all outside authorities, including Congress, rely solely on the data the BLM provides, although its accuracy cannot be verified or substantiated. BLM is not in the cattle and sheep business and is not authorized to promote private for-profit ranchers. Until BLM goes beyond using the Wild Horses and Burros as a scapegoat for range overuse and admits it is the destruction and abuse by the private domestic livestock over-use, then the true problem of public land destruction caused by private/corporate domestic livestock will not be corrected.
Recent independent scientific research using BLM data on 5,859 wild horses from four different HMAs shows without a doubt that although a 20% foaling rate is possible, only half of those foals even live to be yearlings and therefore an average wild horse herd population will not exceed 10% – and with additional adult mortality factored, the annual population would be even less. So … as you can see in the above chart, the BLM’s Beatys Butte population increases are IMPOSSIBLE.
So, we ask ourselves why the BLM insists on their scientifically impossible herd increases on the Beatys Butte and other Herd Management Areas. Here are a few facts that show why money is the reason for their deception.
Wild horses and burros are legally DESIGNATED on the Herd Management Area (HMA) and livestock are only PERMITTED. Definition of the word “designated” is to “set aside for” or “assign” or “authorize”. Definition of “permit” is to “allow” or “let” or “tolerate”. The Wild Horse and Burro lands and resources are set aside for, and assigned and authorized for, the use of wild horses and burros whereas the livestock is only allowed and tolerated and let to use the public range resources.
While commercial livestock grazing is permitted on public lands, it is not a requirement under the agency’s multiple use mandate as outlined in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). Public land grazing clearly is a privilege, not a right, while the BLM is mandated by law to protect wild horses and burros. Yet, the BLM clearly embraces the multiple use concept for all lands designated for wild horses and burros and further, to prioritize the private/corporate domestic livestock permittees.
Per BLM’s Rangeland Administration System (RAS), forage allocations for livestock in the Beaty’s Butte HMA are currently 26,121 AUMs of active use and 14,466 of suspended use, equaling a total of 40,587 livestock AUMs. There is one grazing association that grazes in the Common Pasture of Beatys Butte Allotment #600, which is mainly the same area as the HMA. Forage allocation is 500 AUMs for deer, 22 AUMs for pronghorn, 240 AUMs for California bighorn sheep, and 3,000 AUMs for wild horses (compared to the 26,121 active AUMs for livestock).
Here are Beaty’s Butte livestock grazing allotment permittees and their USDA farm subsidy data:
Dan Cron received farm subsidy payments totaling $56,079 from 1995 through 2012
USDA subsidy information for Beaty Butte Grazing Association:
Myron Steward received payments totaling $136,226 from 1995 through 2012
Conn Fitzgerald received payments totaling $15,759 from 1995 through 2012
James H Gipson received payments totaling $246,840 from 1995 through 2012
George Shine received payments totaling $102,442 from 1995 through 2012
Samuel Farr received payments totaling $401,039 from 1995 through 2012
Edward D Stabb received payments totaling $377,871 from 1995 through 2012
Michael Gravelle received payments totaling $83,128 from 1995 through 2012
Schadler Ranch Inc received payments totaling $138,007 from 1995 through 2012
L X Ranch Inc received payments totaling $572,374 from 1995 through 2012
Cahill Ranches Inc received payments totaling $172,283 from 1995 through 2012
Kiely Brothers Ranch received payments totaling $116,858 from 1995 through 2012
Glenn E Way received payments totaling $28,183 from 1995 through 2012
Richard E Bradbury received payments totaling $28,205 from 1995 through 2012
Misc. Oregon Welfare Rancher whining:
2013 News Article: [Beatys Butte livestock rancher] “Kiely said he fears that cows may have to be pulled from the area”. “The weight gains of the livestock would decrease, especially in the late summer and early fall, as the quality and quantity of available water and forage decreases. The level of livestock use would need to be or reduced to compensate for the excess number of horses. This, in turn, would affect the financial income of these operations.” Last December, the Lake County, Oregon Board of Commissioners Meeting recommended “a joint County letter be forwarded to Secretary Jewell requesting (demanding) the BLM work with the Cooperative Group on resolving the concerns that were established.” “Mr Davies requested this letter to include two important points: 1) the immediate need for AUMs for impacted ranchers and 2) for the BLM to actively pursue any and all solutions for the massive over population of wild horses.”
So it becomes obvious that these big dollar ranchers “demanded” removal of wild horses and obviously they knew whose buttons to push because now the BLM has agreed to capture and remove a massive amount of the Beatys Butte HMA wild horses. It sure makes me wonder what those “buttons” were and just exactly who the ranchers applied this pressure to? Is there something politically fishy going on here? Absolutely.
And again it is the wild horses living on their congressionally designated land that will suffer and die.