Less than 2 years ago, the Bureau of Land Management illegally rounded up and removed 1273 wild horses from 2.4 million acres of public and private lands in Wyoming. 71% of this land is public land. At least 100 federally protected wild horses were killed during the roundup and in the months following it as they were warehoused at BLM facilities. The BLM is proposing to do this again this fall, and are using the same precedent that they did last time. They are using their right to remove wild horses from private land to justify and enable them to remove wild horses from public lands as well. This is illegal and must not be allowed to stand.
This plan to remove wild horses from the Checkerboard lands in the Herd Management Areas of Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Greek Divide Basin is driven by the greed of the ranchers in the Rock Springs Grazing Association who seek to treat the public land as if it were their private land. Permit grazing is a privilege, not a right. Land swaps should be forced to occur in this area to consolidate private holdings and public ones separately in order to enable grazing of wild horses on public lands.
In this action the BLM is also violating the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) by lowering the numbers of wild horses allowed to live in these three Herd Management Areas (Appropriate Managegent Levels) without using a land use planning process to amend the governing Resource Management Plans (RMPs).
The BLM is using flyover data from their counts of wild horses in April 2015 to justify this removal:
Here is what the BLM told us in October, 2014 – the remaining numbers of wild horses in Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin after the Checkerboard Roundup:
Adobe Town: 519
Salt Wells Creek: 29
Great Divide Basin: 91
All of these figures are below Appropriate Management Level, or AML for each of these Herd Management Areas.
The new figures from the 2015 April flyover are:
Adobe Town: 858
Salt Wells Creek: 616
Great Divide Basin: 579
And what exactly is the explanation behind this massive discrepancy? Even with all the mares and stallions in each Herd Management Area giving birth to twins, there is no possible way that there was such a huge jump in population sufficient to trigger this roundup. Conveniently there are no photographs during the flyover “The survey lead indicated his reluctance to use photography,as it requires additional circling around groups that could cause air sickness.”
Here is how you can comment – please do this by April 22 4:30 pm Mountain Time:
Written comments should be received by April 22, 2016, and should be emailed only to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Please include “Checkerboard Scoping Statement Comments” in the subject line),
or mailed to BLM Rock Springs Field Office, Checkerboard Scoping Comments, 280 Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, WY 82901.
Here is the Scoping Document:
Please DO NOT sign an online form letter. All of these will be counted by the BLM as 1 comment. If you actually want your comments to be read, counted and make a difference you must write your own letter and send it yourself.
Some points to cover: It is illegal to use section 4 of the Wild-Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act which covers removal of wild horses from private lands to remove wild horses from public lands.
It is a violation of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act to remove wild horses from three Herd Management Areas to below AML for those areas.
There is a need for a census done by an independent, outside agency, not paid for by the Rock Springs Grazing Association, that includes photographs of the horses that are counted.
There needs to be a plan for land swaps to be made to consolidate private lands separate from public lands in the Checkerboard.
Any horses removed from the Checkerboard Area of their Herd Management Areas need to be returned to the public, non-checkerboard areas of their Herd Management Areas, not permanently removed and sent to BLM holding facilities.
Regarding conflicts between livestock grazing and wild horse use of lands in Wild Horse Management Areas:
- 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing.
(a) If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.
(b) All public lands inhabited by wild horses or burros shall be closed to grazing under permit or lease by domestic horses and burros.
(c) Closure may be temporary or permanent. After appropriate public consultation, a Notice of Closure shall be issued to affected and interested parties.
If the Rock Springs Grazing Association cannot come to an agreement on how many wild horses can live on the unfenced areas of the Checkerboard, then all of the public land within the Checkerboard and outside it in these three Herd Management Areas should be closed to livestock grazing.
The American public wants these wild horses to remain in their Herd Management Areas on public land, and to live out their lives wild and free, not suffering death and injury in roundups and stockpiled in holding facilities.