Guest OpEd by Grandma Gregg
“…only about half of the foals survive to become yearling age…”
I am sure you are aware that the BLM wild horse and burro populations are almost always wrong and that they usually use 20% annual increase as their standard. Independent research has shown that the “average” annual foaling rate is about 20% (SEE LINK https://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/04/28/report-wild-horse-population-growth/).
The issue that the BLM refuses to consider is that only about half of the foals survive to become yearling age (less than reproduction age). This gives us an annual herd population increase of only about 10%. Additionally, adult mortality must be factored which reduces the increase even further … to even less than 10% actual herd increase per year. I am aware that this is only average and that many factors (disease, climate extremes, changes in habitat, etc.) vary from year to year, but facts and simple math certainly contradict the BLM’s average herd increases of 20%.
With that in mind, take a look at the BLM’s population numbers and increases for our Oregon Three Fingers HA (below chart). Note that one year they even used a 67% increase – and this herd has been PZP’d in the past. Using this knowledge, it is my estimate that there are only about 100-140 or so wild horses on the Three Fingers, which is even less than the 150 planned capture/removal proposal.
If you have ever tried to balance your checkbook, you are aware that if you continue to take more money (or horses) OUT than what is being replaced … it is not long until you have a negative balance. That is what the BLM is doing – managing for extinction.
Three Fingers Oregon HMA per Herd Stats
From: “Moore, Larry” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: August 29, 2016 9:24:22 AM PDT
Vale District BLM Plans Emergency Wild Horse Gather
Vale, Ore. – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Vale District is announcing a plan to conduct an emergency gather of wild horses in the Three Fingers Herd Management Area (HMA).
The Cherry Road Fire, that started August 21, 2016, burned approximately 90 percent of the Wildhorse Basin pasture, where more than half of the estimated 279 horse herd resides. The remaining horses reside in the Riverside pasture. Currently, the remaining 10 percent of the Wildhorse Basin pasture has limited water resources or forage.
For this reason, the BLM’s Vale District is planning to gather approximately 150 wild horses and transport them to the Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines, Oregon. It is estimated that between 80 and 120 wild horses will remain in the Riverside Pasture in the southern end of the HMA.
The post-fire recovery period for the HMA is generally two active growing seasons for upland vegetation. The removed horses which exceed the low end of the Appropriate Management Level (AML) will be prepared to be included in the adoption program. The Appropriate Management Level for the area is 75 to 150 wild horses.
The start date of the gather has yet to be determined, but is expected to take place as early as August 29, 2016. The length of the gather is currently unknown.
Statistics associated with the gather can be found at: http://go.usa.gov/xW2Zk.
The Three Fingers HMA is approximately 25 miles south of Vale, OR. The HMA is bordered on the west by the Owyhee Reservoir, on the south by the Leslie Gulch Road, and on the north by the Owyhee Dam. The Cherry Road Fire has so far burned more than 35,000 acres to the west of the Owyhee Reservoir.
The public can visit and view the horses once they arrive at the Wild Horse Corral Facility any time during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Additional information about the BLM’s wild horse and burro program is available at:
Public Affairs Officer
Bureau of Land Management, Vale District
U.S. Department of Interior