By Carol Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
Here I am posting again about the Checkerboard, just two years after the Checkerboard Roundup in the fall of 2014. 1261 wild horses were removed forever from their homes and families because a powerful association of greedy ranchers think that the public lands that they lease to run livestock on belong to them. Yet again, they want all the wild horses removed from 2 million acres in the Red Desert of Wyoming.
The BLM does whatever the ranchers say, and in fact, the Field Manager of the BLM Rock Springs Field Office says “For all intents and purposes, we consider the Checkerboard private.” But it is NOT private. In fact, over half of the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas are public land, that belongs to us, the citizens of the United States of America, not the Rock Springs Grazing Association.
Now RSGA demands that 500 more horses be removed from these three huge Herd Management Areas, and soon there will be very few horses left even in the large public areas of these three areas. Because you see, horses do not stay in one place. They move where the forage is and in the winter, they move from the public part of the Herd Management Areas to the Checkerboard where the weather is milder. In the last Checkerboard roundup, which began in September, the BLM blamed advocates who brought a lawsuit trying to stop the roundup for more horses being rounded up, because it delayed the start by a week. This time, the BLM is going to start much later, mid-October, so that even more horses will have moved into the Checkerboard.
American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, the Cloud Foundation, Carol Walker and Kimerlee Curyl brought a lawsuit during the last Checkerboard roundup, and it is currently in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The issues are the same – the BLM is treating the Checkerboard as if it is all private land and the wild horses are strays that must be removed. This is not true. If the BLM is allowed to continue to remove wild horses from private lands as an excuse to remove them from public lands, then the wild horses across the West are vulnerable to the whims of private rachers who want them ALL removed from public lands.
Because the plan was to remove as many wild horses as possible from these areas, the helicopter roundup took a very different turn in 2014 than roundups I had observed in the past. Old horses who were barely able to run, and normally would not have been pursued, were chased for miles to get them into the trap. One family of wild horses were dripping with sweat and exhausted before they were finally driven into the trap after two hours of being chased relentlessly by the helicopter. Pregnant mares and mares with small foals were chased as well for many miles. After the roundup when the horses were in the temporary holding pens, many horses died from breaking their necks on the panels, and after they were sent to short term holding many more died – over 100 died in just a few months. In Rock Springs, the mare pens were so overcrowded that newborn foals died. And these horses in holding can be sold for slaughter. Only a small percentage are adopted.
When you comment, the most powerful and effective way to do that is to use your own words and send comments directly to the BLM.
Some Points to cover:
The BLM cannot use a request to remove horses from private land as an excuse to remove wild horses from public lands – this is illegal. They cannot treat the entire Checkerboard Area as if it is all private land, nor can they treat the large tracts of public land in these Herd Management Areas as if it is private land. This will set a terrible precedent for wild horses across the West – this will leave them at the mercy of livestock ranchers who want all our wild horses removed from public lands.
This plan will bring the Great Divide Basin Herd Management Area to below the low end of the Appropriate Management Level, AML for this herd – and this is a violation of the Federal Land Policy Management Act, FLPMA. The Resource Management Plan is currently being revised for this area, but until it is revised, they must follow the existing AMLs for these three Herd Management Areas.
There was supposed to be an Appendix V in the EA which covered the impacts of livestock grazing – this was not included in the EA, despite my calls and emails. How can you possibly analyze impacts upon the Environment without taking this into account?
Read the rest of this article HERE.