Wild Horse & Burro Advocate Hits Back at Bogus BLM Numbers and Bad Math

“In response to a recent Elko Daily Free Press article, which was biased and riddled with BLM BS and propaganda, a wild horse & burro advocate comments in an attempt to set the record straight.  Said comment is worthy of being repeated…many times over!” ~ R.T.


COMMENT:

BLM's war on America's wild horses and burros at Antelope Valley, 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

BLM’s war on America’s wild horses and burros at Antelope Valley, 2011 ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Fraudulent Growth Rates: Three herds were featured on the Advisory Board’s tour — Antelope Valley, Goshute, and Spruce Pequop. A review of BLM’s alleged growth figures for those herds showed biologically-implausible increases. From a combined total of 1,440 wild horses in 2013, BLM claimed the herds grew to 3,025 wild horses by 2016, a 110% increase. That would mean a 37% average growth rate, which is 740% times the norm. Moreover, if given a 37% growth rate, then to overcome foal mortality (50%) and adult mortality (5%), the average birth rate would have to have been 84% — which is 420% times the norm. The advisory board members unknowingly “drank the Kool Aid” — they swallowed BLM’s propaganda. Truth be told, the range they toured had been degraded by livestock, which outnumber those few wild horses by a ratio of 100 to 1.

Allotments Not Necessarily Rested: Just because allotments are listed as officially rested from livestock-grazing does not mean they actually are. BLM lets ranchers self-report whether they run cattle or not, and then bills them accordingly. So, if grazing permit-holders don’t report use, BLM doesn’t bill them, and declares the allotments to be in “voluntary non-use.” Conditions are egregious in Nevada, where permittees have defied BLM’s authority to rest allotments from grazing. Ranchers went ahead and put cattle out on the range anyway, despite the drought, and then tried to get the local BLM Field Manager fired. But instead of penalizing the scofflaws, BLM administrators pandered to them, waiving fines and allowing the illegal grazing to continue. Even when BLM tried to enforce the rules, politics blocked those efforts. For instance, a particularly-rebellious permittee openly grazed his cattle beyond the authorized season, running up nearly $30,000 in fines for repeated and ongoing willful trespass. But one of his US Senators asked BLM’s Director to reduce the charge to simple trespass — which he did — and to lower the fine — which he also did — to $6,000.

Wild horses are underpopulated: Per BLM’s own geneticist, 83% of wild-horse herds suffer from arbitrary management levels (AMLs) set below minimum-viable population. For instance, the AML for Oregon’s Beaty’s Butte herd restricts the stocking-density to 1 wild horse per 7 square miles. Imposing such a low density is absurd, but it is done for a purpose. Because by inflating the numbers to make it seem as if there are 2 wild horses per 7 square miles, then BLM can technically declare an “overpopulation” and cite the herd for being at “double the number” that the preposterous AML allows. Please note that, in contrast, BLM authorizes 119 cattle per 7 square miles. After eliminating 99% of the Beaty’s Butte herd, BLM replaced the wild horses with cattle to accommodate a rancher, who had secured a contract to supply grass-fed beef to an upscale grocery chain.

Wild burros are also underpopulated: Again, per BLM’s own geneticist, 90% of wild burro herds suffer from AMLs set below minimum-viable population. For instance, the AML for Arizona’s Black Mountain herd restricts the stocking-density to 1 burro per 4 square miles. The idea that 1 little burro would need 4 square miles of range is just silly, particularly because BLM authorizes 68 cattle per 4 square miles. But, as with the wild horses, by exaggerating the figures to make it seem as if there are 2 burros per 4 square miles, then BLM can call the herd “overpopulated” and point to their being at “twice the AML.”

Save Money, Save Lives: The Wild Horse and Burro Program, if run correctly — that is, per the minimum-feasible management-model specified by Law — would be cost-effective. BLM does not lack for resources. There are 22 million acres of legally-designated herd areas — which BLM previously took away for administrative convenience and political expediency. That land can and should be reopened as habitat. The wild horses and burros now held captive can then be released to those areas, where the cost of their upkeep will be $0.” ~ Mary Beth Delvin