Horse News

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.


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

17 replies »

  1. Excellent and truly worth repeating and copying. The fight is not over..I will take this to my Legislators when I meet with them either before or after the March on Sept. 22nd.


  2. Hmmm. Just a repeat of what I’ve been saying for a while. Good job girlfriend. I’m glad that it’s out and that people are paying attention finally. Yes..please do spread the word. This information is necessary of you plan to get something done.


  3. Before the WH&B Advisory Board Mtg TCF worked up a spreadsheet for the Antelope complex on the allotment use by LS (from the BLM Range Administration Site) but when we contacted the WH&B BLM specialist for the area to get “current” WH&B census he said “all the information we need is on the website.” We couldn’t find any census data except from the most recent roundup numbers which took place 3 years ago. The only actual census link on that website is dated in the 90’s


  4. Well said, Mary Beth. Truthful research is what needs to be done and spread and said over and over again. The BLM/USFS has been spreading untruths for so many years that the public and the public representatiives and the media and even some advocates believe the lies. We must speak the truth to save them. Thank you.


  5. This is certainly info that needs to be circulated. I think it will make it even more accepted, if the author can add some references for the numbers.


  6. LM-

    #1 This link might help you with your census questions but keep in mind that the BLM census records are almost always inaccurate and often biologically impossible:

    #2 The maps in this link may help you: (maps are in the bottom third of the document).

    #3 Using the map in this link, can you please tell me the approximate route of the advisory board field trip?

    #4 As for the BLM’s response to your inquiry, I have gotten the same reply from him; “all the information you want is on the website.” [Who does he think he works for???]


  7. Great information – my only question concerns how to compare apples to apples regarding AUMs. Where Mary Beth mentions 119 cattle, does she mean cows only, or 119 total bovines, as in 60 cows with their calves (less one). If the number is cows only, it is worth keeping in mind within a few months those calves may reach 500 lbs. (or more with good feed and good genetics). Modern cattle are also larger, so the grazing pressure by the end of a grazing season might well be nearly 2,000 lbs. of beef on the hoof being counted as a single AUM. A wild horse mare with growing foal might be 1,400 lbs. by the end of summer but their AUMs are often calculated at 1.25 PER ANIMAL.

    In the case of cattle we are talking about almost exclusively pregnant females with calves at their sides (figure 1 bull per 25 or so cows), and with sheep a similar situation except they commonly have twin lambs. In a wild horse population, we can figure about half are male and half female, but only a few males will be breeding, and each mare is capable of producing one foal each year after her second year.

    Wild horse foal mortality has been documented elsewhere, but my point is in any wild horse herd, only half are reproducing females with offspring at side, so how do they calculate AUM use? One horse, or one FEMALE horse with foal? For cattle, an AUM is usually one cow with calf (however large they may be) and for all practical purposes virtually the entire herd is female. There is a lot of room for manipulating AUMs unless these assumptions are made clearer.


  8. Hank Vogler was a public speaker at the recent advisory board meeting. He apparently believes he runs the Antelope herd area public lands? He is apparently complaining about the cost of fixing fences? Funny how he “forgot” to mention per the Farm Subsidies Database, Henry C Vogler received payments totaling $1,865,545 from 1995 through 2014 and H.c. & Cheryl Vogler received payments totaling $71,716 from 1995 through 2014.

    Here is a little bit of what he said per the BLM transcript: “My name is Hank Fogler [Vogler] and I run the Antelope complex south of where you guys were, alternate highway 93.” “Do you know how much I spend a year? I’ll show you how much it cost to run on public land for them we’re going to micromanage everything from Washington, D.C. with advocacy group. Then we might as well pack and go home.”

    My opinion: Yes, Mr. Vogler, please do pack up and go home and take ALL your welfare livestock with you and keep them off MY land.


  9. Off topic but just got the decision record approving the removal of all the wild horses from checkerboard lands within the Great Divide Basin, Salt Wells Creek and Adobe Town HMA’s.


  10. BLM should have been exposed years ago for their barbaric treatment of our wild horses. We pay their salaries. They should be removed from their control over the horses, and if they continue in their uncivilized atrocities BLM should be shut down.


  11. From Elko Free Daily Press
    BLM gathering 60 more thirsty horses

    Approximately 60 horses are currently using Cherry Spring based on recent monitoring of the area. The BLM plans to gather and remove them utilizing the water and bait method, consisting of a series of corral panels stocked with water and hay; no helicopters will be used.

    The contractor is Sampson Livestock of Utah. Excess wild horses removed from the range will be transported to the Palomino Valley Center for adoption.
    The emergency gather is expected to last one month. An information hotline has been established at 775-861-6700.


    • Sampson Livestock (Shayne Sampson) and Cameron Warner both have wild horse and burro trapping contracts with BLM and both previously worked for Cattoor.


    • One standard size water truck hauls about 4,000 gallons of water which is enough for these 60 wild horses for about 5 days. There is NO reason to pay a contractor thousands and thousands of dollars to capture and torture wild horses who’s fate will be unknown but likely deadly. I have seen photos of past water trapping of wild horses … the contractor fences in the water for a few days until the horses get accustomed to the trap corrals and are on the verge of dehydration and then the gate is closed and they are trapped. The photos of these wild horses show signs of severe dehydration … man-made dehydration caused by the contractor’s trapping method.


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