A Plea to Save our Wild horses and burros, written by advocate Bonnie Kohleriter

Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation photographing members of the Cold Creek Herd, Sept. 2012 ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

by Bonnie Kohleriter

PLEASE CONSIDER TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF WILD HORSES AND BURROS ALLOWED ON

  29 M ACRES OF OUR PUBLIC LANDS IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THEIR CONTINUED VIABILITY

CONCURRENTLY PLEASE CONSIDER TO DECREASE THE NUMBER OF ALLOWABLE LIVESTOCK IN

THOSE SAME AREAS TO PRESERVE THE RANGELANDS

THESE STEPS TAKEN WILL PROVIDE A COST SAVINGS TO THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS

The BLM manages 245 M acres of our public lands and the USFS manages 191 M acres. Wild horses and burros (WHBs) are limited to 27 M acres on BLM land and 2 M acres on USFS land. Only 26,600 WHB are allowed on the BLM 27 M acres and only 2000 on the USFS 2 M acres. In addition, some 400,000 livestock are allowed on the same 27 M acres as well as uncounted wildlife.

The BLM claims it wants “healthy” horses on “healthy” rangelands. The current allowable numbers appear to be arbitrary. The BLM manages 168.25 Herd Management Areas (HMAs) with assigned allowable numbers (AMLs) for each HMA. (See attachment) If assigned numbers are maintained as proposed, 107 of the 138 horse herds and 27 of the 30 burro herds will be genetically compromised and unsustainable. The 1976 FLPMA Act calls for sustainable yields.

Recently horse and burro numbers have increased threefold within these areas.  This has put a strain on the rangelands as well as on the relationship between the public lands ranchers (permittees) and the WHB advocates. Livestock are allowed not only on the 29 M acres of BLM and USFS land, but on 229 M acres of BLM and USFS land as well.  It is important to keep in mind, the conflict here has to do with the 29 M acres and not with the 200 M acres.

The grazing fee for the public land rancher is $1.87 per cow/calf (an AUM), but the fee for the private rancher is on average $20.10. Taxpayers pay $143 M per year for permittees’ grazing but receive from them around $18 M, a loss of $125 M. The permitees maintain they feed the world but only provide 2.7% of all the US meat from the 229 M acres and ½ of 1 % from the 29 M acres.

To appease the ranchers, wildlife carnivores are destroyed yearly through brutal poisoning, aerial gunning, and trapping costing the taxpayer $60-$70 M yearly. Then to appease the ranchers, massive gathers, removals, and off-range housing of wild horses and burros is also done costing the taxpayer another $60 M yearly.

It is time to consider to increase the number of allowable wild horses and burros on the range to sustainable populations with then applying fertility control measures to maintain and stabilize the herds. It is time to consider to increase access of the WHB into their Herd Areas (HAs), areas around the HMAs that once was where they were found in 1971.  It is time to decrease the number of livestock within the 29 M acres to preserve the rangelands. The increases and decreases would more likely insure the continuation of our wild horses and burros on our public lands for viewing and for tourism, and would decrease the costs to the taxpayers for subsidized ranching, for killing the wildlife carnivore, and for holding the WHB in off range facilities.

We as Americans are at a crossroads in regard to the use of our public lands. Do we want our public lands for ranching, for mining, for hunting, for gas and oil fracking, solely for profit taking, or do we want our public lands for connecting with wildlife and with nature, for feeding our soul, or do we want a balance? To ignore the health of our wild horses and burros, to brutally slaughter them on and off the range because only an arbitrary number of 26,600 or 2000 is wanted by a few, and to not avail use of modern day contraceptives  as proposed in Zinke’s and Trump’s budget is insensitive, is reverting back to the “good ol’ days of “just shoot ‘em,” and is unconscionable. Have we as a nation forgotten compassion? Have we developed no other tools in our toolbox except to “shove ‘em, “knock ‘em down,” kill ‘em?”

SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

  • A Report on the US Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services Program, Revised January 2017, Wild Earth Guardians. In 2014 the cost for killing was $66 M of govn. funds, the latest year currently disclosed, and in 2015 1.6 M were reported killed.
  • Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands, Center for Biological Diversity, 2015, Chuck Romanello, Karyn Moskowitz, and Christine Glazer.
  • BLM National Statistics and Budget,
  • Wild Horses and Burros (WH&B)-The National Picture, 2013, Carla Bauer.

ATTACHMENT:

THE HEALTH OF THE BLM WILD HORSES AND BURRO HERDS

Gus Cothran, the retained geneticist for the BLM, states a “minimum” of 150-200 horses or burros should be retained within a herd with 50 effective breeding animals to maintain genetic variability and long term viability with a slow rate of loss. He adds, if herds are adjacent to one another and are intermixing, the 150-200 rule may not need to hold. Then, if the allowable numbers (AMLs) are below 150, 1-2 horses may be imported into a herd to help variability though the 1971 Law says the horses are to be where found.  Below are the number of herds state by state with their low allotted numbers. Each herd is given a high and low number. Herds are gathered and removed to the low number, allowed to grow to the high number, and then gathered and removed again.

AMLs above and below 150-200

SUMMARY:

The BLM currently has 168.25 wild horse and burro herds on 27 M acres of BLM land. Of the 138 horse herds only 31 of them have allowable numbers of 150 or more in them. The other 107 horse herds are genetically compromised. Then of the 30 burro herds only 3 of them have allowable numbers of 150 or more in them. The other 27 burro herds are also genetically compromised.  80% of the herds are not genetically sustainable over time as stand alone herds. The BLM claims some herds intermix, but no formal research has been done to verify these claims. Allowing only 17,000 to 26,600 horses or burros in 10 Western states in 168. 25 different locations appears to render these animals as threatened or endangered as a species. The bottom line is, in spite of the rant of the greedy and monied on our public lands to decimate the wild horses and burros on our public lands, we need to increase their allowable numbers if we are to have healthy horses (and burros) on our public lands.

9 comments on “A Plea to Save our Wild horses and burros, written by advocate Bonnie Kohleriter

  1. Question: Since when does 175 minus 80 = 635?
    Answer: When BLM does the math.

    BLM’s Estimated Pre-Gather Population 175
    BLM states Number of Animals Removed 80
    BLM’s Estimated Post Gather Population 635

    BLM’s methods are to lie until they get what they want, at which point it will be too late for what once were OUR public lands and OUR wildlife and OUR wild horses and burros.

    Above is from BLM’s completed FY 10 Gathers Black Mt Wild Burro Herd Management Area Arizona proving BLM lies and this is only ONE of many, many lies that BLM uses to promote capture/removal actions and funding and what they have fed the public and congress in order to promote the extinction of our wild horses and burros.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eloquent article – but the headline reads as though the horses need to be saved from Bonnie!

    We all know the problems but our government holds all the cards. Unless enough of our 325 million people stand up and insist we want wild horses and burros, in the wild, in our country, they are goners.

    Like

  3. Thanks for info and sharing

    On Jun 2, 2017 4:56 PM, “Straight from the Horse’s Heart” wrote:

    > debbiecoffey posted: ” by Bonnie Kohleriter PLEASE CONSIDER TO INCREASE > THE NUMBER OF WILD HORSES AND BURROS ALLOWED ON 29 M ACRES OF OUR PUBLIC > LANDS IN ORDER TO PRESERVE THEIR CONTINUED VIABILITY CONCURRENTLY PLEASE > CONSIDER TO DECREASE THE NUMBER OF ALLOWABLE” >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some excellent assessments here and this is giving the greater picture and exposing the unjust relative proportions of wild equids allowed versus allowed domestic livestock on the public lands. It is imperative that we get people in control of this program who really appreciate and will defend the wild equids and their habitats, i.e. wild horses and burros in the wild. I do not agree, however, with the fertility control that the author proposes, as this is a major step toward their domestication and has many harmful effects both on individuals and on the social units of the wild equids, whether these be bands with a lead stallion and a lead mare or a regional interbreeding herd. As you may realize I am proposing Reserve Design as the way forward, because this preserves and/or restores the true integrity of the wild horses and wild burros and through Reserve Design we can realize for these wonderful companions on planet Earth (1) long-term genetically viable (which in my professional estimate is MUCH greater than the 150 number that is much too low), (2) ecologically well adapted and harmoniously integrated (an extremely important point that is all but ignored by the BLM and USFS wild horse and wild burro program), and (3) naturally self-stabilizing populations once these wonderful animals establish mature social units, including both bands and herds, and once they fill their ecological niche within a variously contained but complete and long-term viable habitat. THIS IS WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN AND WOULD BE THE TRUE FULFILLMENT OF THE TRUE AND CORE INTENT OF THE WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS ACT OF 1971, NOT FURTHER COMPROMISING AWAY OF THE LIVES, NUMBERS, NATURES, CHARACTERS, ABILITIES, AND VERY HABITATS OF THESE WONDERFUL ANIMALS WHO HAVE DONE SO MUCH FOR US HUMANS. NOW ISN’T IT HIGH TIME THAT WE DO SOMETHING TRULY GOOD FOR THEM?! LIKE GIVING THEM AN ADEQUATE PLACE IN ALL WAYS WHEREIN TO REALIZE THEIR OWN TRUE SELVES AND NATURES, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY AND COLLECTIVELY?!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes,!!! The AML is addressed well in this article, Number one issue. I agree with cc, leaving the fertility control out of the picture for it gives them something to zero in on and use to placate advocates. And in the hands of those who do not care will overuse and abuse it. There is no need for it in the conversation with our low numbers, even if 30% or more of the horses in holding are repatriated.
    Does anyone have a plan of the organization and procedure for repatriation? Has each HMA been reevaluated to how many horses each could hold safely or what has to be done to make them so? I imagine there is a lot of thought that would need to go into it – from the heart thought.
    A textbook on the best ways to repatriate horses, evaluating HMA’s, in the field population counts, building necessary structures and water sources, social reintroduction, human interference, what the public can do now. etc.
    They do not want to think about it…..and their hands have to be tied — I fear they will take rash action just because they think they have to do something.

    Like

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