Horse News

Researcher Marybeth Devlin corrects the misinformation in a biased OpEd written by Barry L. Perryman

Researcher Marybeth Devlin has corrected the misinformation in an OpEd in the Daily Caller, found HERE.   This inaccurate OpEd, titled “It’s Five Minutes To Midnight: The Wild Horse And Burro Tragedy,” more aptly should’ve been titled “It’s Five Minutes to Bullshit: Let’s Ignore The Livestock Grazing Tragedy on Public Lands ”  The OpEd was written by Barry L. Perryman, a professor of rangeland ecology at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Our thanks to Marybeth Devlin for setting the record straight, and for allowing us to share her comments (below) with you.

Barry L. Perryman, who did not mention livestock grazing on public lands once in his inaccurate OpEd
by Marybeth Devlin
Tragedy … or travesty?  The “overpopulation” of wild horses and burros is a pernicious lie.  The government doesn’t have a wild-horse problem — the wild horses have a government problem.  Overpopulation is a fraud.  Birth control and roundups do not fix fraud.
Arbitrary management level (AML):  The maximum number of wild horses that BLM says the Western range can sustain — 26,715 — is a political construct.  BLM uses the AML to concoct the perception of a crisis.  BLM must have a crisis.  Why?  Politically, agencies have to justify their existence.  They must show they are needed.  Nothing works better than a perceived “crisis” to secure continued and even increased funding.  It’s a way to protect jobs and paychecks.  BLM then chooses high-cost management-methods, such as multi-million-dollar contracts for helicopter-roundups — contracts against which the agency can add on its 20% administrative fee.
Sparsely populated, widely dispersed:  Wild horses are few and far between.  Per the 31,583,386 acres — 49,349 square miles — of dedicated wild-horse habitat across the Western states, the AML establishes a maximum stocking density of 1 wild horse per 1,182 acres — nearly 2 square miles.  Imagine if cattle were held to the same standard!  However, many herds are more severely restricted.  Here are examples of stocking densities that BLM deems “appropriate” in Nevada.
1 wild horse per  3,102 acres  ( 5    square miles) — Antelope Complex
1 wild horse per  3,566 acres  ( 5½ square miles) — Triple B Complex
1 wild horse per  6,606 acres  ( 10  square miles) — Eagle herd
1 wild horse per  9,591 acres  ( 15  square miles) — Silver King herd
Contrast with livestock density:  To put this in perspective, nationally, BLM allows a stocking density of 1 cow-with-calf pair (or 5 sheep) per 76 acres, which means 8 cow+calf pairs (or 40 sheep) per square mile.  Further, within dedicated wild-horse habitats — where the mustangs are, by law, supposed to receive principal benefit of resources — livestock are often awarded 90% or more of the grazing slots.  Examples from Nevada:
96%  of  AUMs  to livestock — Antelope Complex
94%  of  AUMs  to livestock — Triple B Complex
Normative annual herd-growth = at most, 5%:  Gregg, LeBlanc, and Johnston (2014) found the average birth rate across wild-horse herds to be just under 20%.  But they also found that 50% of foals perish before their first birthday.  Thus, the birth rate is just a temporary blip in the data.  Starting with the surviving-foal rate (10%), and then subtracting a conservative estimate of adult-mortality (5%), the expected normative herd-growth rate would be, at most, 5%.  At that rate, it would take 14 years for a wild-horse herd to double.  Meanwhile, the corresponding growth-rate for wild-burro herds is 2%.  At that rate, it would take 35 years for a burro-herd to double.
Fraudulent figures on the range:  Why am I and other advocates persuaded that there can’t be anywhere near as many wild horses as BLM alleges?  Because BLM’s herd-growth figures are falsified.  Repeatedly, we find BLM reporting one-year increases that are 50, 100, even 200 times the norm, far beyond what is biologically possible.  Examples:
   237%  —     47 times the norm — Great Divide Basin — WY
   260%  —     52 times the norm — Shawave Mountains — NV
   293%  —     59 times the norm — Diamond Hills South — NV
   317%  —     63 times the norm — Jackies Butte — OR
   418%  —     84 times the norm — Black Rock Range East — NV *
   522%  —   104 times the norm — Salt Wells Creek — WY
   525%  —   105 times the norm — Carracas Mesa — NM  **
1,218%  —   244 times the norm — Centennial — CA
1,257%  —   251 times the norm — Carter — CA
*   BLM claimed the Black Rock Range East’s population grew from 88 horses to 456 horses in one year, an increase of 368.  If so, that would mean each filly and mare gave birth to 17 foals.
** BLM claimed the Carracas Mesa population grew from 12 horses to 75 horses in one year, an increase of 63.  If so, that would mean each filly and mare gave birth to 21 foals.
Fraudulent figures off the range:  A report was just released following a 5-year investigation by Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  It revealed that BLM has been publishing fictitious figures regarding the number of wild horses removed from the range and now supposedly boarded in private pastures.  BLM is paying, but where are the horses?
Fraud and embezzlement are crimes:  BLM’s figures with regard to mustangs are false and misleading.  Making false and misleading representations = fraud, which violates Title 18 USC 1001 of the Federal criminal code.  Embezzlement and theft violate various sections of Title 18 USC Chapter 31.
Lagomorphs:  Jackrabbits, cottontails, and hares — the lagomorphs — are dominant herbivores on the Western Range.  A recent study in Utah found that jackrabbits were consuming 34% of the forage on local grazing-allotments.
Locusts:  In normal times, grasshoppers and crickets — locusts — consume 20-to-25% of the forage in areas where they are present.  However, in times of outbreaks, locusts can devour nearly all of it.  The 2017 USDA map shows locust-infestations in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.  The 2016 map revealed that Nevada was experiencing an outbreak.

25 replies »

    • On December 20, using DISQUS, I posted my comment to Dr. Perryman’s opinion-piece on The Daily Caller. Initially, my comment posted but, a short time later, it was gone. I tried again, this time using Facebook. As happened previously, it posted but then disappeared. That’s when I opted to email him directly. He has not yet responded.


      • I’ve noticed the same thing on my comments in the Salt Lake Tribune. They disappear after a short time. I did see that the Salt Lake Tribune had been recently purchased and was under new ownership. The new owner is apparently (according to news items) a VERY wealthy and powerful man in Utah.
        Nothing against wealth and prosperity…as long as it is gained in a fair and honest manner and NOT misused to take what rightfully belongs to others.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Did you see the letter in the NY Times today, Tuesday, written by Chris Stewart, Republican Congressman from Utah? Biased beyond belief. Not once are cattle mentioned, or mining or drilling. This needs a response from someone with more credentials than me, but it certainly needs a response. Thanks.


      • There has been a response, but The NY Times hasn’t posted it. We will post it tomorrow. Check back tomorrow.


    • I’ve sent several letters to the editor of my local paper with zero response or result, even though they were intended only to raise awareness of pending legislation, not promote one side or another. We live in dangerous times folks, this is something like I was taught was pretty near the opposite of democracy, and beneath the best attributes our constitution upholds. Right now it is wild horses and burros, who or what is next in line, and where does it end?

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Icy – good observation and look at this: “The Daily Caller is a conservative American news and opinion website based in Washington, D.C. It was founded by political pundit Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel, former adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney.”

    Liked by 1 person

      • Nothing says “we care about your opinions” like a shiny new muzzle, right?

        I agree that websites should have the prerogative to monitor public comments but some comments aren’t just about having arguments, they’re a legitimate and transparent avenue for readers to publicly correct errors, add factual information or ask questions right below the original article. Good commentators almost always offer insights the writer or website may have missed, could have been wrong on, or never even thought of.

        Since apparently the Daily Caller has been deleting constructive public comments, they only want their lies to be told and no facts or truth to be allowed out to the reading public? Nothing says “we care about your opinions” like a shiny new muzzle, right?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Because population estimates drive nearly all management decisions pertaining to wild horses and burros, accuracy is important. Reliable, science-based estimates are needed for maintaining everything from herd health to habitat carrying capacity to genetic diversity. Scientifically supportable and defensible population estimates of wild horse and burro populations are not accomplished by BLM. Given the demand for reliable information on which to base management decisions, wild horse and burro managers need standardized, tested, scientifically defensible, and credible population estimates for wild horse and burro herds. Even the NAS report stated, “KEY FINDINGS: Management of free-ranging horses and burros is NOT based on rigorous population-monitoring procedures.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Principles of Journalism

    In 1997, an organization then administered by PEJ, the Committee of Concerned Journalists, began a national conversation among citizens and news people to identify and clarify the principles that underlie journalism. After four years of research, including 20 public forums around the country, a reading of journalism history, a national survey of journalists, and more, the group released a Statement of Shared Purpose that identified nine principles. These became the basis for The Elements of Journalism, the book by PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel and CCJ Chairman and PEJ Senior Counselor Bill Kovach. Here are those principles, as outlined in the original Statement of Shared Purpose.


    Keeping news in proportion and not leaving important things out are also cornerstones of truthfulness. Journalism is a form of cartography: it creates a map for citizens to navigate society


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Politico

    GETTING U.S. BEEF TO CHINA MEANS SOLVING TRACEABILITY RIDDLE: U.S. cattle ranchers want to know: If China has agreed to a date – July 16 – by which it will begin accepting shipments of U.S. beef as the Commerce Department announced last week, does that mean Beijing is ready to accept the U.S. standards on traceability?

    China has been saying it’s ready to end its ban on U.S. beef since at least September, opening up a market that’s been closed to U.S. producers since 2003 over BSE concerns. The market is believed to be worth $2.6 billion per year. What’s new about last week’s announcement is that it’s an indication negotiators are further along and have made progress on resolving multiple technical barriers, according to Kent Bacus, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s director of international trade and market access. He hopes to see the details of the deal reached with China soon.


  5. It’s all about $$$$ & land!!!! Nothing learned from the history or our past- we can live an coexist with wildlife if we would Try!!! It’s a disgrace what’s happening to the land- what’s it going to take to change our essance- thinking!!! Stop wasteing an start perserveing life!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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