Wild horses on the Challis Herd Management Area in Idaho (photo: BLM)
The Idaho Mountian Express just posted an OpEd by Marybeth Devlin. Although her comment was edited a bit, Marybeth stated “You never know who will be receptive to the message of Truth. I am grateful to Idaho Mountain Express.”
SOURCE: Idaho Mountain Express
By MARYBETH DEVLIN
The population management level at the BLM’s Challis Herd Management Area (185 to 253 horses) is a political construct. Per the 167,848 acres—262 square miles—of this horse-herd management area, the management level’s high bound—the maximum number of horses that BLM claims the range can support—limits the population to one wild horse per 663 acres, which is more than a square mile. However, its low bound—the number down to which BLM manages the herd—restricts the stocking density to one wild horse per 907 acres, which is about one and a half square miles. Even if there were 292 wild horses present, as the BLM says, it would mean one horse per 575 acres. No reasonable person would deem that excessive.
Contrast that with the livestock density: Per the typical six-month season, the stocking density that BLM approved for livestock in the Challis wild-horse habitat is one cow and calf pair (or five sheep) per 88 acres. That equates to just over seven pairs—14 cows or calves (or 35 sheep)—per square mile.
Livestock get most of the grazing slots. Within the Challis Herd Management Area—where the mustangs are, by law, supposed to receive principal benefit of resources—livestock have been awarded most of the animal-unit months: 11,439 AUMs (84 percent) to commercial livestock and 2,220 AUMs (16 percent)—to wild horses.
The BLM claims the Challis herd increased from 241 horses in 2016 to 292 horses in 2017, a growth rate of 21 percent. Gregg, LeBlanc and Johnston (2014) found the average birth rate across wild-horse herds to be just under 20 percent. But they also found that 50 percent of foals perish before their first birthday. Thus, the birth rate is just a temporary blip in the data. To find the herd growth rate, we start with the surviving foal rate (10 percent) and then subtract a conservative estimate of adult mortality (5 percent). So, the expected, normative herd growth rate is, at most, 5 percent.
The BLM says it plans to conduct an aerial census soon. However, that’s not encouraging. Read the rest of Marybeth’s OpEd HERE.