Water is life, especially for nursing mothers
by Carol J. Walker, Dir. of Field Documentation for Wild Horse Freedom Federation
The BLM has produced a Determination of NEPA Adequacy instead of an Environmental Assessment for the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area and this is a plan that will be in effect for 10 years with no further opportunity for the public to comment. The BLM plans to remove approximately 584 of the 825 wild horses estimated that live in Sand Wash Basin, bringing the number of wild horses remaining to 163, the low end of the Appropriate Management Level. This includes all the 70 horses that live outside the HMA and also includes foals from this year, which will most likely bring the total of wild horses to be removed to 662.
Here is the current document dated 6/4/2018: http://www.wildhoofbeats.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/DOI-BLM-CO-N010-2018-0025-DNA.pdf
Wild Horse Freedom Federation will be doing a Radio Show on Wild Horse and Burro Radio tomorrow night, Tuesday July 3 with me, Carol Walker, as the guest, talking about the comments needed for Sand Wash Basin as well as the phone calls needed for the water crisis:
In this proposal, they are planning to use bait/water trapping rather than helicopter to capture the horses. Bait trapping can be more humane for the horses if done properly by people who know how to do it and are being careful to prevent injuries. Instead of being chased for miles with a helicopter the hoses are “baited” into a trap with goodies, the door to the trap is closed, and the horses that are to be removed are separated out and loaded onto trailers and taken off the range to holding facilities. The horses that are selected to remain are released. This is more time consuming than a several day helicopter roundup but also should be much less expensive as the trap can be manned by one person at a time and there is no need for helicopter fuel or pilots. There would be several locations for the traps to capture horses from different areas.
The BLM says they would do this over multiple years rather than all at once. In August 2016 the BLM issued an Environmental Assessment where they had planned to take 50 wild horses per year for 10 years and give 80% of the mares PZP-22. My main objection to this plan is that it opened the door to future helicopter roundups and no opportunity for future comments from the public over the next 10 years. The goal was to remove wild horses down to low AML which is 163 wild horses. Here is the 2016 EA: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/projectSummary.do?methodName=renderDefaultProjectSummary&projectId=59798
They did one removal in fall 2016. They did not remove any wild horses in 2017 and now have released this revised plan which is different than the 2016 EA WITHOUT DOING A REVISED EA. I am pretty sure that this is a violation of NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, which promotes the enhancement of the environment and has specific requirements that must be met before taking an action such as removing wild horses from a Herd Management Area. This is a break in procedure for the BLM and I am very concerned that they are going to be taking any opportunity to circumvent and skirt regulations and prevent any transparency of public oversight of their actions. This needs to be challenged in court in my opinion.
The BLM says this would be conducted in multiple years as funding and space in holding facilities becomes available. The horses will likely be transported to the BLM holding facility at Canon City, Colorado.
If the wild horses in Sand Wash Basin are brought down to low Appropriate Management Level of 163 they will be below the number needed for genetic viability, which is 150-200 breeding aged adults, as per the leading geneticist for wild horses, Dr. Gus Cothren. These horses can also be removed using a helicopter, if you refer back to the original EA from 2016: