Wild Burros

ASPCA, Return to Freedom and HSUS “cowtowed” to the livestock grazing industry by concurring with lies and joining a plan to sell out America’s wild horses & burros

Mares and foal in Onaqui Mountains in Utah (photo: Carol Walker)

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

In my humble opinion:

The ASPCA, Return to Freedom, HSUS, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and the little known American Mustang Foundation (formed by lobbyists in 2016) are signatories on a proposal titled “The Path Forward for Management of BLM’s Wild Horses & Burros” that is really a road to extinction for America’s wild horses & burros on public lands.

In this proposal, ASPCA, HSUS, Return to Freedom, Humane Society Legislative fund and American Mustang Foundation didn’t ask for viable herd numbers to be established or for the return of captured wild horses & burros to millions of acres of public lands that have been taken away from them.

These organizations completely capitulated to the signatories representing the interests of the powerful livestock grazing industry:  National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, Society for Range Management, Public Lands Council, National Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition (organizers of the secretive 2017 “Slaughter Summit” in Utah that was co-hosted by the Utah State University and the state of Utah), Eureka County Nevada Commissioner Office (headed by J.J. Goicoechea, a past President of, and a current Executive Committee Member, of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association), Beaver County Utah Commissioner Office, and the Utah Governor Office (Gov. Gary Herbert, who delivered the welcome at the 2017 “Slaughter Summit”).

These organizations representing livestock grazing interests have been rabidly pushing for the slaughter of America’s wild horses & burros for years.

How did the ASPCA, Return to Freedom, HSUS, Humane Society Legislative Fund and the American Mustang Foundation lobbyists sell out America’s wild horses & burros?

They put the names of their organizations on a document that presents false assumptions and lies about our wild horses & burros.

They agreed to the roundup of 15,000-20,000 wild horses & burros per year for 3 years, fertility control for 90% of the mares remaining on the range, AND sex ratio skewing of 70% stallions to 30% mares.

If there were any real negotiations, it seems there was not one compromise by the groups representing livestock interests.  In fact, there was not even a mention of any of the many problems caused by privately owned livestock grazing on public lands.

So, LIE #1 is the basis of this entire proposal, that defines “THE PROBLEM” as being too many wild horses & burros on public lands, the costs of roundups and holding facilities, and blaming wild horses & burros for seemingly all of the damage to rangelands.

THE REAL PROBLEM is the millions of privately owned livestock grazing on public lands.  Specifically:

  1. Privately owned livestock grazing on public lands have grown bigger and are eating more forage. Mike Hudak wrote an article in 2013 containing a statement that applies not only to USDA’s Forest Service, but also to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management:  “Research by Daniel W. Uresk (Senior Research Biologist, USDA Forest Service) finds that the weight of cattle that graze on Forest Service lands in 30 states has since 1980 increased on average by 124 pounds. One implication of this finding is that the monthly unit of forage consumption per cow-calf pair (the AUM), generally accepted as 900 pounds of forage per month is an underestimate. Based on Uresk’s findings, cow-calf pairs today across Forest Service lands in 30 states are on average consuming 52 pounds of forage more per month than in 1980. Yet the Forest Service is managing the cattle on those lands based on estimates of cattle consumption in 1980 or earlier.”                                                                                                                          
  2. AUMs on public lands need to be updated and clarified.  The BLM and the Forest Service define an AUM (animal unit month) as: “The amount of forage needed to sustain one cow, five sheep, or five goats for a month.”  Dr. John Carter in his 2016 report titled “Updating the Animal Unit Month” noted that “BLM, for example, has typically used 800 lbs/month of forage as the consumption rate for a cow/calf pair. BLM also does not clarify if this is air dry or oven dry weight….They use a value of 26 pounds of forage per day for a cow calf pair and have used other values such as 34 pounds per day for a “head month” or cow/calf pair. These inconsistencies need resolution.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  3. The BLM continually hides data regarding (and damage caused by) livestock grazing on public lands. Recently, a press release by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) titled “BLM Commercial Grazing Program Goes Undergroud” states that “The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website has demoted commercial livestock grazing from a program to a sub-program, sharing equal billing with “reindeer grazing in Alaska.” This “reflects a broad abdication of responsible range management because data about conservation outcomes and resource abuses are no longer available. For example:
    • The last time BLM published Rangeland Inventory Monitoring Evaluation (RIME) data was for 2015; that showed more than one-third of lands assessed failed to meet BLM’s own Standards for Rangeland Health reflecting minimum quality of water, vegetation and soils – a total of 40 million acres, or about the area of Washington State. The overwhelming portion (more than 70%) of range health failure was due to livestock overgrazing in allotments covering more than 30 million acres, the size of New York State. BLM has not published RIME data since 2015;
    • Last month, BLM lowered grazing fees to the lowest level allowed by law, under the rationale that “public rangelands remain healthy, productive working landscapes” – a claim for which it offers zero evidence, nor has it answered a Freedom of Information Act request for the justification; and
    • Despite two critical Government Accountability Office reports, BLM does little to detect or deter unauthorized grazing, ala Nevada’s infamous Cliven Bundy. A 2018 PEER lawsuit confirmed that the agency still does not even monitor grazing trespass from year-to-year.”                                                                                                                                                          (PEER has also written about the need for grazing reform and the problems with the BLM’s grazing data.)

In fact, in the BLM’s 2017 Public Lands Statistics (issued June, 2018), on Page 41, Table 2-1, Health of Public Grazing Lands Administered by the BLM, all data was completely omitted, with the explanation “Table 2-1 is reserved for use in a future edition of Public Land Statistics and is currently in development.” 

4)  Livestock grazing fees need to be raised to market rate.  In 2019, George Wuerthner (ecologist and President of the Board of Directors for Western Watersheds Project) wrote “The federal government just reduced its grazing fee to $1.35 an AUM for ranchers with grazing privileges on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service lands.  “According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, grazing on private lands typically runs $22.60 an AUM or more for leases on private lands.  Due to failure to keep up with inflation, the price paid to graze on public lands is estimated by one 2015 study to be more than a billion dollars annually and covers only 7% of the real costs of administrating these lands. 

Other concerns with, and lies contained within, this proposal:

This proposal offers a “solution” of “safe and humane growth suppression strategies.”  But these groups cannot promise this. The BLM has just announced another Environmental Assessment to use an outdated, barbaric sterilization procedure on wild mares. https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=184356

What cattlemen consider to be “humane” may not be what you consider to be humane.  It is a subjective term.

This proposal has included the BLM’s estimates of the population of wild horses & burros on federal lands as over 81,951.  However, Wild Horse Freedom Federation’s 2017 White Paper (p. 35) noted that the BLM’s own population estimate data has been inaccurate and unscientific for years.  The BLM’s own data has claimed some herds increased by as much as 750% to 1250% in only one year.

This proposal focuses on the cost of wild horses & burros in BLM holding corrals and pastures.  However, the real truth is that thousands of horses that were supposedly in off-range pastures were seemingly not actually in those locations. Somehow, those horses disappeared.  (See the White Paper, p. 22)

Part of the “solution” of this proposal is to “make progress toward” (maintain) the currently established national AML (Appropriate Management Level) of wild horses & burros.  This is no solution, because most of BLM’s AMLs do not allow the minimum numbers needed for a viable herd.

This proposal claims these groups share common goals for rangelands, including ecosystem health.  However, Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project, in The 10 Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics wrote “Wild horses are a rare sight, so for the overwhelming majority of lands that are in poor condition, the domestic livestock are the cause when land health and wildlife suffer. Even where wild horses do occur, the impacts of horses are vastly outweighed by the damage caused by the domestic livestock that graze on public lands, which outnumber wild horses on the range by more than 36 to 1.”

This proposal intends for tens of thousands of wild horses & burros to be placed on private lands.  This removes America’s wild horses & burros from public access, and in spite of seeming promises, there will be even less accountability.  The public will likely not be able to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the records of these private facilities.

These groups have filed few, if any, FOIA requests to obtain records regarding the operations and activities at BLM holding facilities, especially long term, off-range pastures.  So it is doubtful they have a working knowledge of the compliance and accountability issues involved or improvements that are needed.

While pushing to remove America’s wild horses & burros from public lands, this proposal claims that “failing to act now will result in continuing irreparable, long term damage to our natural resources.”  How does this make sense when considering statistics on page 77 of BLM’s 2017 Public Lands Statistics, showing that out of the total of 7,564,895 AUMs, only 38,157 AUMs are for wild horses & burros?  The other 7,526,738 AUMs are going to the millions of privately owned livestock on public lands.  Again, (and we need to stress this) it’s the millions of privately owned livestock doing damage to our public lands.

No wild horse advocacy groups with nothing to gain and who have actual experience and knowledge of managing wild horses on the range were consulted or even informed of this plan.  These groups do not speak for the vast majority of wild horse advocates.
The BLM does not own our wild horses & burros – they belong to the American public and the American public wants to see them continue to remain wild and free on our public lands, not rounded up and incarcerated in holding facilities for the rest of their lives.
This extremely expensive and ill-advised plan to roundup and remove 15,000 – 20,000 wild horses & burros in 2020 will cost $15 – $20 million and storing them in holding facilities will add $30 million for just one year to the BLM’s budget.
The plan to have the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and other pro-horse slaughter livestock groups help to “increase” adoptions, especially with BLM’s new $1,000 adoption incentive, is likely to lead to more wild horses & burros being adopted, then “titled” and becoming private property, and then ending up in the slaughter pipeline.  (Just like now, but on a larger scale.)
This plan prioritizes cattle over wild horses – 80% of the forage in wild horse herd management areas is allocated to privately owned livestock.
Do you trust that the National Cattlemen’s Association and other groups that have been advocating for horse slaughter will find “good homes” for our wild horses & burros?
This proposal does not offer a brighter future for wild horses & burros, and it is not a “new dawn” or “new territory.”  No matter how any of these groups try to spin it, this proposal is a complete sell out.
It is likely that a large percentage of these wild horses & burros will end up at slaughter.

In conclusion, Wild Horse Freedom Federation and most wild horse & burro advocacy groups OPPOSE this proposal.

If you OPPOSE this proposal, please contact your Congressional representatives and tell them you OPPOSE the proposal titled “The Path Forward for Management of BLM’s Wild Horses & Burros” by HSUS, ASPCA and others.

60 replies »

      • Our horses are being sold to slaughter and killed calling this Euthanized because of the ranchers only wanting space for their cattle.The cattle ranchers and Republicans have bought out many animal welfare organizations to convince to kill our beloved horses.Saying that this would help by euthanizing and culling.Not right.The Nixon’s bill to protect them has been manipulated by the interior who wants to kill them.ALLOW THEM TO BE FREE ALLOW THEM THEIR LAND.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. So sick about this!! I give monies albeit minimal to these organizations that look after our domestic pets as well as our wild animals that are precious, now not sure what to do😢

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cynthia, tell them why you will not ever donate to them again because they betrayed the wild horses and burros. However, be prepared for their slick, absurd reply explaining why they know best and this will help the horses.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. RT FITCH REQUESTED SHARING THIS ON BEHALF OF THE HORSES AND BURROS. However I am sharing this for American’ s Heritage and rule of law. In Kleppe v New Mexico Supreme Court noted ” In passing the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, Congress deemed the regulated animals “an integral part of the natural system of the public lands” of the United States, and found that their management was necessary “FOR ACHIEVEMENT OF AN ECOLOGICAL BALANCE ON THE PUBLIC LANDS:

    According to Congress, these animals,IF PRESERVED N THEIR NATIVE HABITATS , “contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.

    Indeed, Congress concluded, the wild free-roaming horses and burros “are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.”

    Despite their importance, the Senate Committee found that these animals “have been cruelly captured and slain and their carcasses used in the production of pet food and fertilizer. They have been used for target practice and harassed for ‘sport’ and profit. In spite of public outrage, this bloody traffic continues unabated, and it is the firm belief of the committee that this senseless slaughter must be brought to an end.”

    Sterilization is genetic genocide. DNA testing should be mandatory.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’d like to add that a requirement be made that any and all roundups, sterilizations or killings be witnessed not only by any Congressional representatives supporting this barbarism, but also by the HSUS and ASPCA. These two organizations in particular have been unconscionably silent as the carnage called “management” has played out over the years.

      Any organization that doesn’t care about foals getting their hooves run off, mares aborting while running under the chopper wings, all the broken bones, necks and skulls of horses run into catch pens, mares and foals dying in holding pens forever forgotten, and the countless thousands disappeared into horrific slaughter has zero credibility now to claim “humane” ethics or interests.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I agree that the HSUS, ASPCA, Return to Freedom, & the American Mustang Foundation have sold out our wild horses & Burros😡🐎🐴! Shameful– I’m glad that I stopped giving $💰 to them years ago! These non – profits seem to benefit themselves & their employees. Disgraceful!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congress UNANIMOUSLY passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act in 1971.

    Under the WHBA, the Secretary of the Interior is vested (assigned) with authority to PROTECT wild horses and burros on public land.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Loosely worded and vague language was added to the legislation expressly for the LIVESTOCK, RANCHING INDUSTRIES as well as FARM BUREAU, and other entities to oress forward with funding LOBBYING CONGRESS to PASS LEGISLATION to enrich the bank accounts of their constituents who, in turn, made sure to cast their votes for them….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Can we not get a committee together to spend a couple of days lobbying in DC? Or somehow interacting with key lawmakers? I personally would love to see a steering committee with Kathleen, Deb, RT, Craig, Grandma, Mary Beth or other long-term advocates that care about and will fight for the truth. Excellent article Deb. Shared on twitter. PS We could assist with fundraising to get people to DC.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you. We’ve been in touch with the offices of many members of Congress. We’ll try to work on going to
      DC in person in the future. Debbie

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kierán Suckling
    Executive director
    Center for Biological Diversity

    I just learned that a right-wing politician and a militia member with a violent past discussed mailing me death threats and the mutilated body parts of an endangered wolf.

    Washington state Rep. Matt Shea used a codename and secret texting app, but was exposed by an investigative reporter who explained:

    “Rep. Matt Shea and his allies definitely know the name Kierán Suckling. As executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, Suckling has repeatedly been at the opposite side of some of the most heated controversies in Shea’s world. It was Suckling who was battling Cliven Bundy, who’s defiance led to an armed standoff in 2014. When right-wing militants occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, it was Suckling who showed up to counterprotest. And lately, it’s been Suckling’s group that has been litigating to protect wolves in Washington state.”

    We’re calling on Shea to immediately resign or be impeached. His dangerous, self-dealing authoritarianism has no place in American democracy. He’s a textbook example of how racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, animal abuse and anti-environmentalism go hand-in-hand.

    The Center for Biological Diversity is not unaccustomed to threats and violence: The militia has shown up at our door. A truck was torched in our parking lot. Mail at my house was doused with gasoline.

    But we won’t be intimidated. We won’t back down.

    As I told the media: “We have to push on and never let this thing deter us from saving endangered species. If there’s anything worth dying over it’s stopping the mass extinction that’s going on with this planet right now.”

    We’ll strengthen our fight to save wolves and other endangered species from Shea and other right-wing politicians.

    We’ll go to court and rally people everywhere to save our public lands and wildlife refuges from the Bundys, the militia and the corporations trying to steal them away.

    Let our foes waste time in chat rooms fantasizing about shooting wolves and sending death threats; we’ll be in court, in Congress and in the streets winning the fight to save every last creature on Earth.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. When I first think of the term “farm bureau” I think about family owned farms that grow our produce … but I am wrong in thinking that. The American Farm Bureau Federation is a multi-million dollar big-Ag lobbyist group who have nothing in their minds but lining their pockets with every nickel they can get their hands on and they don’t care one bit if that means destroying our public lands and resources (and wild horses and burros) for their profit. Their idea is to SELL THEM OR EAT THEM OR KILL THEM OUT-RIGHT.
    Below are a few excerpts of their nauseating policy recommendations regarding our wild horses and burros:

    – Acknowledging that wild horses and burros are feral animals;
    – Effective and efficient fertility control including sterilizations;
    – Utilizing any humane method of removing excess wild horses and burros from the range including LETHAL control;
    – Transferring title of wild horses immediately upon adoption;
    – Horses and burros that have been held in government captivity for more than six months being sold without limitation to the highest bidder or being euthanized;
    – The development of a program to systematically transfer unadoptable mustangs and burros to thirdworld countries as humanitarian effort for the use as small-scale draft animals, transportation and other domestic uses.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Then there is what they “oppose”! Thats as bad as their “policy recommendations”!!

      “We oppose:
      Reduction or elimination of livestock grazing rights due to misuse of federal lands by wild horses or burros;
      (frankly, any “misuse” of fed. lands is done BY the livestock)

      Any new or expanded wild horse and burro territories being established on public land or imposed on private land;
      (how many HAs or HMAs have been already zeroed out)

      Using taxpayer funds for marketing campaigns;
      (as in marketing for adoption?)

      Designating horse or burro herds as treasured or other special classifications; and
      (which is what they are – treasured)

      Any federal agency providing protection of abandoned or stray horses.
      (so NO fed protection of abandoned & stray horses?)

      AFBF urges Congress to provide and require federal agencies to utilize management tools including roundups, long term and permanent fertility control, adoption and sale without limitations.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, and if anyone doubts that the farm bureau takes any actions regarding our wild horses, just review the recent Devil’s Garden capture where an unknown amount of OUR wild horses disappeared.
        And, yep… it was the farm bureau who managed the whole fiasco.
        You and I paid the Modoc County Farm Bureau for $501,396 to assist the FS in destroying and mis-managing our Devil’s Garden wild horses which come under the unanimously passed CONGRESSIONAL LAW to PROTECT them.
        In addition, you and I paid the Cattoor contractor an additional amount of $654,737.
        And guess what … Modoc County, California, received $19,350,062 for livestock subsidies. (1995-2017)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Western Horse Watchers Association

        Livestock Grazing in California

        Data from the BLM rangeland grazing page and wild horse management page in California:
        • 6.1 million acres available to livestock
        • 2.5 million acres available to horses and burros
        • 472,000 AUMs available to livestock
        • 2,200 wild horses and burros allowed

        Assuming that livestock graze six months per year, the AUM figure yields 78,600 cow/calf pairs on public lands in the state (472,000 divided by 6). The population density for these animals would be 12.9 cow/calf pairs per thousand acres (78,600 divided by 6.1 million times 1,000).
        The population density for horses and burros is 0.9 animals per thousand acres (2,200 divided by 2.5 million times 1,000).
        Land in California can support fourteen times as many cow/calf pairs as horses and burros (12.9 divided by 0.9). On HMAs subject to grazing allotments, it’s the same land!

        Given that horses graze twelve months per year, they would consume roughly 26,400 AUMs annually (2,200 times 12). If they were at 4X AML they would consume less than one fourth of the forage allocated to livestock (4 times 26,400 divided by 472,000).

        Even the casual observer should be able to look at these charts and realize that wild horse overpopulation is nothing more than a bullshit storyline intended to protect the ranching hegemony on western rangelands.

        But the overpopulation narrative will continue, and most of the so-called advocates will demand more PZP for the horses, because nobody bothers to look at the data.

        RELATED: Livestock Grazing in Nevada.

        Liked by 2 people

      • There are no grazing “rights’, only revokable privileges. That anyone can say this with a straight face doesn’t know the law or care about it.

        It’s also beyond the pale that they oppose the federal government doing what it is by law required to do, while not objecting a bit to the massive taxpayer subsidies that prop up their private livestock grazing businesses on public lands.

        They can wish all they want, but we are and hopefully will remain a nation of laws, not outlaws.


    • I think it’s important to recognize that advocates can’t just say “no” to everyone else’s plans, but need to develop and promote better plans. Given that we know they reproduce and are being kept in increasingly smaller (and often already compromised) areas, what would you suggest?

      We have to gather more support and provide legitimate and sustainable solutions ourselves. We’ve all seen how little simply reacting to what others continue to push does. At most it buys a little time for our wild ones, but their foes are relentless.

      Last year’s Unified Statement was a good start, but we need more, and soon. In other words, we can’t simply just say NO to everything being promoted, but need to put together better proposals that more (millions more) can say YES to.


      • The LAW:
        Federal Code of Regulations § 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing.

        (a) If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.

        (b) All public lands inhabited by wild horses or burros shall be closed to grazing under permit or lease by domestic horses and burros.

        (c) Closure may be temporary or permanent. After appropriate public consultation, a Notice of Closure shall be issued to affected and interested parties.


        Liked by 3 people

  7. To get to the bottom of this you have to go to the top.

    Mapping the Swamp: Federal Bonus Payments in 2016
    December 29, 2017

    See the original post at Real Clear Policy, click here.

    The U.S. Government doled out $1.5 billion in recruitment, retention, incentive, relocation, and performance bonuses last year (FY2016), but disclosed only 330,000 bonuses totaling $351 million. Performance bonuses of nearly $1.1 billion were withheld from disclosure, which is prohibited by anti-transparency language contained within the government-union contracts.
    In our OpenTheBooks.com Oversight Report – Mapping the Swamp, A Study of the Administrative State, we mapped the 2 million disclosed federal bureaucrats by work location ZIP code. Search any ZIP code across America to review the name, agency, title, salary, and bonus of the administrative state. Just click a pin and scroll down to see the results that render in the chart beneath the map.


    Liked by 1 person

    By Greg Walters

    Two senior Trump administration officials were once registered as lobbyists for an investment company controlled by a Soviet-born industrialist who made billions doing business with newly sanctioned Russian oligarchs.
    Makan Delrahim is now the assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division in the Department of Justice, after rising from his original appointment as deputy White House counsel and deputy assistant to the president.

    DAVID BERNHARDT is the No. 2 official in Trump’s Department of the Interior.
    Both men registered as lobbyists in 2011 and 2012 for Access Industries, a holding company controlled by billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, according to public filings reviewed by VICE News.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent points, but a bit off on cattle weights (info cited was from almost 40 years ago). While different breeds and breeding strategies produce different results, the goal is always to get the fastest weight gain in the shortest time, with the least costs, to improve profits.

    Here just one more current resource:

    (2010) Change through the years

    Certainly U.S. beef cattle have become bigger over the last few decades. In many areas seedstock measuring under frame score 6 are hard to find. It’s been estimated that between 1975 and 2005, the “typical” cow’s weight (in body condition score 5) increased by more than 300 lb. Rather than the 1,000 to 1,100 lb. of 30 years ago, that cow is more apt to weigh 1,300 to 1,400 lb. And, if that’s average, a lot of cows weigh more. Some weigh significantly more.

    Relatively cheap feed helped fuel the push for more growth in beef cattle. But selection emphasis for heavier weaning and yearling weights, plus increased milk production to support genetic potential for calf growth, also resulted in larger mature weights for breeding females. According to a generally accepted rule of thumb, a cow consumes about 2% of her body weight in dry matter feed, maybe a little more, during lactation. Higher nutritional requirements and greater intake of feed — which isn’t cheap anymore — mean maintenance costs increase with cow size. …

    “Most of our customers want medium-sized cows ranging from 1,200 to 1,400 lb. And I think that’s about optimum in our situation,” states Holden. “A rancher needs to produce all the pounds of beef he can get from the feed he’s got, and he has to produce it in a package that buyers want. And, as long as the cost of production is less than what he receives for the cattle, he’s going to make money.”

    Click to access 0810_CowSize.pdf

    Just to consider, a 1,400 lb. cow eating 2% of her body weight daily means 28 lbs. of dry forage daily, at a minimum. At 31.5 days/month that comes to just under 900 lbs. (882) BUT THIS CALCULATION DOESN’T INCLUDE HER CALF’S FORAGING REQUIREMENTS. A commercial calf at weaning age will weigh between 500-700 lbs. Figuring AUMs gets tricky since the calves are small but growing over their first summer, and in fall come off the range and are typically weaned then or soon after. But it is fair to estimate they will eat 40-50% of the amount of forage of an adult cow by the end of summer, so the AUM that includes only the amount for a cow is short by 350 lbs. or so over a month.

    And to be clear, these calculations are based on the minimum a cow NEEDS, not what she will actually eat if the forage is in front of her, which is quite a lot more. For those horse people reading this, you can figure 28 lbs. of hay is only about half a bale per day, but if you’ve ever fed a cow you know they will eat far more than that in a day if it is available, and more if they are nursing a calf.

    So the AUMs are substantially low when calculating for cattle at least.

    I’ve also seen varying AUM calculations for wild horses, that range from .9 to 1.25 AUMs for a single adult horse, though wild mares only rarely reach 1,000 lbs., and many stallions don’t either.

    It’s also never spelled out of an AUM includes a foal or not, though it seems often enough a foal’s needs are calculated separately, not included with the mare’s as in the cow/calf AUM.

    No one size fits all, but the AUM calculations provided by the BLM should be daylighted to the public and challenged where in error or grossly biased. They all work for us so it should be a simple matter to get accurate information from livestock grazing permits (which have to be planned and approved in advance) as well as accurate wild horse and burro population counts, with accurate forage AUMs based on average weights, not magic numbers.

    Liked by 3 people

      • Didn’t mean to step on you, Debbie! Only wanted to bring more current info to the talking points being circulated. Thanks for all you do.


      • You didn’t step on me, Icy, I love it when our readers contribute information. Thanks for sharing your great research! Deb




    • Excellent information, Icy. This adds more fuel to the fire regarding the fraudulent data supplied to the public and congress by BLM.

      Can you please supply us similar information on the domestic sheep that graze on our public lands? I believe that the sheep have also gotten much bigger and although they are counted as five sheep equaling one wild horse – weight and forage consumption – it is my understanding that although it depends on the specific breed, sheep are much larger now than in past years and yet the AUM allocation has not changed. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m far from a sheep expert (but love wearing wool). Most of what is grazing the public lands in Colorado are Rambouillet or similar. Here’s some basics on that breed. Keep in mind this is just a tool for estimation, and every situation will differ, as it should also for wild horses and burros. Also keep in mind ewes normally bear two lambs, though it isn’t clear to me if the BLM considers these lambs not at all, or as separate adults in their AUMs. I generally see permits listing only a total number of sheep allowed, with no differentiation between adults and lambs, nor between ewes and rams. By the weights listed below a ram could be twice the weight of a ewe, so theoretically needs to eat twice as much forage.

        Ram 200-300 lb
        Ewe 140-180 lb

        Mature Rambouillet rams weigh between 250 and 300 pounds (113-135 kg), ewes range from 150 to 200 pounds (68-90 kg). Mature ewes will have a fleece weigh of 8 to 18 pounds (3.6-8.1 kg) with a yield of 35 to 55 percent.

        Lots of info here on using sheep for targeted grazing, weed control etc., and emphasize multispecies grazing (though they don’t mention horses or burros, only cattle and goats, though studies from Princeton University documented higher gains in cattle when grazed with Equids):

        Producing more with less while improving the environment are primary aims of any agricultural operation.
        An effective means of achieving this is through multispecies grazing. A practice dating back to Biblical times [including donkeys, surely], multispecies grazing occurs naturally in many grasslands such as the Serengeti plain of East Africa. Multispecies grazing refers to the use of more than one type of large herbivore to graze a common resource. Multispecies grazers may be either domestic or wild animals, and the
        grazing may occur simultaneously or at different times.


        CALCULATING SHEEP AUMS IN UTAH (explains why 5 sheep = 1 cow/calf AUM, they also show an adult horse at 1.25 AUE, and a table for heavier cattle of 1.4 to 1.6 AUE — this is all based on the standard set of 1 AUM = 1,000 lb. animal)

        The animal unit month (AUM) concept is the most widely used way to determine the carrying capacity of grazing animals on rangelands. The AUM provides us with the approximate amount of forage a 1000 lb cow with calf will eat in one month. It was standardized to the 1000
        lb cow with calf when they were the most prevalent on rangeland. This AUM was established to be 800 lbs of forage on a dry weight basis (not green weight). All other animals were than converted to an “Animal Unit Equivalent” of this cow. For example, a mature sheep has an
        Animal Unit Equivalent of 0.20. This means a sheep eats about 20% of the forage a cow will eat in one month. This allows mangers to match the number of animals with the amount of available forage.



      • One more sheep forage requirement source by body weight here, they show ewes ranging from 154-198 lbs., requiring 3.1-7 lbs. of dry matter daily, depending on their reproductive status (and whether they are nursing twins or triplets):

        Nutrient Requirements and Stocking Rates

        Animal classification (breeding ewe or growing lamb), stage of production (maintenance, gestating or lactating) and bodyweight determine the quantity and quality of forage required to meet the animalsº nutrient requirements. Recommended average dry matter intake, as a percentage of body weight, for 154 lb ewes is 1.7, 2.0 and 4.0 percent for maintenance, gestation and lactation, respectively. The digestibility (quality) of a forage affects dry matter intake. In general, sheep consume 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 percent of their body weight in dry matter when grazing low, average, or high digestibility forages, respectively.



  10. The LAW:
    Federal Code of Regulations § 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing.

    (a) If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.

    (b) All public lands inhabited by wild horses or burros shall be closed to grazing under permit or lease by domestic horses and burros.

    (c) Closure may be temporary or permanent. After appropriate public consultation, a Notice of Closure shall be issued to affected and interested parties.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Recommendations on Wild Horse & Burro Management
    SOURCE: Wild Horse Freedom Federation

    Wild Horse Freedom Federation would like to thank the many organizations and individuals who joined us in signing a letter for Recommendations on Wild Horse & Burro Management that was sent to members of the Senate and House of Representatives. Please feel free to copy the letter below and send it to your Congressional representatives.

    Recommendations on Wild Horse & Burro Management

    The undersigned groups and individuals consist of a unified major segment of those advocating for the welfare of wild horses & burros and for healthy public lands. We strongly oppose any plans to “euthanize,” kill or sterilize America’s wild horses & burros. The purpose of this letter is to address some frequently discussed issues, and to offer our recommendations on the management of America’s wild horses & burros.


    Liked by 1 person

    • This is great, but there is/was another Unified Statement that went to each member of Congress.

      Perhaps it’s time now to merge these two documents and get everyone lined up together behind a single effort, and make sure this document is placed wherever the cow-tow one is circulating, to act as a counterpoint and hopefully encourage more even-handed, humane, and ACCOUNTABLE decisions.


  12. Just got an email from RTF- they are asking for comments to be sent opposing the BLM’s current push to spay wild mares in Oregon! I was under the impression they were on the same page as the BLM?


  13. More on grazing fees — this article is from 2015 but the fee rates are now back to $1.35/AUM:

    BLM and U.S. Forest Service grazing fees are $1.35 per month per animal unit (a cow and a calf) or for five sheep, just 6.7 percent of what it would cost to graze livestock on private grazing lands, the study found. That is a marked decline from when the federal fee first went into effect in 1981. At that time, it was nearly 24 percent of non-irrigated private rates.

    The study found that taxpayers have lost more than $1 billion over the past decade on the grazing program, including a $125 million loss last year. Total federal appropriations for the Forest Service and BLM grazing programs in fiscal 2014 were $143.6 million, while grazing receipts were only $18.5 million.

    Had the federal government charged fees similar to grazing rates on non-irrigated private land, the program would have made $261 million a year on average, the analysis found.

    “Public lands grazing has been a billion-dollar boondoggle over the past decade and hasn’t come close to paying for itself,” said Randi Spivak, director of public lands for the Center for Biological Diversity. “This damaging and expensive grazing program has been broken for years and needs to be fixed.”

    According to the study, there are about 800,000 livestock operators and cattle producers in the United States. Of those, fewer than 21,000—or 2.7 percent of the nation’s total livestock operators—benefit from the Forest Service and BLM grazing programs in the West.

    “The Public Rangeland Improvement Act subsidizes a small segment of the livestock industry,” said the study’s co-author and former Interior Department economist Chuck Romaniello. “There needs to be a discussion as to what the appropriate level of that subsidy should be, including if there should be a subsidy at all.”



  14. Yes, I recently spoke with a longtime BLM emplyee who admitted two things in a half hour long conversation when I called inquiring about adopting or buying a few wild horses. First of all I gave him credit for remembering me from last year when we were previously going to adopt then our years’ worth of PAID hay being stored at our grower was stolen …Anyway, this BLM guy tells me adopted horses can be titled in a specified time to adopter who can then do whatever they please with the adopted animal. If a person “buys” a horse then they can do whatever they like. I then inquired specifcally about “kill” or ” meat” buyers pulling up semis trailers and loading them up with $25.00 animals…after initial waffling he finally broke fown and admitted to the BLM doing just that…selling the wild horses for $25.00 a piece by the semi-load tp killbuyers! I have not learned or heard of this by anyone else. Also, which is common knowledge, killbuyers have been regularly frequenting kill auctions, dumping their BLM horses knowing wild horse advocates are willing to pay whstever they can elivit kind hearted donors to donate driving up the prices of the advocates trying to save the BLM horses. This is the added SKULLDUGGERY of the BLM. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cattlemen’s association wasn’t behind this as the less horses they adopt out of their $1000 New Adoption Deal to get rid of as many horses as possible while nobody can see what’s happening under the cloak of night…


    • Thank you for spelling this out so clearly. Anyone who has actually looked into the wild horse and burro management (to extinction) would realize that what you discovered is true. Very true.


  15. Talk by Michael Blake, Dances With Wolves author/filmmaker, at Stop-the-Roundups press conference preceding a national meeting of the federal Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.


    • He said it then … and it is even more true today and if anyone doubts the management to extinction of our wild ones … then do your research and then pass on what you learn to our government officials and the media and your friends and family and especially the younger generation.
      One more thing … if any of you have on your bucket list to actually see our wild ones in the wild and have not done so yet … do it soon.


  16. Excellent expose on this utterly despicable betrayal of the naturally living horses and burros who by law should be the principal presences within their legal areas on the BLM & USFS 1971 area where they lived then. We must not compromise this great law away and the wild horses and burros into oblivion! This is much to important an issue to just let slide!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you Louie C, for finding this wonderful clip of Michael Blake! It could have been today, and from 2011 to the present, the only thing that has changed is that the situation has become much, much worse. He was so accurate in predicting where the BLM was going with everything, and so right about getting the BLM out of the Wild Horse & Burros issues entirely.

    The world lost a brilliant writer and dedicated advocate when Michael passed in 2015… I wonder how many would have his courage today?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Public rangelands are “healthy and productive” so why the endless drama about removing wild horses and burros while ignoring trespass grazing?


    For Immediate Release: Mar 21, 2019
    Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

    Agency Stops Posting Performance Data and Hides Basic Programmatic Information

    Posted on Mar 21, 2019 | Tags: BLM, Grazing Reform

    Washington, DC — One of the federal government’s biggest programs acreage-wise now occupies the tiniest slice of cyberspace, according to a review by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website has demoted commercial livestock grazing from a program to a sub-program, sharing equal billing with “reindeer grazing in Alaska.”

    BLM manages commercial livestock grazing across 150 million acres in 13 Western states – a total land area nearly the size of Texas. Last year, the agency even handed out “Vision Cards” for employees to wear displaying an oil derrick on one side and cattle on the other.

    Yet, on the BLM home page, as a result of changes that likely took place sometime between March and October of 2017, grazing is no longer found in the menu for “Programs.” The user must click on the Natural Resources program to see a sub-link for “Rangelands and Grazing.” On this page are two tabs for “grazing” and “success stories.” The former contains two links, one for “Find information about livestock grazing permits, fees, and improvements” and one for “learn about reindeer grazing in Alaska.”

    PEER argues that this cyber-camouflage reflects a broad abdication of responsible range management because data about conservation outcomes and resource abuses are no longer available. For example:

    The last time BLM published Rangeland Inventory Monitoring Evaluation (RIME) data was for 2015; that showed more than one-third of lands assessed failed to meet BLM’s own Standards for Rangeland Health reflecting minimum quality of water, vegetation and soils – a total of 40 million acres, or about the area of Washington State. The overwhelming portion (more than 70%) of range health failure was due to livestock overgrazing in allotments covering more than 30 million acres, the size of New York State. BLM has not published RIME data since 2015;
    Last month, BLM lowered grazing fees to the lowest level allowed by law, under the rationale that “public rangelands remain healthy, productive working landscapes” – a claim for which it offers zero evidence, nor has it answered a Freedom of Information Act request for the justification; and
    Despite two critical Government Accountability Office reports, BLM does little to detect or deter unauthorized grazing, ala Nevada’s infamous Cliven Bundy. A 2018 PEER lawsuit confirmed that the agency still does not even monitor grazing trespass from year-to-year.

    “BLM’s range management philosophy appears to that ‘no news is good news,’” stated PEER Advocacy Director Kirsten Stade. “It seems that America’s rangelands are increasingly areas of malign neglect.”

    In contrast to the paucity of information BLM offers, PEER has fielded a Grazing Reform web-center featuring an online Grazing Data Interactive Map displaying data from BLM’s Land Health Status record system overlaid with high-resolution satellite imagery, allowing users to eyeball current land conditions.

    “PEER presents these data and analyses to fill the void left by BLM’s severe allergy to meaningful and consistent rangeland health assessments,” added Stade. “This aversion to science is not what one would expect from an agency with ‘Land Management’ in its name.”


    Visit the cyber-cubbyhole where rangeland grazing is confined

    Look at BLM data showing rampant rangeland overuse

    View BLM’s latest grazing fee reduction

    See BLM grazing trespass AWOL

    Revisit the BLM Vision Cards

    Examine the PEER grazing reform web-center

    Note historic BLM aversion to assessing rangeland health

    Liked by 1 person

    • Remember here that our BLM and USFS managed wild horses and burros are only allowed to exist on 27 million acres in ten western states — when JUST trespass overgrazing by BLM’s own accounting occurs on 30 million acres, and is responsible for 70% of their own reported range health failures in 2015.

      “In 1971 the wild horses and burros were on 55 M acres of 245 M acres of BLM land. Now they are confined to 27 M acres. (p1, pp2) Initially they were in Herd Areas (HAs) but the BLM said they were difficult to manage in those areas so they drew circles within those herd areas and called them Herd Management Areas (HMAs). The BLM claims they have 177 HMAs, but 15 of them have no horses or burros in them, 1 is double counted, and 1 is a USFS Territory. Bottom line is the BLM has 160 Herd Managed Areas, some with only horses or burros in them and others with both. (Addendum 1).”


      Liked by 1 person

  19. Also this is worth noting:

    From the proposal language (Section 1, Removals):

    “Modeling shows that for the first three years, 15,000-20,000 horses would need to be removed per year. These numbers will then drop to 5,000-10,000 per year for the remainder of the proposal term as fertility control takes effect.”

    It must be clear that while RTF opposes ovariectomies (and the BLM continues to pursue them) any male horses removed from the range are castrated almost immediately, and foals as soon as is possible. This is bona fide permanant sterilization, so doesn’t square with the language from the RTF site:

    “To be clear: Permanent sterilization is not part of the proposal, the House bill language, or the guiding report language from the appropriations committee to the agency. The proposal calls for only the use of proven, safe and humane fertility control strategies to stabilize wild horse populations on the range and slow population growth. RTF remains adamantly opposed to surgical sterilization surgeries for wild mares, which are inhumane, unproven and costly.”


    Their plan to remove ~60,000 horses means about half will be male, and immediately and permanently sterilized, and even higher numbers from areas where the herd sex ratios have been intentionally skewed to increase the numbers of stallions to mares.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. What a compassionate group of human beings – Why does human kind attempt to kill just about all animals all over the world? Lets hope that there is “a here- after and the barbarians who perform this torture are treated the same way. Why can’t we leave them alone? Be kind – not a money monger!


Care to make a comment?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.