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BLM withholds vital data from the public: WHFF files FOIA request to obtain the data

by Debbie Coffey, V.P., Wild Horse Freedom Federation

People have been contacting the BLM and asking for the 2019 Herd Area and Herd Management Area Statistics.  This is BLM’s data about the population of America’s wild horses & burros on each of their federally protected areas in each state.  The BLM has been promising that this data would be made public “soon” or “in a couple of days” but after weeks, this data has still not been made available to the public (as of this date).  Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request today to try to gain access to this data.  Here is part of our FOIA request:

Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) requests, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):

1)  Herd Area and Herd Management Area Statistics as of March 1, 2019.  This specific data containing the numbers of wild horses and burros in each Herd Area and each Herd Management Area in each state is usually provided to the public online, but has not been released in over a year https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/wildhorse_programdata_2018hmastats.pdf

The BLM released the “On-Range Population Estimate as of March 1, 2019” that shows the total for each state:

ON-RANGE POPULATION ESTIMATE AS OF MARCH 1, 2019

State Horses Burros Total Max. AML
Arizona 534 6,915 7,449 1,676
California 7,332 4,727 12,059 2,200
Colorado 1,891 0 1,891 812
Idaho 710 0 580 617
Montana 162 0 162 120
Nevada 43,281 4,187 47,468 12,811
New Mexico 241 0 241 83
Oregon 4,847 30 4877 2,690
Utah 5,058 339 5,397 1,956
Wyoming 7,836 0 7,836 3,725
Total 71,892 16,198 88,090 26,690

For further details on BLM population estimates, download the complete 2018 HA and HMA Dataset (pdf). The 2019 HA and HMA Dataset will be available soon.

However, as you can see from the sentence right under the chart, the BLM is only providing 2018 data to the public regarding the data on each Herd Area and each Herd Management Area in each state (https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/wildhorse_programdata_2018hmastats.pdf).   The BLM is withholding the 2019 data, despite requests from the public for this information.  In order for the BLM to have estimated the total for each state, the BLM would have needed to use the data from each herd area and herd management area.  We believe the BLM has the requested data, but that they are withholding it from the public.  These records are only about 21 pages, but they contain vital information about the numbers of America’s wild horses & burros on each Herd Area and Herd Management Area.  The public and researchers need access to this data.”

The BLM is withholding important data from the public.  This agency lacks transparency.

7 replies »

  1. Typical NON-transparency by BLM.
    I STILL have an open (all records not supplied to me) FOIA from 2012 !!!
    Why?
    Because the copies of information I requested (which was not complicated) was only asking for data that was REQUIRED PER THE CONTRACT of wild horse and burro capture contractors.
    By NOT supplying this data it is obvious that the contractors did NOT fulfill their contracts and yet the BLM paid them their big paychecks anyway.
    This is FRAUD against the taxpayer – you and me.
    Hundreds of wild horses and burros “disappeared” without documentation that was REQUIRED by their contracts.
    Now you know why my 2012 FOIA has not been fulfilled… proof of FRAUD.
    The contractors were paid their big bucks and the contracts were NOT fulfilled and most importantly the wild horses and burros are long gone………..

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “Bureau Of Land Management Decides It’s Going To Be A Lot Less Receptive To FOIA Requests”

    (excerpts)
    Previously-protected federal lands are being opened up for business, starting with the removal of environmental impact reviews. This should speed up the return of the government’s land to certain people — mining companies, the CBP’s inland expeditions, wall builders, etc. This affects nearly 950 million acres of federal land. A raft of exclusions would make it easier for the Bureau of Land Management to manage land however it sees fit.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180218/18480939265/bureau-land-management-decides-going-to-be-lot-less-receptive-to-foia-requests.shtml

    Liked by 2 people

  3. From ROLLING STONE

    How to Force Government Transparency, Even Under Trump
    Using Freedom of Information Act laws, Boston-based nonprofit MuckRock helps citizens take advantage of their rights
    By
    RICK CARP

    MuckRock recently won a lawsuit against the CIA, which forced the agency to uploaded their giant CREST database, which contains 25 years worth of declassified documents. How hard was this undertaking?
    [Before the lawsuit,] the only way you could access their database was if you went to this remote location of national archives and there was one computer that had access to it, and then they had a video camera trained in it day and night so that they could see and record everyone who was trying to access this information, which, should really be online. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. They gave a bunch of really dumb reasons like, “Oh, it will take 26 years for us to like, digitize all of this and put it online…”
    So basically, we filed a FOIA for all the information on this database, and then in 2014, sued them for it. We had the assistance of a good friend and contributor the site named Mike Best who, while we were suing the CIA, he was personally going there, printing out and scanning these records – just as an ongoing way of irritating them. And basically the end of that result was they just gave up and said “Fine, we’ll just post the whole thing online.” And the weird story there is that archivists were actually totally happy to put the project together. It was just the front-end people who were like, “No, this isn’t possible. We don’t want you to. We don’t want to give up our video camera.”
    There’s an intimidation into ignorance in a lot of the work of these agencies

    https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/how-to-force-government-transparency-even-under-trump-128100/

    Liked by 3 people

  4. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

    Mesa Verde denies access to horse roundup

    ACCESS TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ACTIONS IS A FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT

    Access to federal government actions is a First Amendment right, court says
    By Jim Mimiaga Journal Staff Writer
    Monday, April 29, 2019

    Park Superintendent Cliff Spencer banned media coverage of the roundup in an email April 24

    “If a government agency restricts public access, the media’s only recourse is the court system,” the appeals court said. “The free press is the guardian of the public interest, and the independent judiciary is the guardian of the free press. Thus, courts have a duty to conduct a thorough and searching review of any attempt to restrict public access.”

    https://the-journal.com/articles/136712

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Looks like 2018 is mostly “estimates” as are any numbers from 2019 based on them.

    Interesting they estimate Colorado had 1,702 wild horses in 2018, and they estimate 1,891 for 2019, an increase of 189. However, by their own claims of herds growing 20% annually, that should be over 340 new horses. The difference may be that most of these herds are darted. If so, that shows darting is reducing population growth by at least 150 horses annually, a downward change of almost 9%.

    This is evidence even poorly funded darting programs can probably cut the estimated growth increase by half… though none of these figures include mortality at all ages from a variety of reasons, nor do they account for non-reproducing horses (most of the studs, young fillies and colts, older mares).

    This is more proof we need accurate, independently verified population counts, and an accurate accounting for mortality as well as the numbers of horses actually reproducing in any given herd.

    Barring that we should demand a moratorium on any removals or killing until the actual situations can be verified by other than BLM’s questionable “estimates.” This is not good enough to extinguish so many lives and so many different genetic lines.

    Liked by 1 person

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