Horse News

Return to Freedom uses fear tactic to push disastrous proposal for America’s wild horses & burros

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

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

Sadly, as many of you know, Return to Freedom, ASPCA, HSUSHumane Society Legislative Fund, and the little known American Mustang Foundation (formed by lobbyists in 2016), threw their hats in the ring with many pro-horse slaughter livestock industry organizations, including the National Cattlemen’s Association, 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.

Return to Freedom 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.

Return to Freedom is now touting this plan as a “non-lethal” management plan.

This is delusional…(CONTINUE at Wild Horse Freedom Federation)

31 replies »

  1. Repeat..Repeat…Repeat

    Important information to give to Congress
    From AWHC

    Genetic Diversity and Viability (excerpts)

    When the statistics for wild burro herds are isolated from wild horse numbers the picture is even more dismal. Of the 56 areas having wild burros, 14 contain viable populations.

    Using these BLM statistics, the number of wild horse and burro herds with an AML of over 150 animals, the absolute minimum population size to insure long term genetic viability, is startling. Out of 209 areas, only 52 areas met this minimum requirement. This means that 75% or 3/4 of the herds are IN DANGER OF EXTINCTION if managed at AML.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Link? Date? I’m curious about the “209” areas as the remaining legal areas are below 175 now by other accounts, from a 1970s tally of over 300. As more areas are zero’d out or “managed” as non-reproducing this number will fall further, and much faster. I suppose this is what some call “management” but others call a death spiral.


      • Wild Burros are almost gone. They are an Endangered Species

        BLM Advisory Board meeting Sept 9-11, 2013
        Dr. Lori Eggert, University of Missouri – Genetic Diversity

        12 burro HMAs with populations between 2 and 49 animals.
        Burro populations do need priority for genetic management.

        Maintenance of genetic diversity over time is going to require higher population size than even the largest HMA now has. Suggest managing metapopulation – considering population as a whole and outside intervention required if populations maintained at current AMLs.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Louie. That article isn’t dated but seems older, it shows 6 herds in Colorado when for some time now there has been only four. By my estimation we are below 175 legal areas (HMAs and HAs) today, and as referenced by the article, many are at or below genetic viability so are winking out already.


      • Also from American Herds.
        Herd Management Areas and Herd Areas (zeroed out)


        In 2004, BLM began publishing statistical data related to the Wild Horse & Burro Program, which included acreage, estimated populations and Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs). At this time, two sets of Herd Area/Herd Management Area data was reported. The first report was a National Program Summary of state totals including acreage, populations and AMLs but individual Herd Area/Herd Management Area statistics were published in separate documents arranged by state. In 2008, BLM combined these two reports into a single document. Therefore, between 2004 and 2007, individual Herd Area/Herd Management Area statistical data is provided in separate documents while publications from 2008 combine both the national summary as well as the individual data for each Herd Area/Herd Management Area by state.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Louie, great links, thanks for posting them. Sadly the statistics by fiscal year reports are all older, the newest is almost a decade old now. I wonder why or where the data from the intervening years may be, up to the current year? I can’t get the ear of my congresspeople with decade old information, unless it is used to compare with current data.


      • Thanks, GrandmaGregg, for your link. What I am searching for is the current number (total) of HMAs and HAs, which I believe were 303 or a few more in 1971, but are now around 175. The “209” referenced in other links above may have been true at one time but isn’t true today.

        And herds which become “managed” as “non-reproducing” should also be included as “zero’d out” areas since they will be slowly winking out forever.


      • GG, thanks for the 2019 info, I just came across this post from you and saved it off. I need to check through it though, since I know West Douglas for one has been zero’d out and that should have reduced the number from what it was a few years ago (177) and also a few others have been wiped out as well.

        Colorado’s largest HMA (Sand Wash Basin) supposedly has ~800 horses, and the only three other areas are kept at much lower population sizes so the 1,891 count is suspicious to me right off the top.

        I do note this BLM source shows the Sand Wash Basin with only 621 “estimated” so even their own estimates don’t match within this document… pg. 1 shows 1,891 but the Colorado specific chart shows only 1,421. So already they are overestimating the total by 400 ghost horses!

        Liked by 1 person

      • What charts are you looking at???
        The BLM March 2019 stats or ?
        I can’t really answer you without knowing what you are looking at but will give it a try.

        As for the West Douglas you said, “I need to check through it though, since I know West Douglas for one has been zero’d out and that should have reduced the number from what it was a few years ago (177)”
        As you can see on the 2019 BLM stats THEY SAY there are 305 wild horses there as of this past March. I personally am not too familiar with that HA but I know they have been capturing and removing every horse they can from there … for years.
        That is the WHOLE point of my spreadsheet (SFTHH May 2018) … the BLM states there are 305 but do they have scientific proof of their bogus populations? Plus the BLM says the last time they captured/removed wild horses from the West Douglas was Sept 2015 … is that correct?

        I have seen so much “baloney” stated by BLM over the years that I do not believe anything they say … and that is the whole point. Here is a prime example of BLM’s fraud:
        Question: Since when does 175 minus 80 = 635?
        Answer: When BLM does the math.
        BLM’s Black Mt Burro Estimated Pre-Gather Population 175
        BLM states Number of Black Mt Burros Removed 80
        BLM’s Then Estimated A Post Gather Population 635!

        Many many of the BLM’s population census are not based on science and many are biologically impossible.

        Why is this important? Because those bogus population numbers are what they tell Congress and the media and the public and that is so that they can get more funding for their district (field office/state/and the whole program) and these bogus BLM population census will be and is a MAJOR cause of their road to extinction.


  2. Since I still received emails from RTF – this was my comment to them:
    “Sorry, RTF – this “plan” is not truly non-lethal management! It depends upon the BLM’s management once again & REMOVES 15,000 wild horses every year for how long? Removes them to the same holding pens where there are already far too many wild horses – the same management that continues to label horses “sale authority” after being offered 3 times? Three strikes & youre out? Since the HSUS benefits from this plan – why would they be against it? And then there is this so-called American Mustang Assoc – formed by ????
    Exactly where are all these horses going to go in the next “ten” years? Honestly, for an organization that I always thought put our wild horses first – what are you thinking?
    I’m afraid that by joining the BLM and taking their word that there is an over-population of wild horses – rather than making the public more aware of the truth of the numbers & the zeroing out of far too many HMAs – your organization and the others involved in this “plan” will be as responsible as the BLM for eradicating our native wild horses & destroying their wild places.”
    It wont change their actions, but I felt it necessary to state my feelings. I would hope that anyone else who still hears from them will do the same?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. From AWHC

    Genetic Diversity and Viability

    Dr. Cothran has worked in collaboration with Dr. Francis Singer, a research ecologist with the Biological Resources Division of USGS in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dr. Singer’s conclusions will be published in mid to late October of this year. His preliminary evidence, however, has been eluded to in a July 7, l999 letter from BLM Field Manager, Sandra Brooks to Custer National Forest Ranger, Rand Herzberg regarding the need to expand the range for the Pryor Wild Horse herd.

    Ms. Brooks states that “preliminary evidence suggests that the herd {Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Herd} has been managed at dangerously minimum levels over the past 25 years and an increase in established appropriate management levels (AML’s) will need to be considered in order to preserve the genetic viability of the herd.”

    Just how dangerously small is the wild horse population in the Pryors? Dr. Singer indicated in his 1997 report to the Pryor Mountain Management Forum that the herd had averaged 169 animals in each autumn count from 1992-1996, a count that includes the foals of the year. According to BLM’s own statistics, the Pryor herd size is larger than 61% of the herds under their management. The Pryor AML of 121 is larger than 70% of the herd areas by AML based on the BLM’s last formal report to Congress in 1995.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. There has been a lot of speculation as to why America’s Wild Horses & Burros are continually targeted by the establishment. Much of it is and has been about $ BUT…is there another possible motive? Is it because they are Federally Protected and as such pose an impediment?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. From Counterpunch

    JANUARY 8, 2016
    BLM Leadership Coddles Hostile and Law Breaking Nevada Ranchers(excerpts)

    Is this ineptitude on the part of BLM leadership, political interference, or something else? Kornze increasingly appears to be either the most bungling BLM Director ever – or a fellow traveler with the Nevada public Land Grab crowd. While we continue to see PR photos of the BLM Director on outdoor excursions, important areas of the American West are being handed over to the welfare ranchers through a policy of capitulation and appeasement – resulting in a de facto loss of federal control and stealth Land Grab.

    Liked by 2 people

    Republican lawmakers today slammed an extraordinary move by the Interior Department to pull the plug on all department-related House Appropriations Committee staff travel, suggesting the Trump administration will soon rue the decision.

    Interior’s policy change appears to have been sparked by a disputed encounter between a political appointee and a key committee staffer.

    “The Department of the Interior will not be funding any travel for House Appropriation staff until the ethics issue with their staff is resolved … and the assurance is made that all our employees will be treated equally, fairly and respectfully,” an Interior spokesperson said in a statement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This sounds like a practice run for moving the BLM headquarters away from the center of legislative deal making. If this works, the BLM could simply refuse any travel funding for legislative aides posted in the hinterlands to actually get any face time with lawmakers.


  7. This is how the Trump administration quietly incapacitates the government (a few excerpts)
    By Dana Milbank

    President Trump spent his summer making war on Denmark, attacking Baltimore, destabilizing the world economy, sending an imaginary hurricane to Alabama and ousting his national security adviser, among other things. But while everybody was watching those fireworks, Trump’s underlings — some far more competent than he — were toiling in the shadows to hand over public lands to the tender mercies of oil and gas companies

    4. The relocation was overseen by Interior assistant secretary Joseph Balash , up until days before he took employment for himself with an oil-exploration company.

    5. When Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said it appeared that the proposal, which doesn’t have congressional approval, was a “deliberate effort to dismantle” BLM, Balash threatened Udall, saying he would “reconsider the relocation of additional Departmental resources to your State” in retaliation.

    6. Many workers being shipped out of Washington are reportedly being offered lower-level, lower-pay jobs — confirming suspicions that the real purpose is to drive experts out of government and thereby shrink the agency.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Here’s the complete list


    American Farm Bureau
    Federation Society for Range Management
    Humane Society Legislative Fund
    Public Lands Council
    Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation
    National Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition
    Eureka County, NV County Commission Office
    Humane Society of the United States
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
    Beaver County, UT County Commission Office
    American Mustang Foundation
    Utah Governor Office


    • Wow, only about half a dozen non-government entities on that short list which includes numerous conflicted interests, yet this is supposed to represent ALL American stakeholders. How can so short a list even pretend to speak for ~330 million citizens? And get them to pay for this?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Full court press underway. Many questionable claims being pushed by “acting” BLM director Pendley, including the baseless claim of a national AML of 27,000. This number was a guesstimate of the populations still alive in 1971 when the law was passed unanimously by Congress to protect them as “fast disappearing.” Part of the law required accurate inventorying of herds, which remains undone as most are accomplished by modeling, false data regarding mortality and reproduction rates, and a nearly complete lack of independent verification of BLM’s published population “counts.”

    This AP article is showing up a lot of places but this has no comments at all yet, and is the local paper for Colorado Springs, home of The Cloud Foundation:

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a copy of an old BLM document (now disappeared from the internet) that I wish you could see. It has estimated wild horses and burros from the years 1971 onward. The doc shows in Nov 1971 the WH population was 17,300 and the WB population was 8,045. Of course they really had no idea.
      Two foaling seasons later (Jan 1974) the WH population is shown as 42,666 (approximate 57% per year surviving foal increase) and WB population as 14,374 (approximate 34% per year surviving foal increase). This in itself proves that their original 1971 populations were incorrect and that is what the current AML is based on.
      One more factor is that it is my understanding that when the 1971 law was passed, the BLM told ranchers and others “go out and get the wild horses and burros” … no questions asked. This was the active mustangers to pet food era so of course thousands were captured and sold to slaughter. Per the document, the next few years about 67,000 wild horses and a few burros were REPORTED as “claimed” and captured/removed. If 67,000 were the ones that were actually reported to BLM as “private, claimed” horses then can we imagine how many thousands were captured and sent to slaughter that were not even reported?
      The point is that there is no way that the original wild horse and burro populations were anywhere even close to correct therefore the so-called AML is based on falsified data.
      This is hard to explain without you seeing the document but I hope you and others get the idea.


      • GG, thanks, and yes! The trouble today is nobody in Congress will understand the back story and will believe the 27,000 “sustainable” AML is a credible, fact-based number when it is fanciful. I think we should all respond to any AML comment with the response that AML is an ARBITRARY MANAGEMENT LEVEL, nothing more. Especially when as we all know here that in their legal areas wild horses and burros are by law granted PRINCIPAL forage allowances, and that in essentially every place we still have wild horses and burros under management they are also obliged to accommodate livestock grazing.

        The logical first step is to remove livestock or in other ways manage both to live on public lands but NOT IN COMPETITION with each other. If rangeland degradation is indeed as extreme as is being claimed, the first to go should be the grazing permits, as these are by law revokable or amendable based on field conditions. If all our wild horses and burros completely disappear, however, the range conditions that are still struggling from hundreds of years of abuse will continue to manifest, despite claims to the contrary.

        Further, since we still don’t have accurate, independently verifiable population inventories, it only makes sense to demand a moratorium on irreversible actions unless and until we find consensus on the numbers and genetic viability (or lack thereof).

        For scale, consider that just in Colorado we boast having around 300,000 Elk and 270,000 Mule Deer, which in turn props up some of our largest revnue sources from hunting. These animals live in roughly about half the state, yet are not considered overpopulated. One fifth that number over ten states on public lands does not therefore seem to be a crisis.

        What we need are better ways for the public to register support for keeping wild horses and burros wild, in the wild, through funding mechanisms that don’t exist today because the BLM/USFS have ignored them. Most hunted wildlife are in fact supported by sales of licenses and stamps, so why can’t we do something similar for wild horses and burros, but just not have to kill them? If we had habitat stamps for sale for all our remaining HMAs this would be one good way to realistically measure public interest and value that doesn’t exist today. Why we don’t already do this is an open question, but should be brought forward at every opportunity.

        We do need managed herds, but the “save them all” or “kill them all” extremes serve none but private interests.


      • So much to say … ! Let me just say that our wild horses and burros do not need to be managed if they were allowed to live wild on their original 53,800,000 acres of federal land. I know this is being simplistic to a complicated issue but if that was done then about a quarter of a million wild horses and burros could survive on those legal lands and if (as per the law) they were given the PRINCIPLE habitat of those acres. (51% to wild horses and burros and the balance to other wildlife and of course get the private domestic non-native livestock OFF our public lands – starting with the original herd area lands).

        You may have already noticed on a herd area map, that almost all the original herd areas are attached or are in close proximity to each other …with very few fragments. This is very important and BLM has done everything in their power to chop up those lands into small isolated islands of non-genetically viable herds known as HMAs. In addition, the bottom line is the fraudulent population figures that BLM spews each year because those fraudulent figures are what almost every BLM wild horse and burro decision is based on. How can a legitimate decision be made if it is based on illegitimate data? IT CAN NOT.

        Maybe we can continue this gigantic conversation in the future because I think you and many others can clearly see the corruption and fraud that has been pulled over the eyes of the American citizens and our government representatives all for the sake of the almighty dollar and control of power. Once a person actually sees the truth … how can they not fight for what is right?

        Not all inclusive but definitely informational document with maps:


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