Horse News

BLM’s Final Solution for One Third of Wyoming’s Wild Horses

Published by Carol Walker on Wild Hoofbeats

The Bureau of Land Management just announced plans to destroy three wild herds of horses in the Checkerboard Area of Wyoming’s Red Desert. These wild horses are federally protected and living on 2 million acres in southeastern Wyoming.

Past BLM Wyoming Stampede ~ Photo by Carol Walker

The proposed Resource Management Plan would zero out the Salt Wells Creek Herd, the Great Divide Basin Herd, and roundup up and surgically sterilize the entire White Mountain, meaning within a few years this herd will be gone as well. All three of these iconic herds have large sections of “checkerboard” of public and private lands throughout much of the area, which since 2011 has led to several lawsuits. The Rock Springs Grazing Association, the most powerful grazing association in the country wants all of the wild horses removed. Instead of participating in land swaps that would allow consolidation of the public lands that wild horses roam on, they want all of the land, private AND public for grazing their livestock and the wild horses removed completely even though America’s public lands  are “mixed-use” by definition.

The Adobe Town Herd Management Area, which has only a small fraction of Checkerboard and over 478,000 acres will have its Appropriate Management Level (which is the range from low to high of wild horses allowed in the area) cut almost in half, from 610-800 to 225-450.

The plan will result in the removal of over 4000 wild horses from their homes and families and freedom, and 40% of wild horses habitat gone forever.

Changing the Land Use plans as a vehicle for wiping out entire populations of wild horses defies their federally protected status. And the issue here is bigger than wild horses in Wyoming – this may very well serve as BLM’s new template for eradicating all of America’s treasured wild horses.

I will be partnering with the American Wild Horse Campaign in the upcoming legal battle as I have on all the previous lawsuits to protect the wild horses in this area. This cruel and devastating plan that benefits one powerful special interest group cannot be allowed by the American people, 80% of whom want wild horses and burros to continue to roam free on our public lands.

What can you do to help? Today you can sign American Wild Horse Campaign’s petition and pass it along to your friends. Keep an eye out for updates about where to send comments about this horrific plan, and support the legal fund.

Family in Great Divide Basin

Here is the link to the petition:

https://www.change.org/p/trump-administration-don-t-let-the-blm-destroy-wyoming-s-iconic-wild-horses?

21 replies »

  1. Carol, I hope you will share the link to the proposed Resource Management Plan and also some suggestions for us all to use in our public comment letters. Please and Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is beyond my comprehension! I find myself angry at our US House and Senate members! Furious at the people destroying our Wild Horses and BURROS! I curse them all the time! But it seems like advocates are losing the battle! I call, I go to the US House District office armed with documentation and yet it goes NO where! We have two new US House members running and I have met with them and.share the info. In the mean time the ROUNDUPS continue and the slaughter pipeline continues! We have more Cosponsors for HR 961 and SB 2006 than we had in three years! So please tell me what the problem is? Can we afford to wait for a new Congressional session? Very sad Washington is not representing or listening to us! But we can NEVER give up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Louie, that article was from Sept of 2017. There hopefully must have been something done on the vote for the ban by now??

      Like

      • Maggie, I haven’t yet seen any other articles on slaughter..but, as we all know, Wyoming’s politicians (for the most part) have NOT been a friend of our Wild Horses.
        Off topic perhaps, but this article does give some insight for voters in Wyoming as they go to the polls

        Liz Cheney Finally Gets Her Shot at Torturing the Senate (excerpts)
        Wyoming’s Mike Enzi announced his retirement on Saturday.

        STEPHANIE MENCIMER
        Senior Reporter

        She defended “enhanced interrogation”: In 2017, when President Donald Trump announced his support for bringing back torture to fight terrorism, Cheney was one of his most enthusiastic supporters. She had worked in the State Department of the George W. Bush administration, whose waterboarding of terror suspects was the reason Congress banned the practice in the first place. She has promoted the discredited belief that torture helped unearth information leading to the death of Osama bin Laden. “I do support enhanced interrogation,” she said, invoking the Bush administration’s favorite euphemism. “I think that it’s something that clearly has helped us in the past to save lives, and so I was glad to see President Trump take that step.”

        She explained torture to John McCain: In 2018, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) forcefully opposed Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA director because of her role in America’s torture regime during the Bush administration, and her refusal to repudiate it

        https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/05/liz-cheney-finally-gets-her-shot-at-torturing-the-senate/

        Like

      • It seems that Wyoming legislators are good at explaining things….they have a lot of explaining to do to the Public

        Liz Cheney undecided, Lummis dominates Wyoming Senate race
        By MEAD GRUVER, Associated

        CHEYENNE, Wyo. – While Liz Cheney considers whether to run for an open U.S. Senate seat, the race so far has only one well-known candidate: Cynthia Lummis, a fellow Republican and one of only three women to hold Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat.

        Recently she’s had the ear of President Donald Trump, discussing best livestock-grazing practices on public lands in the U.S. West while interviewing in person, twice, for Interior secretary, a job she didn’t get.

        “I raised the issue of how important it is, that grazing is a very, very important enhancement to plant and soil quality,” Lummis said in a recent Associated Press interview. “What’s fun is, he let me explain it to him. And he seemed interested.”

        https://www.columbian.com/news/2019/dec/25/liz-cheney-undecided-lummis-dominates-wyoming-senate-race/

        Like

      • I get the importance but did the vote go nowhere as most do? And yeah I absolutely agree Ms.Cheney & her views sure do not need to get into the Senate! Thanks Louie

        Like

      • It looks as though Cynthia Loomis is considering running for the Senate

        From Republic of Horse
        CYNTHIA LUMMIS

        Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) is the sole U.S. Congressman representing the state of Wyoming. In the summer of 2011, she engaged in an heated exchange while attempting to deflect the House Agriculture Committee from including Jim Moran’s amendment to defund USDA horse slaughter inspections. (See C-Span video,

        Like

      • Well, from what I have read & remember listening to Ms. Lummis a while ago – shes right on a par with Liz Cheney. An advocate for grazing!

        Like

  3. The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
    by ERIK MOLVAR

    Public lands managed by the federal government loom large in western politics, a defining topic dictating the political debate. Corporate interests – logging, grazing, and mineral extraction most prominently – have often succeeded in dominating that debate through their good-old-boy network of legislators, county commissioners, lobby groups, and captive agencies. This powerful group largely controls the imaginary “custom and culture” of the West, a myth which reflects an attitude of dominion over nature, an anti-regulation mindset, and an obsession with economic profit regardless of social or ecological consequences. But in reality, westerners in large numbers don’t actually share these values. With the influx of tech companies and professional workers from other regions, this extraction-centric worldview is becoming a tinier and tinier minority viewpoint in a West that increasingly prizes unspoiled scenery, abundant wildlife, and recreational values above extractive uses of public lands.
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/18/the-ten-big-lies-of-traditional-western-politics/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
    by ERIK MOLVAR

    4) Wild horses are the real threat to western rangeland health

    Western public lands are so uniformly overgrazed that the degradation seems normal. The livestock industry likes to blame this abuse on wild horses. But in reality, most of the West has no wild horses at all. For example, only 12% of sage grouse habitats have any wild horses. 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. Like any herbivore, wild horses can damage their habitats when overpopulated, but given the aggressive program of federal roundups, horses rarely reach these densities.
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/18/the-ten-big-lies-of-traditional-western-politics/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
    by ERIK MOLVAR

    Deconstructing the Big Lies

    It would be easy to conclude that if you catch a politician, a community leader, or anyone else repeating one of these Big Lies, that makes them a liar. While that’s often true, it’s not always so simple. There are plenty of people out there who aren’t in a position to know any better, but are vocal with their opinions nonetheless. Repetition is the way the big lies are adopted as truths: Tell the same falsehood 26 times, according to advertising industry research, and the audience will accept it as common knowledge. Beware the Big Lie in western political discourse. Everyone in the West – and every owner of western public lands (in effect, each American citizen) – should do their part to bring daylight to these falsehoods and to ensure that political decisions that affect us all are driven by realities rather than distortions.

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/10/18/the-ten-big-lies-of-traditional-western-politics/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For new readers or anyone who has not seen this
    .
    DECLARATION OF LLOYD EISENHAUER

    I, Lloyd Eisenhauer, declare as follows:

    1. I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I am a former Bureau of Land Management
    (“BLM”) official with extensive experience in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts in Wyoming and intimate familiarity with the public lands under BLM management in those areas. I have reviewed the consent decree proposed by BLM and the Rock Springs Grazing Association (“RSGA”) in this case and provide this declaration based on my longstanding knowledge of, and management of, wild horses and livestock grazing in the Rock Springs and Rawlins Districts.

    2. I grew up in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming with a livestock and farming background, served in the Marines for four years, and then owned a livestock business from 1952-1958. I enrolled in college in 1958, studying range management. From 1960-1961, BLM hired me to assist with collecting field data for vegetation assessments and carrying capacity surveys related to livestock and wild horses. These surveys were conducted in the Lander, Kemmerer, and Rawlins Districts. When I graduated in 1962, BLM hired me full-time to serve in the Rawlins District in Wyoming, where most of my work focused on grazing management involving sheep, cattle, and wild horses. From 1968-1972, I was Area Manager of the Baggs-Great Divide Resource Area in the Rawlins District. In 1971, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was enacted, and in the spring of 1972, on behalf of BLM, I conducted the first aerial survey of wild horses in Wyoming, recording the number of horses and designating the Herd Management Areas (“HMAs”) for the Rawlins District. After a stint as an Area Manager with BLM’s Albuquerque, New Mexico office, in 1975 I took over as the Chief of Planning and Environmental Analysis in BLM’s Rock Springs District for three years. I was the lead on all planning and environmental assessments. During that time, I also served as the Acting Area Manager of the Salt Wells Resource Area, which is located in the Rock Springs District. In 1979, BLM transferred me to its Denver Service Center to serve as the Team Leader in creating the agency’s automated process for data collection. I received an excellence of service award from the Secretary of the Interior commending me for my work as a Team Leader. In 1982, I became the Head of Automation in BLM’s Cheyenne office, where I managed and implemented the data collection and processing of various systems related to BLM programs. I retired from BLM in 1986, and have stayed very involved in the issue of wild horse and livestock management on BLM lands in Wyoming, and have written articles about the issue in local and other newspaper outlets. I have won various journalistic awards, including a Presidential award, for my coverage of conservation districts in Wyoming. Along with a partner, I operated a tour business (called Backcountry Tours) for six years, taking various groups into wild places in Wyoming – without a doubt wild horses were the most popular thing to see on a tour, in large part due to their cultural and historical value. I also served six years on the governor’s non-point source water quality task force.

    3. Based on my longstanding knowledge of wild horse and livestock management in the Rawlins and Rock Springs Districts, and in the Wyoming Checkerboard in particular, I am very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA, embodied in the proposed Consent Decree they have filed in this case, under which BLM would remove all wild horses located on RSGA’s private lands on the Wyoming Checkerboard.

    4. The Checkerboard is governed by an exchange of use agreement between the federal government and private parties such as RSGA. However, due to state laws, property lines, and intermingled lands, it is impossible to fence the lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard, which means that both the wild horses and the livestock that graze there roam freely between public and private lands on the Checkerboard without any physical barriers. For this reason, it is illogical for BLM to commit to removing wild horses that are on the “private” lands RSGA owns or leases because those same horses are likely to be on public BLM lands (for example, the Salt Wells, Adobe Town, Great Divide, and White Mountains HMAs) earlier in that same day or later that same evening. Essentially, in contrast to other areas of the country where wild horses still exist, on the Wyoming Checkerborad there is no way to distinguish between horses on “private” lands and those on public lands, and therefore it would be unprecedented, and indeed impossible for BLM to contend that it is removing all horses on RSGA’s “private” lands at any given time of the year, month, or day, considering that those horses would only be on the strictly “private” lands very temporarily and intermittently on any particular day .

    5. Another major concern with BLM’s agreement to remove all horses from the private lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard is that BLM is undermining the laws that apply to the Checkerboard, and wild horse management in general, which I implemented during my time as a BLM official. Traditionally, BLM officials (myself included) have understood that, pursuant to the Wild Horse Act, wild horses have a right to use BLM lands, so long as their population numbers do not cause unacceptable damage to vegetation or other resources. In stark contrast, however, livestock (sheep and cattle) have no similar right to use BLM lands; rather, livestock owners may be granted the privilege of using BLM lands for livestock grazing pursuant to a grazing permit that is granted by BLM under the Taylor Grazing Act, but that privilege can be revoked, modified, or amended by BLM for various reasons, including for damage to vegetation or other resources caused by livestock, or due to sparse forage available to sustain livestock after wild horses are accounted for. BLM’s tentative agreement here does the opposite and instead prioritizes livestock over wild horses, by proposing to remove hundreds of wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard without reducing livestock numbers – which, in my view, is contrary to the laws governing BLM’s actions as those mandates were explained to me and administered during the decades that I was a BLM official.

    6. While I do not agree with every management action taken by BLM over the years in the Rock Springs District, I can attest – based on my longstanding employment with BLM and my active monitoring of the agency’s activities during retirement – that BLM has generally proven capable of removing wild horses in the Rock Springs District, including by responding to emergency situations when needed and removing horses when necessary due to resource damage.

    7. Considering that wild horses exhibit different foraging patterns and movement patterns than sheep and cattle, and also than big game such as antelope and elk, no sound biological basis exists for permanently removing wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard at this time. In particular, wild horses tend to hang out in the uplands at a greater distance from water sources until they come to briefly drink water every day or two, whereas livestock congregate near water sources and riparian habitat causing concentrated damage to vegetation and soil. For this reason, the impacts of wild horses are far less noticeable on the Checkerboard than impacts from livestock.

    8. In addition, because livestock tend to eat somewhat different forage than wild horses (horses tend to eat coarser vegetation such as Canadian wild rye and other bunch grasses, whereas cattle and sheep mostly eat softer grasses), there is no justification to remove wild horses on the basis that insufficient forage exists to support the current population of wild horses. Also, because cattle and sheep have no front teeth on the front part of their upper jaws, they tend to pull and tear grasses or other forage out by the root causing some long-term damage to vegetation, whereas wild horses, which have front teeth on both their front upper and lower jaws, act more like a lawnmower and just clip the grass or forage (leaving the root uninjured), allowing the vegetation to quickly grow back. These differences are extremely significant because if there were a need to reduce the use of these BLM lands by animals to preserve these public lands, it might be cattle and sheep – not wild horses – that should be reduced to gain the most benefit for the lands, and which is why BLM, during my time as an agency official, focused on reducing livestock grazing.

    9. BLM’s agreement with RSGA states that RSGA’s conservation plan limited livestock grazing, primarily by sheep, to the winter months to provide sufficient winter forage. This is a good example of “multiple use” management, since wild horses and sheep have very little competition for the forage they consume and the seasons during which they use parts of the Checkerboard. During winter, sheep use the high deserts and horses utilize the uplands and breaks (i.e., different locations) for forage and protection. During the summer, when sheep are not present, wild horses use various landscapes on the Checkerboard. This multiple use should continue for the benefit of the livestock, the wild horses, and the public and private lands involved.

    10. I am also very concerned about BLM’s agreement with RSGA to permanently zero out the Salt Wells HMA and the Divide Basin HMA, leaving no wild horses in those areas that have long contained wild horses. I have been to fifteen of the sixteen HMAs in Wyoming, and to my knowledge none has ever been zeroed out by BLM. It is my view, based on everything I know about these areas and the way these public lands are used by wild horses and livestock, that BLM has no biological or ecological basis for zeroing out a herd of wild horses in an HMA that existed at the time the wild horse statute was passed in 1971, as is the case with both the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs. And, again, because the wild horses have a statutory right to be there, whereas livestock only have a privilege that can be revoked at any time by BLM, there also is no authority or precedent, to my knowledge, for the agency to zero out these two longstanding wild horse herds simply to appease private livestock grazers.

    11. The zeroing out of wild horses in the Salt Wells and Divide Basin HMAs is also concerning because it would mean that, in those two longstanding HMAs, there would no longer be the “multiple use” of these public lands as required by both the Wild Horse Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Currently, while there are other uses of this public land, such as by wildlife, hunters, and recreational users, the two primary uses in those HMAs are by wild horses and livestock. If BLM proceeds with its agreement with RSGA to zero out wild horses in those HMAs, the only major use remaining would be livestock use, meaning that there would be no multiple use of those BLM lands. Not only will that potentially undermine the laws that BLM officials must implement here, but it has practical adverse effects on the resources – multiple use is very beneficial for the environment, and particularly for sensitive vegetation, because different users (e.g., livestock, wild horses) use the lands and vegetation in different ways. When that is eliminated, the resources are subjected to an unnatural use of the lands which can cause severe long-term damage to the vegetation. As a result, zeroing out these herds would likely bedevastating for the vegetation in these two HMAs, because livestock would be by far the predominant use in this area.

    12. Turning the White Mountain HMA into a non-reproducing herd, as the agreement between BLM and RSGA proposes to do, is also a farce, and violates the meaning of a wild and free-roaming animal. This is essentially a slow-motion zeroing out of this HMA, and is inconsistent with any wild horse management approach I am familiar with that BLM has implemented on public lands.
    Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746, I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

    Lloyd Eisenhauer

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Among so many other concerns, isn’t it perfectly clear that cutting an AML by half in one sudden announcement points directly to BLM incompetence? Were the initial AMLs incorrect, or has the range been so degraded by 50 years of BLM “management” it justifies such a drastic action?

    There’s no answer in this that exonerates the BLM. They should be relieved of any responsibilities for our wild horses and burros as the past 50 years shows pretty muct textbook incompetence and corruption. Anyone in private industry would have been booted long ago. Why do we keep paying these “actors?”

    Liked by 1 person

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