The Bureau of Land Management is developing a new Resource Management Plan in Wyoming and has an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for proposed changes to the management of four wild horse herds in Wyoming: Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin and White Mountain. The BLM’s proposed actions in their “Preferred Alternative” would zero out the Great Divide Basin Herd, zero out the Salt Wells Creek Herd and the White Mountain Herd and cut the Adobe Town Appropriate Management Level by half. Comments are due on this plan by April 30.
Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, Adobe Town and White Mountain encompass 2,811,401acres, 70 percent of which is federally managed public land and 30% is mostly private lands with some state owned lands.
At issue here is the Checkerboard – a mix of public and private lands 20 miles wide that was set up in the 1870s, when the government was selling private land plots to raise money for the railroad. The private land, about 891,807 acres, is owned by Occidental, the parent company of Anadarko, and the Rock Springs Grazing Association, an association of 24 families. The Rock Springs Grazing Association has been working very hard over the last 8 years to get all of the horses removed from the Checkerboard area even though it is not all private land – it is a mix of private and public land. They have been involved in 4 lawsuits regarding the status of wild horses on federally protected public lands and this proposal is the latest, most sweeping and devastating attempt to have all the wild horses removed. RSGA and the BLM have been attempting to manage the Checkerboard as if it were all private land but it is not, and that is illegal.
I have been observing and photographing wild horses in these four HMAs for the past 16 years. All four herds are distinct, and the horses have different characteristics. They all deserve to be preserved. When 80% of Americans want to see wild horses managed humanely on our public lands, 24 families who only want to have livestock on our public lands should not be able to dictate their fate.
The White Mountain Herd boasts the “Wild Horse Loop Tour” which is an important feature to locals and to tourist alike. The road is a good one and there is interpretive signage. It is very easy to see wild horses if you drive this route. Tourism is a major source of income for the State of Wyoming, and tourists come to see wild horses in Wyoming. This is one of the easiest areas to see and photograph them and if the White Mountain Herd is zeroed out that opportunity would no longer exist.
This “Preferred Alternative” would mean that 4000 wild horses would be removed from the four Herd Management Areas, which is 40% of all the wild horses in Wyoming. The AML for Adobe Town would be 259 – 536 horses, and the BLM could use spaying of mares, gelding of stallions, skewing of sex ratios, helicopter roundups and other methods to keep the population in check, despite the grave danger and inhumane suffering that spaying of wild mares presents and the possible huge impacts to the wild behaviors of the horses that would be subjected to by all of these methods. Sterilizing this herd means instead of an immediate zeroing out, it will be a slow destruction – no more foals and as the horses age they will die out slowly.
I suggest that in your comments you select Alternative A which will manage wild horses in their respective 4 herds at the current Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) for each herd with a total AML 1481-2065 and use the proven and humane birth control method of PZP to manage the populations of each of these herds if necessary.
Another suggestion would be to require land swaps from the private land holders so that public lands on the Checkerboard could be consolidated. Then wild horses could be relegated to the public lands areas of the four Herd Management Areas, leaving them wild and free and in their homes with enough room on the public lands where they belong.
I also suggest that you request that the BLM must reduce livestock grazing within these four Herd Management Areas. BLM has a statutory mandate to protect wild horses while livestock grazing is a privilege which is permitted at the discretion of the Department of the interior. Livestock grazing does not need to be allowed in order to fit the BLM’s guidelines of “multiple use.” It would be far more cost effective to remove the livestock from public lands since the BLM loses money on the grazing leases, than it would to remove and warehouse the 4000 wild horses it plans to roundup. The BLM’s program of warehousing wild horses is completely unsustainable and the effects on the wild horses are devastating. During the last Checkerboard roundup of 2017 hundreds of wild horses died within the months following the roundup in holding facilities. The very unsustainability of this broken program is heading toward a future where destroying the over 45,000 wild horses in holding may become inevitable.
The BLM never considers the fate of the wild horses it rounds up and removes in its planning process. But I do. Removing wild horses from our public lands has an impact on the taxpaying citizens of the United States who lose an opportunity to observe, photography, study and enjoy these wild horses where they belong, in their homes, with their families, managed humanely and sustainably.
Please request that the BLM select Alternative A. Use your own words. If you sign onto a comment form instead of commenting yourself, 2000 comments just get read as 1. It only takes a few minutes to get onto the BLM site and submit comments online. Your comments will make a difference. Thank you for caring about our wild horses.
Here is the link to submit your comments by April 30th, 2020:
Click on the link above, and look down to the first line that says “Wild Horse Amendment” – on the right there is a button that says “Comment on Document.” Press this and you will go to the online comment form.