by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats
Action Alert! You can Submit Comments and Make Your Voice Heard to Stop the Bureau of Land Management’s Monstrous Plan by April 30, 2021
By Carol J. Walker
On April 1, 2021 the Bureau of Land Management published their Environmental Assessment for five wild horse herds in the Red Desert of Wyoming, in the public lands that include the Checkerboard: Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, White Mountain and Little Colorado. These herds are on 3,436,000 acres. Despite having a new administration and a new Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, the BLM pushed out this plan to remove 3555 wild horses, the largest proposed roundup in history. This brutal plan includes as alternatives for the remaining horses left on the range dangerous spaying of wild mares, putting IUDs in wild mares and gelding stallions. Not only does the BLM want to remove as many wild horses as possible without even doing an actual count of their numbers for the past two years, they want to leave the remaining horses sterilized so that ultimately the wild horses will be eradicated in these areas. Here is the link to the documents: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/1501993/570
If you are asking why, the main reason for this aggressive action is the Rock Springs Grazing Association. They are one of the most powerful grazing associations in the country despite only having about a couple dozen member families, and they are the primary holders of grazing leases in these Herd Management Areas and the primary holders of private land within the Checkerboard. They consider all these 3,946,000 acres of public and private land to be “theirs.”
They will never rest until all the wild horses have been eradicated, and they have considerable influence over the Bureau of Land Management. I have been observing, photographing and documenting wild horses in these areas since 2004 and involved in 5 lawsuits to stop the destruction of these wild horse herds over the past 8 years, and no doubt soon will be a plaintiff on yet another lawsuit. If not for keen public involvement and lawsuits, these herds would have been zeroed out long ago. Under this plan, there will be 1550 wild horses total left on 3,436,000 acres, or one horse per 2216 acres.
Here is the imaginative table that includes population estimates based on made up numbers:
Normally, the Rock Springs BLM conducts an aerial survey in April paid for by the Rock Springs Grazing Association, with one member of the Association on board the plane in which they use a statistical double-count method to come up with their numbers. So it is not an actual count. But this year, things have gotten even more falsely devised. They did not even do a survey in 2020 or in 2021, they just picked “20% increase” and called it good. When making up the figure of 20% they do not consider deaths of older horses and the foal death rate which can be as high as 40% depending upon weather conditions. The actual increase is most likely closer to 8 – 10%. I would like an independent agency not affiliated with the BLM or the Rock Springs Grazing Association to do an actual count using real numbers. How can you possible claim that a herd of wild horses is overpopulated when you do not have reliable data to make that determination? And yet this is how the BLM makes their decisions.
We must keep in mind that this roundup is really a preamble to the future Resource Management Plan for this area. The BLM is in the midst of revising this plan and their ultimate goal is to zero out three of these herds entirely: Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin and White Mountain. They will revise the Appropriate Management Level of the Adobe Town Herd downward and virtually sterilize the herd, and keep the Little Colorado Herd at an AML of 69 which is far below the level needed for genetic viability.
The BLM offers 4 alternatives, and their preferred alternative is Alternative II. This would be to remove 3555 wild horses, which in their made up estimation of numbers would equal low Appropriate Management Level for each herd, but in reality since these numbers are inflated, would mean many less horses than that would remain. 842 wild horses will be released back into the HMAs with 420 mares given PZP or Gonacon birth control and 290 of these mares that are not pregnant also having an IUD inserted.
They include Alternative III which is just roundup and remove 3555 wild horses, and then there is Alternative IV. In this alternative 3555 wild horses will be removed, 84 mares will be spayed, 253 will be given Gonacon or PZP and 126 stallions will be gelded. They will also skew the sex ratio from the naturally occurring 50-50 mares to stallions ratio to 60-40 stallions to mares. This Frankenstein’s list of everything you can do to destroy a herd of wild horses is so clearly over the top that I think it is supposed to scare us into thinking that Alternative II is a good deal by contrast. Then, Alternative I is the no action alternative.
The people who prepared this plan and this Environmental Assessment in no way shape or form have the welfare of the wild horses in these 5 herds as any sort of consideration or priority. They go on and on about a Thriving Natural Ecological Balance so often that they have created a new acronym: TNEB. If this was actually true, then the livestock grazing allotments would not look like this:
Putting IUDs in wild mares has only been done once, in 2020 to 8 mares in the Swasey Herd. The study has not been completed so there is not enough data to suddenly decide that it is safe, and it is interesting that they rank putting IUDs in wild mares to be a “temporary contraceptive measure.” I find this hard to believe unless they are planning to remove the IUDs? Nothing was said about this although they think some of the IUDs could fall out. And what about the trauma the wild mares will be subjected to while this procedure is being done? What if there is inflammation of the uterus, brought up as a concern in the 2013 National Academy of Sciences Study Commissioned by the BLM or if the IUD travels to other parts of the body, which can actually kill human women when that happens? What if the mares become pregnant while the IUD is in place? How could they help a wild mare who is in distress when she is in a HMA on hundreds of thousands of acres? Why would they do this to the mares when they are already giving them birth control? Is it because Oklahoma State University got a huge grant and they want to experiment on wild horses?
Please contact the following:
President Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Phone (with employee directory): (202) 208-3100
FedRelay number: (800)877-8339 (TTY)
Your Senators: https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm
Your Representatives: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
Nada Wolff Culver, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management
Phone: 202-208-2801, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our wild horses are counting on you. Please get the word out and make your voice heard.