by Carol Walker as published on Wild Hoofbeats
Devastating Roundup and Removal proposed for Sand Wash Basin Wild Horses
By Carol J. Walker
The Bureau of Land Management has published a proposal for removal of removing 772 wild horses from Sand Wash Basin starting this summer. This is over 80% of the wild horses that are currently within the Basin and outside the boundaries of the 156,000 acre Herd management Area. You can find the Environmental Assessment here: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2012689/510
I have been following and photographing the wild horses in this herd since 2011. I attended the dangerous and deadly helicopter roundup in Sand Wash Basin in 2008 where 11 wild horses died. This herd is one of the most famous and beloved of the wild horses in the west. People travel from all over the country and all over the world to see these horses. They should be managed where they live on our public lands.
The last aerial census that the BLM has done was March of 2019. They did not do a count in 2020 or 2021, they just assumed a 13% increase in population. If you are going to claim an “excess” amount of wild horses it is important to actually count them and have a real and not a made up number to work from. The BLM wants to remove horses down to low Appropriate Management Level, which would leave 163 wild horses. This number is not even enough to provide genetic viability for the horses that remain – that number needs to be 150-200 adults according to the leading wild horse geneticist, Dr. Gus Cothren.
The three alternatives proposed discuss using a 10 year plan where the horses could be removed all at once or they could be removed over several years. These 10 year plans are in violation of NEPA – every time the BLM takes action on a wild horse herd they should submit a new plan that the public can comment upon.
Alternative A which is the Proposed Action includes removing wild horses to the low end of AML which is 163 wild horses and skewing the sex ration may be done up to 40% mares to 60% stallions, using birth control such as PZP, Gonacon and possibly putting IUDs in wild mares.
Sex ratio skewing can destroy the fabric of wild horse families. It can be extremely detrimental because of the increased fighting between stallions and instability of the family bands. Wild horse herds naturally occur at 50% stallions to 50% mares, and just doing this with no care for the effects on the horses is not a good idea. It is a kitchen sink idea.
IUDs should never be used on wild mares. There has only been 1 study on 8 wild mares in 2020, and this is not enough to prove that it is safe and effective. I do not understand why they consider this to be a “temporary” method of birth control. Do they plan to remove the IUDs at a later date? There is no plan in this EA to do this. The National Academy of Sciences in their 2013 report expressed concern about the IUDs leading to inflammation in wild mares. In human woman, the IUDs can move around in the body and cause injury and death. Simply throwing this in as a method of birth control because Oklahoma State University received a large grant to study it does not justify using an unproven and dangerous method of birth control on wild horses.
Since the wild horses in this herd have already been being treated with PZP, why add additional methods of birth control? Why not continue and bolster the program that is already in place?
If there are drought conditions, the livestock grazing leases for sheep should be retired. Water should be hauled if necessary to the waterholes.
The 772 wild horses that are planned to be removed are not all going to be adopted. Many will die during the roundup and afterward at the short term holding facilities where they are processed. GEMS cannot take 772 horses. The Sand Wash Basin wild horses are safest where they belong on the public lands where they live. They should be managed on the range.
Alternative B is to roundup and remove to the low end of AML leaving 163 wild horses and do not use birth control
Alternative C is the NO Action Alternative, no roundup and removal, no birth control.
For your comments, you may use my talking points, but please be sure to use your own words.
I am suggesting the selection of Alternative C, the No Action Alternative.
- IUDs should never be used on wild mares.
- Use PZP which is already being given to mares in the herd to the wild horses in the herd if birth control is needed.
- Do not use Sex Ratio Skewing.
- Put in a fence along the roughly 10 miles of the HMA adjoining highway 318.
- The horses outside the HMA should be returned to the HMA boundaries rather than being removed.
- Retire the sheep grazing leases in the HMA. Wild horses should be managed as the principle species in the HMA.
- Do an actual count of wild horses in the HMA using an independent agency.
- Raise the AML for the herd.
- All roundup and removal plans need to be put on hold until a new National Plan gets worked out with public input.
Sand Wash Basin’s Wild Horses need your help. Please comment and get the word out.
Please submit your comments by May 2 to the BLM. Please use your own words. If you submit comments through a group form, all the comments will be counted as 1.
You can submit your individual comments online here: https://eplanning.blm.gov/eplanning-ui/project/2012689/570/8002143/comment
You can mail comments to: BLM Little Snake Field Office, 455 Emerson St, Craig, CO 81625.
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: email@example.com
Our wild horses are counting on you. Please get the word out and make your voice heard.