Horse News

Advocates question necessity of latest government roundup of wild horses

Source: Fox13Now

“What I would ultimately like to have happen is an investigation into the BLM and to have them removed as the managers of these wild horses,”

Carol Walker and her mustang companion, Mica.

LONGMONT, Co. — On her 44 acre property tucked in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Carol Walker feeds her horses an afternoon treat.

Though Micah and Hermoso are living a sweet life, it still pains carol that they’re kept inside a fence.

“I love them both dearly, but I wish that they had stayed wild and free,” she said.

A 1971 law protects wild horse numbers. However, the two adopted mustang brothers are in her care because they were captured in separate roundups by the Bureau of Land Management, the government agency tasked with keeping track of their numbers.

If there are too many, the bureau, or the BLM as it’s referred to, herds them into corrals via helicopter, puts them into a long-term holding facility, examines them, and then the horses are offered for adoption.

“What the BLM is doing right now is completely against the spirit and the letter of this act, but nobody is stopping them,” said Walker.

What Walker, who also photographs wild horses, is referring to is a string of recent roundups, including one ongoing right now in the southwestern corner of Wyoming. It’s a huge undertaking encompassing five different areas, and it’s estimated to last weeks.

Brad Purdy, the spokesperson for the BLM, says this roundup is necessary because there are too many wild horses there for the land to sustain. However, there are voices saying that’s not necessarily the case.

Erik Molvar is an environmental biologist and director of the Western Watersheds Project, an organization that aims to improve public land management. He says the pressure that grazing done by domestic cattle and sheep is outpacing any damage to the land done by wild horses. He argues the number of wild horses the Wyoming land can sustain is actually more than the BLM’s numbers show.

“Right now, the wild horses are about four times that appropriate management and yet still the land is meeting the thriving natural ecological balance, which calls into question whether that appropriate management level has anything to do with a thriving, natural ecological balance at all, or whether what it really set at is to keep the wild horse populations low so they can have more domestic livestock out there,” said Molvar.

State governments have stepped up with concern about roundups. At the end of August, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis wrote to the US Department of the interior that he is “extremely concerned” with the rate of the roundups and called for a six-month moratorium on them for the American public to weigh in.

Another issue Walker has is what happens to the horses after they’re rounded up. Right now, 50,000 horses are in long-term holding, waiting to be adopted. There’s an incentive program that gives up to $1,000 to anyone who adopts an untrained wild horse.

Walker is currently a plaintiff in a lawsuit against this practice, saying folks are taking the money and then selling the horses to auction where they could be killed.

“What I would ultimately like to have happen is an investigation into the BLM and to have them removed as the managers of these wild horses,” she said.

Purdy said that while the area where the Wyoming round up is occurring is near private grazing land, the decision to remove horses is based solely on there being too many, saying quote, “BLM would be gathering horses regardless of the land patterns or ownership of the private lands as required by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.”

Walker hopes more attention is brought to this issue, the more people stand up for America’s mustangs

“If people aren’t standing up strongly for them, aren’t fighting for them, these horses are just going to disappear,” she said, “and I don’t want to have a library of photos of animals that have disappeared.”

7 replies »

  1. “If there are too many, the bureau, or the BLM as it’s referred to, herds them into corrals via helicopter, puts them into a long-term holding facility, examines them, and then the horses are offered for adoption.”
    If there are too many? There are not. Wild horses are below genetic viability. The WY checkerboard herds may be some of the very last genetically viable populations, exactly why they are targeted – total eradication is the plan.
    Herds them into corrals? If you call deadly helicopter military assault type stampedes “herding”.
    Puts them into long term holding facilities and examines them for adoptions? Some LTH facilities on paper do not even exist. There’s no proof of 50,000 wild horses in holding facilities and long term holding facility horses are not allowed to be adopted. There’s wild horses in killpens every single day across America. Experimenting on wild horses with sterilizing fertility treatments, branding them, gelding them, shooting them, etc.. isn’t “examining” – it’s violating the FRWHBA.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is disingenuous at best, coming from a BLM official who surely is aware of the long conflict between the rights of the American public and the Rock Springs Grazing Assn. who has for decades been seeking to eliminate wild horses on the public lands mixed among their private lands — and whose for-profit livestock graze at public expense on those same public lands.

    “Purdy said that while the area where the Wyoming round up is occurring is near private grazing land, the decision to remove horses is based solely on there being too many, saying quote, “BLM would be gathering horses regardless of the land patterns or ownership of the private lands as required by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.’”

    As the National Academy of Sciences indicated, the BLM’s “Appropriate Management Levels” for wild horse populations are not based in science but superstition and supposition. They are rightly called ARBITRARY Management Levels clearly aiming at extermination of both vigor and population survival. Why are they never held accountable for their lethal practices against those they are paid to protect?

    Liked by 2 people

    • As its up to the private land owner to fence OUT animals from their land (private land) – is it the case that ALL of these private owners are leasors (?) of Public land grazing allotments in the checkerboard areas? Because if not, seems to me that this GRAZING organization is using the excuse of Wild Horses “infringing” upon their own private land – So? If they did this (which they wont, of course) would that then mean the horses would be unable to migrate from one section of public to another? Frankly, this whole checkerboard arrangement may have worked 100 or 200 years ago – might be due for a change. For instance, land swaps! But of course the livestock producers have the upper hand here, dont they?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Evidently most of the privately owned land in the WY Checkerboard is owned by Anadarko Energy, who has grazing agreements with the Rock Springs Grazing Assn. (livestock).

        Fencing alternate square miles of land would indeed be a nightmare. This is a vestige of the railroad era which divided up land for sale and land for free to the RR to encourage westward expansion from the east coast. The logical modern day approach would be to aggregate areas into larger blocks that make sense for various stakeholders, but this is complicated as well due to public interest in open range, mineral deposits the BLM must manage, some areas of state lands, multiple pipeline and utility easements already in place, and not to mention the relative scarcity of water. Managing larger blocks which are wild horse-free and livestock free to separate the conflicting interests would still seem the best option though, even if some were relocated to other areas. Wild horses for instance, could be repatriated into former horse areas that have been zero’d out the past 50 years, nor is it out of the question entirely new areas could be designated for them to survive and thrive. Wild Horse National Park anyone?

        Truth in labeling origin of meats in our groceries might help consumers decide which grazing practices to support, but these are also often opposed, and since most of the sheep meat and products produced in the USA are exported that wouldn’t make much difference.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Repatriating to zero-out HMAs certainly sounds like a good idea. The whole thing is a disaster. Especially now for these wild horses. Saw WHEs pictures of 13 stallions being “released”. As Laura posted – memories of war horses! Doesnt sound like there are many of the big so-called advocacy groups onsite at these roundups. The pictures of trailer loads of Wild Horses being hauled off away from their homes are so dam depressing. Its so wrong. I did copy & paste Mr. Eisenhauer’s comment to one of my Senators – I’m sure I’ll get a reply but its only going to list how caring he is about animal causes & likely praising the BLM – no matter how many times I write. I just thought if any of his staff does actually read my email – maybe???

        Liked by 2 people


    LEGAL DECLARATION filed by former BLM Rock Springs and Rawlins area manager, Lloyd Eisenhauer:


    Rock Springs Grazing Association, Case No. 2:11-cv-00263-NDF Plaintiff, v. Ken Salazar, et al.,Defendants,


    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 awardfrom 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. 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 be devastating 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 trueand correct.

    Lloyd Eisenhauer

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Oh, please do a fully independent investigation in to the BLM…. I swear this Dept are being funded or bribed by the cattleman and anti horse groups to annihilate the Mustang Icon from this planet. They are an evil groups of animal haters especially horses, wolves and any of the big cat family. They have done so much to change the true nature of the country that all Americans are suffering for now. Fires, floods, deforestation, and fouled water the list keeps growing.

    Liked by 2 people

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