by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) changed the Seaman and White River wild horse Herd Management Areas into Herd Areas in 2008. Now, this proposed BLM Environmental Assessment (EA) is a 10 year plan for the BLM to “zero out” (remove ALL wild horses and leave “0” as the population) the Seaman and White River Herd Areas in Nevada.
Please be sure to send your personal comments to the BLM about their plans to remove the last, remaining wild horses from these two Herd Areas. (DO NOT JUST SIGN A FORM LETTER PROPOSED BY ANY ADVOCACY GROUP.) Write comments in your own words and email, mail or fax them to the BLM.
Comment submissions will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. All comments received during the public comment period will be fully considered and evaluated for preparation of the Final PEA.
Questions and written comments should be directed to: Bureau of Land Management, Ely District Office, Attention: Ruth Thompson, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist
702 N. Industrial Way, Ely, NV 89301
Comments can also be submitted electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email messages should include “Seaman-White River Herd Areas Wild Horse Gather” in the subject line.
You can read the Environmental Assessment HERE.
At a quick glance, some of the many things that chap me about this plan are:
1) The BLM is removing the last 42 wild horses and foals from the Seaman HA, and the last 323 wild horses and foals from the White River HA (ALL WILD HORSES FOREVER) while:
still allowing the Blue Diamond Oil Corporation (Gary Sprouse, Pres.) to graze 5,590 sheep and 76 cattle for 5 months and 10 days each year (11/1 – 4/10) on the Fox Mountain allotment (100% public land),
still allowing Double U Livestock to graze 1,269 sheep for 6 1/2 months each year and 210 cattle for 5 months each year on the Needles allotment, and another 724 sheep for 5 months each year and 147 cattle for 4 months each year on the Dry Farm allotment.
still allowing Carter Cattle Co. to graze 650 cattle for 8 months each year on the North Cove allotment and another 650 cattle to graze for 8 months each year on the Wells-Dee Gee allotment.
still allowing 635 cattle to graze for 5 1/2 months each year on the Hardy Springs allotment, on 100% public lands.
still allowing 1,517 sheep to graze for 4 1/2 months each year on the South Coal Valley allotment
still allowing 226 cattle to graze for 10 months each year on the Forest Moon allotment.
(REMEMBER, the BLM counts a cow/calf pair as only 1 animal, so all of the numbers above will likely double):
There are many other allotments listed on page 36 of the EA. On this page, the BLM omitted informing the public of the number of “public acres” on each of the allotments – many of the allotments are on 100% public acres.
2) The BLM refuses to consider reducing livestock grazing on the Herd Areas. In section 2.4.5 of this EA:
“2.4.5 Remove or Reduce Livestock within the Seaman and White River HA
This alternative would involve no removal of wild horses and would instead address the excess wild horse numbers through the removal of livestock or reductions in livestock grazing allocations within the Seaman and White River HA. This alternative was not brought forward for analysis because it would be inconsistent with the current land use plan. This gather document and subsequent Decision Record is not the appropriate mechanism for adjusting the authorized livestock use within the allotments associated with the Herd Areas in order to reallocate forage to wild horses.”
3) The BLM once again mixes apples and oranges: while the BLM states the estimated number of wild horses and foals on the Herd Areas, the BLM only describes livestock (privately owned cattle and sheep) by AUMs, the amount of forage the livestock eat per month (Animal Unit Month). This makes it more difficult for the general public to actually figure out the number of privately owned livestock grazing on public land, compared to the number of wild horses on public land.
4) The BLM cites its authorization to zero out (remove all) wild horses as the Ely District 2008 Resource Management Plan (RMP). The Record of Decision was signed by John Ruhs, who was then the BLM’s Ely District Manager (and who is now BLM’s Nevada State Director), and Ron Wenker, who was then the BLM’s Nevada State Director (and who was arrested in 2012 for sexually abusing a girl – a relative – from the time she was 8 years old until she was 13 years old, when he was finally caught by the girl’s brother. In May, 2013, Wenker was sentenced to three life terms after pleading guilty to Sexual Assault and Lewdness with a Minor Under the Age of 14. He will be eligible for parole in 2043.) In my opinion, all decisions signed by Ron Wenker on behalf of the BLM should be reviewed and revised.
Five parties filed protests to this 2008 RMP: Cindy MacDonald (a great wild horse & burro advocate and researcher. Be sure to see the blog she still maintains at American Herds), longtime wild horse & burro advocate Craig Downer, Center for Biological Diversity, Clay Iverson and Western Watersheds. However, the BLM determined that only two of these parties “had standing” as defined in the BLM Land Use Planning Handbook (H-1601-1).
On pages 3 & 4 of this EA, the BLM states “The Ely District Record of Decision (ROD) and Approved Resource Management Plan (RMP) (August 2008) at Management Action WH – 5, which states: “Remove wild horses and drop herd management area status for those … as listed in Table 13.” Seaman and White River were reverted from Herd Management Area (HMA) to Herd Area (HA) status with this management action and identified the need to have all excess wild horses from these HAs (manage “0” wild horses).
The management action of achieving 0 wild horses within the Seaman HA as well as White River HA result of a management evaluation using multi-tiered analysis from the Ely Proposed Resource Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement (November 2007) table 3.8 – 2 and page 4.8 – 2. The EIS (November 2007) evaluated each HMA within the Ely District for five essential habitat components and herd characteristics: forage, water, cover, space, and reproductive viability. If one or more of these components were missing, or there was no potential for a stable shared genetic pool, the HMA was considered unsuitable. The Seaman HA as well as White River HA have inadequate forage, marginal to very little water on public lands, and inadequate reproductive viability. The combined Seaman HA also has no summer habitat and inadequate cover.”
So, the BLM admits that it has failed to maintain a “thriving natural ecological balance.”
You can read this 2008 RMP HERE.
5) On Page 16, the BLM also states: “While the BLM is authorized to remove livestock from HAs “if necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury” (43 CFR§ 4710.5), this authority is usually applied in cases of emergency and not for general management of wild horses since it cannot be applied in a manner that would be inconsistent with the existing land use plans. (43 CFR § 4710.1)”
It is an EMERGENCY if the BLM needs to remove an entire species from an area because there is not enough forage, water or habitat.
6) Everyone should ask the BLM to provide the Land Health Status for each of the allotments listed on page 36 of this EA.
7) The BLM is planning to completely REMOVE these wild horses from these public lands FOREVER. Note that the BLM is not attempting to relocate these horses to other Herd Management Areas or Herd Areas.
8) Since the BLM complains about the cost of wild horses & burros in BLM holding facilities, and has a poor record of adoptions (many horses have been sold to slaughter), the BLM should leave these wild horses on public lands, where they can live and graze at no cost to American taxpayers.