This Land Is No Longer Your Land

Source:  Bloomberg

The fight over preserving public land during the Trump era is taking a strange, angry twist in Montana’s Crazy Mountains. Both sides are armed.

In Park County, Mont., North Fork of Horse Creek Road with a “No Forest Service Access” sign.  Photographer: THOMAS PRIOR FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

by Monte Reel, Bloomberg

Brad Wilson is following a forest trail and scanning the dusky spaces between the fir trees for signs of movement. The black handle of a .44 Magnum juts prominently from his pack. If he stumbles on a startled bear at close range, the retired sheriff’s deputy wants to know the gun is within quick reach, in case something stronger than pepper spray is needed. Wilson isn’t the type who likes to take chances; he’s the type who plans ahead.

Before setting foot on this path, he unfolded a huge U.S. Forest Service map and reviewed the route, Trail 267. He put a finger at the trailhead, which was next to a ranger’s station, then traced its meandering path into the Crazy Mountains, a chain in south-central Montana that’s part of the northern Rockies. Like many of the trails and roads that lead into U.S. Forest Service land, Trail 267 twists in and out of private properties. These sorts of paths have been used as access points for decades, but “No Trespassing” signs are popping up on them with increasing frequency, along with visitors’ logs in which hikers, hunters, and Forest Service workers are instructed to sign their names, tacitly acknowledging that the trail is private and that permission for its use was granted at the private landowners’ discretion.

Wilson hates the signs and the logbooks, interpreting them as underhanded attempts by a handful of ranchers to dictate who gets to enter federal property adjacent to their own. Several of the owners operate commercial hunting businesses or rental cabins; by controlling the points of ingress to public wilderness, Wilson says, they could effectively turn tens of thousands of acres of federal land into extensions of their own ranches. That would allow them to charge thousands of dollars per day for exclusive access, while turning away anyone—hikers, anglers, bikers, hunters, locals like Wilson, or even forest rangers—who didn’t strike a deal.

Wilson, 63, is out on the trail to show me how the paths weave through private plots before reaching a destination he loves, and to show me why he loves it: The pebbled trout streams are crystalline, the elk run rampant, and painterly snowcaps break the big sky. The ranches along the way are pretty great, too, the kind of real estate that inspires—and, if acquired, perhaps even satisfies—the hunger a lot of people feel for scenic refuge. Many of the landholders are newcomers from out of state, though some old-timers remain—families that earned their deeds generations ago, the principal paid by ancestors who shivered through pitiless winters in tar-paper shacks. Wilson has been hiking and hunting the Crazies since he was a little kid, but only in the past year or so, he says, have the private ranchers seemed more like obstacles than neighbors. “They could shut down pretty much the whole interior of the Crazy Mountains, as far as I can see,” he says.    Read the rest of this article HERE.

House Committee Chairman Attacks Reporter for Doing His Job

By Greg Zimmerman as published on Medium’s Westwise

Rep. Rob Bishop goes after Washington Post’s accurate account of Bishop’s legislative agenda

Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has made no secrets about his disdain for America’s foundational conservation laws.

On the Endangered Species Act: “I would be happy to invalidate [it].”

On the Antiquities Act: “It is the most evil act ever invented.”

On the Land and Water Conservation Fund: it is a “slush fund” and we should instead “plow some money back into [the oil and gas industry] to make sure that it’s there.”

(See the bottom of this post for for a summary of each law and its importance to American conservation.)

Even though these positions are extremely unpopular with voters across the West and the American public, Congressman Bishop has built his political career proudly working to undermine national public lands and weakening or invalidating a slew of environmental laws.

That’s why it was so bizarre when the House Natural Resources Committee personally attacked a Washington Post reporter for simply writing a story about Rep. Bishop’s agenda. Darryl Fears, a reporter with more than three decades in the news business, published a piece about the congressman’s work on the Endangered Species Act. The article is summarized by the story’s headline:

Fears is reporting on the five pieces of legislation (HR 717, HR 3131, HR 1274, HR 2603, HR 424) that Rep. Bishop has moved through his committee to accomplish the stated goal of defanging and, ultimately, “invalidating” the Endangered Species Act.

Rather than owning his agenda, Rep. Bishop and his staff at the House Natural Resources Committee decided to attack Fears and his reporting. In its weekly email blast — The Source — the committee doesn’t dispute the accuracy of Fears’ story, but nonetheless accuses him of “fervently [swallowing] the tired shticks of the radical Left.”…(CONTINUED)

View story at Medium.com

Livestock grazing extremists obscure real-world solutions

by Debbie Coffey

In my opinion…

We need to find a fix for the unhealthy populations of non-native, domestic cattle and sheep on public lands.

Imagine a proposal to introduce privately owned livestock onto the public lands of the American West.  The owners of the privately owned livestock would successfully gain use of 229 million acres of public lands in the West.   The livestock would be owned by a politically powerful industry that attracted a passionate following — people who love using public lands for their private profit so much that they influence the federal management of their privately owned animals so that they would rarely, if ever, be restricted by law.  Some of them would be so passionate that they would take over and occupy government buildings for 41 days, and end up costing taxpayers at least $9 million, including $2.3 million on federal law enforcement and $1.7 million to replace damaged or stolen property.

The downside of these privately owned livestock would be that they destroy native vegetation, damage soils and stream banks, and contaminate waterways with fecal waste.  After decades of livestock grazing, once-lush streams and riparian forests have been reduced to flat, dry wastelands; once-rich topsoil has been turned to dust, causing soil erosion, stream sedimentation and wholesale elimination of some aquatic habitats; overgrazing of native fire-carrying grasses has starved some western forests of fire, making them overly dense and prone to unnaturally severe fires.  Not to mention that predators like the grizzly and Mexican gray wolf were driven extinct in southwestern ecosystems by “predator control” programs designed to protect the livestock industry.

Livestock grazing of privately owned livestock on public lands is promoted, protected and subsidized by federal agencies.  A new analysis  finds U.S. taxpayers have lost more than $1 billion over the past decade on a program that allows cows and sheep to graze on public land.  Last year alone taxpayers lost $125 million in grazing subsidies on federal land.  Had the federal government charged fees similar to grazing rates on non-irrigated private land, the program would have made $261 million a year on average rather than operate at a staggering loss, the analysis finds.

Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands

Just imagine what would happen if this livestock industry continued to thrive while all other natural resources were exhausted and while wildlife starved, died of thirst or became extinct.

Clearly, this is a difficult scenario to support.  Congress needs to overhaul the outdated livestock grazing program and reign in the use of livestock grazing on public lands.  These “welfare ranchers” treat public lands as if they are their own private lands and don’t want to share public lands with wildlife (unless that wildlife can be hunted).  The Bureau of Land Management is supposed to to “maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple use relationship” but it heavily favors the livestock grazing industry, even though livestock grazing has damaged 80 percent of the streams and riparian ecosystems in the West.

There are currently very powerful lobbying efforts using misinformation to convince Congress to “euthanize” (kill) or sterilize over 46,000 wild horses and burros in BLM holding facilities, and tens of thousands more on public lands.  But what about the millions of privately owned cattle and sheep on public lands?

There was recently a secretive meeting (closed to the public) in Salt Lake City, Utah, called the National Wild Horse & Burro Summit.  The only groups invited were special interest groups that promote livestock grazing, and academia/universities who rely on money from these special interest groups and government agencies who favor these special interest groups.  The Summit focused on the supposed damage done by wild horses and burros on public lands, while ignoring the real source of the widespread and well documented damage to water and rangeland ecosystems:  domestically owned livestock.   Since they talked about killing our wild horses and burros, this conference was aptly dubbed the “Slaughter Summit.”

Cattle slurping up water in the West (photo: EPA)

Go to the websites of the livestock industry, and you’ll notice that there’s no mention that millions of domestically owned livestock graze on public lands and overgraze or harm wildlife species.  There is no mention that cattle and sheep are not native to North America, since they arrived on Spanish and English ships about 500 years ago.

These extremists try to justify their interests by claiming they grow food, but only 3% of beef grown in the U.S. is grazed on public lands.  Most privately owned livestock graze on privately owned land.

The wild horse & burro population estimates used by these special interest groups are compiled by the BLM and have been found to be scientifically impossible, since the BLM, per its own population estimates, has claimed some wild horse herds increased by as much as 750% or 1250% in only one year.

Fringe “cowboys” have been effective at lobbying for the slaughter of old, unadoptable – or really any – horses.  The BLM has taken away over 22 million acres from Herd Areas, which were supposed to be the federally protected areas for wild horses and burros, and allows livestock grazing on most of the remaining, smaller Herd Management Areas (in addition to millions of other acres on public lands).

It’s easy for people in the other 40 states to be swayed by the livestock grazing extremists.  They look like real cowboys.  But many “ranchers” are large corporations.  Their efforts are responsible for the current situation, in which taxpayers support their private businesses of grazing millions of privately owned livestock on public lands, leaving us with no end in sight, not in numbers, not in funding, not in ecological damage.  What is a real-world solution?

Along with Wanting to Slaughter America’s Wild Horses and Burros, Ryan Zinke is Erasing ‘Public’ from Lands He’s Meant to Guard

as published in The Seattle Times

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s actions show his priority is to fossil-fuels companies and whether they will be able to profitably access the public lands they’ve long relied on for cheap natural resources.

‘Dinky’ Zinke, “I’ve had a hankering to slaughter those wild horses and burros for years. Just check my past record, it speaks for itself you turkeys.”

Shortly after taking office in March, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared his department would work on increasing access to America’s public lands. This sounded laudable — of course it should be easier for Americans to visit and enjoy our forests, mountains, deserts and rivers. But there was a catch: Secretary Zinke wasn’t really interested in making it easier for families to visit our public lands, only in greasing the skids for the industries that exploit those same lands.

Last week the National Park Service announced it intends to raise the entrance fees at the 17 most popular national parks to $70 per vehicle starting next year. This would almost triple the entry fee to Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks, the two parks in our state that would be impacted. The price of a weeklong entry pass for a noncommercial vehicle would go up to an astounding $70 under the proposal, from the current $25.

This proposal, if implemented, will be a de facto barrier to entry for many of us wishing to visit some of the country’s grandest landscapes. National Parks visitation already skews whiter and older than the general population. The Interior Department has acknowledged this must change if our national park system is to remain relevant. But raising entrance fees by 180 percent will only further skew the demographics of park visitation.

Two other moves by Zinke show he is worried whether fossil fuels companies will be able to profitably access the public lands they’ve long relied on for cheap natural resources.

Back in March, Zinke rescinded the federal moratorium on coal leases on public land. The halt had no effect on existing coal leases or mining but prohibited the Interior Department from offering new leases. The moratorium had been put in place last year by Sally Jewell, the previous Interior Secretary under President Barack Obama, so that the department could evaluate coal’s impact on climate change (40 percent of U.S. coal comes from public lands).

Zinke, however, scoffed at the notion of a societal cost of carbon and claimed the moratorium was unnecessary. He quickly cleared this impediment to coal companies’ access to the resource under public lands.

Then, in August, he repealed an Obama administration rule that ended a scam coal, oil and gas companies had long relied on to make deceitfully small royalty payments to the federal treasury.

The rule put an end to the practice of these companies extracting natural resources from public lands, selling the resources to affiliated companies at artificially small markups, and then having the affiliates resell the materials at a substantially higher price. Royalties paid to the public were calculated on the low initial sales price to the affiliates rather than on the price of the resource on the open market.

After receiving “numerous comments from the regulated community,” Zinke repealed the rule. Fossil-fuels companies can once again shortchange the public out of its royalties.

What truly rankles about Zinke’s selective concern for public-lands access is that the additional revenues raised from jacking up park entrance fees would be more than lost by canceling the rule that had fixed the royalty scam. Interior estimates higher entrance fees would raise an additional $70 million, while Taxpayers for Common Sense has calculated lost annual revenue from reopening the royalty loophole at $75 million.

We can expect to see more examples of this one-sided concern for public lands access. Last month came reports that President Donald Trump will follow through on Zinke’s recommendation to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. Shrinking the monuments would open up additional public lands to fossil-fuels development while doing nothing to make those lands more accessible to the general public.

Be aware, when Zinke talks of improving public access to federal lands, he has an extremely narrow subset of the public in mind.

 What can we do? The good news is there’s still time for the public to fight back the proposed fee increase, as the National Park Service is taking comments until Nov. 23. More broadly, Congress needs to prohibit the Department of the Interior from giving special access to the fossil-fuels industries through rules that enable and encourage profiteering on our public lands.

Congress Targets our Wild Horses and Burros

Many thanks to Susan Wagner, Pres. of Equine Advocates, for writing this excellent OpEd for the New York Daily News.

SOURCE:  New York Daily News

photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

by Susan Wagner, Pres. of Equine Advocates

Special interests in the ranching, oil and gas and mining industries and the lawmakers who do their bidding have a nefarious but underreported agenda: to round up and destroy the wild horses and burros on America’s public lands.

This is not the first time they’ve tried, but this time, the stars are aligned in the worst way, and they just might succeed.

First, some quick history. Back in the 1950s, wild horses were at the brink of extinction. They had no federal protections. People known as Mustangers were chasing, rounding up and selling them for slaughter by the thousands. Anyone who has seen the classic 1961 Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe film “The Misfits” has a sense — albeit a sanitized, Hollywood sense — of this dirty work.

That changed when activist Velma Johnston, famously known as Wild Horse Annie, inspired the passage of the Wild Horse Annie Act in 1959, which provided some protection for these animals. That law was followed by even stronger legislation — the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. It expressly prohibited the hunting, capture, injury and disturbance of wild horses and burros.

Over the years, however, lawmakers have chipped away at this legislation, removing many of its vital protections. Tremendous damage was done by the 2004 Burns Amendment; it passed without so much as a hearing and permitted the sale of these animals for commercial purposes. Many ended up at slaughter.

The biggest threat to wild horses today is a group of ranchers — known as “welfare ranchers” — who use federal lands to graze their cattle. They have made it clear that they want the horses and burros gone. They believe they are entitled to the land and water rights for their livestock.

Though they style themselves as independent pioneers, these ranchers are given huge subsidies by the federal government, enabling them to lease our public lands for a pittance, while the wild horses and burros are rounded up and sent to holding facilities operated by the Bureau of Land Management, a division of the the Interior Department.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, this program has cost the American taxpayer more than $1 billion over the past decade and is “ruinous to the public lands and the wildlife that inhabit it.”

There is no doubt that our wild horses and burros can be managed humanely, but that is not what is going on. Nearly 50,000 healthy animals are now being held captive in Bureau of Land Management holding facilities. Many suffer and die horrible deaths during the roundups, which are cruel and unnecessary.

Making matters worse, a five-year investigation released in July by the Wild Horse Freedom Federation accuses the bureau of deliberately trying to deceive American taxpayers and members of Congress about the costs and consequences of their actions.  READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

 

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Mike Hudak’s video “Ranching’s Other Victims: Free-living animals”

The video below by Mike Hudak was done in 2010, but it still applies today and is worth watching.  We also recommend you go to mikehudak.com  and read his book, “Western Turf Wars.”

How much forage does the BLM allow livestock to eat on public lands vs. what they allow for our wild horses & burros?

Fax this to your Congressional Representatives:

SOURCE:  Animal Welfare Institute

“of the total number of livestock and wild horses and/or burros known or authorized to graze within HMAs and their associated grazing allotments, 1.8 percent are wild horses, 0.4 percent are wild burros and the remaining 97.8 percent are livestock.”

We encourage all people interested in public lands issues to be sure to read the Animal Welfare Institute report (2012) Overview of the Management of Wild Horses & Burros.  AWI presented this to the National Academy of Science.  Although this report was issued in 2012, the issues are all current.  This report gives an excellent overview of wild horse & burro issues and the mismanagement of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse & Burro Program.  We will be pulling out a few excerpts for some articles, since this report counters all of the false information by sources at the recent National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting, by the livestock grazing activists and in the media.

AUM is Animal Unit Month – The BLM has defined this as the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. (AML is Appropriate Management Level)

Pages 145-149 of this AWI report indicate the following:

 Figure National – 7

For the ten western states occupied by wild horses and/or burros, BLM data reveals that the total number of authorized AUMs for 2011… included actual AUM use of 8,297,403 for cattle, yearlings and domestic bison, 53,119 for domestic horses and burros, and 708,280 for domestic sheep and goats.  The 2011 estimated combined population size for wild horses and burros within HMAs was 33,805, while the combined high AML for wild horses and burros was 26,576.
 
These figures correspond to AUMs of 31,537 (for the estimated population) and 25,225 (based on combined high AML). Consequently, the number of AUMs for livestock within the ten western states in which wild horses and/or burros are found are 287 times the AUMs based on estimated wild horse and burro population size and 359 times the AUMs for wild horses and burros based on high AML.  It is worth noting that, in a number of instances, the permitted use AUMs designated by the BLM were well in excess of the active AUM level (amount of use that could be allowed); a discrepancy that could not be explained by a BLM official.
Figure National -8
According to the BLMs Rangeland Administration database (accessed in September 2012), a total of 4,565,208 livestock (i.e., cattle and yearlings, domestic bison, domestic sheep, domestic horses and burros, and goats) have be en grazed on the estimated 669
allotments found entirely or partially within HMA boundaries within the past BLM billing cycle. This equates to 4,286,252 permitted use AUMs. When adjusted to compensate for the percentage of each allotment found within or outside of HMA boundaries, the total number of stock grazed is 1,302,259, which correlates to 1,626,450 seasonal/annual permitted use AUMs. When compared to the combined high AML for wild horses and burros for 2012, which corresponds to 299,562 annual AUM s, total livestock AUMs on HMAs is 5.4 times higher than the AUMs for wild horses and burros.
 
This is only an estimate since livestock use is not consistent across an allotment. This is because the animals tend to utilize those portions of an allotment that are most suitable in regard to water, forage, shelter, and other requirements. For the purpose of this analysis, the number of AUMs and individual livestock obtained from various BLM data sets was multiplied by the percentage of the allotment found within each HMA. Due to the lack of equal distribution of livestock a cross an allotment, these figures may under-or over-estimate actual use.
Livestock authorization and stocking rates are not static, but frequently change over time as a consequence of rangeland condition, economics, environmental factors (such as prolonged drought), changes to allotment permit conditions, changes in the type of
livestock grazed, and other factors. For the ten states that harbor wild horses and burros, livestock AUMs are highly variable. For example, based on BLM data, total livestock AUMs were 9,708,638 in 1996, declining to 9,058,802 in 2011.
In sum, based on the BLM data referenced above, 1,302,259 livestock are authorized to graze within HMAs occupied by an
estimated 24,264 wild horses and 5,017 wild burros as of February 2012. Therefore, of the total number of livestock and wild horses and/or burros known or authorized to graze within HMAs and their associated grazing allotments, 1.8 percent are wild horses, 0.4 percent are wild burros and the remaining 97.8 percent are livestock. At the state, individual HMA, or HMA complex level, these
statistics differ. Regardless of the geographic scale of the analysis, however, the number of livestock grazing on HMAs is far in
excess of the number of wild horses and/or burros.

Feel Good Sunday: Dewey Bunnell of “America” speaks out for wild horses

Each and every person can make a difference.   Each and every one of you are the voices for the wild horses and burros.  Stay strong.

This video, produced by Dewey Bunnell of the classic rock band “America” was shared by our friend Jetara Sehart, of Love Wild Horses

Controversial Wild Horse Stampede Concluded

Source:

““This is illegal, and will most likely bring the number of wild horses remaining below the low appropriate management level in each of these three herd management areas…”

ROCK SPRINGS — The Bureau of Land Management finished gathering wild horses from three herd management areas Tuesday, a week after it was briefly halted.

The roundup was stopped last week amid a legal dispute over whether the BLM should count foals in its roundup. There were concerns that the rate of the roundup would surpass the previously stated goal of 1,560 horses, the Associated Press reported.

The issue came to light not through the BLM’s public decision-making process but only when government officials told horse advocates how they were counting the horses, the lawsuit claimed. Not counting foals deviates from past BLM practice, said William Eubanks, an attorney for the wild horse advocates.

A total of 408 dependent foals were removed with their mares and are counted in addition to the 1,560 wild horses, BLM Public Affairs Specialist Tony Brown told the Rocket-Miner. This brings the total of wild horses collected to 1,968.

Wild Horse Freedom Federation Director of Field Documentation Carol Walker said she was concerned about additional horses being rounded up.

Instead of only removing 1,560 horses, which the BLM had deemed as excess during its National Environmental Policy Act documentation and Environmental Assessment, it removed an additional 408 wild horses, she said in an email.

“This is illegal, and will most likely bring the number of wild horses remaining below the low appropriate management level in each of these three herd management areas,” she said. “This is why we brought the lawsuit.”

http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com/news/wyoming/article_437649fe-a920-5575-8824-e0b08d91e061.html

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Brutal Outlook for Healthy Wild Horses and Burros: BLM Calls for Shooting 90,000

By Return to Freedom

“There needs to be a fairer distribution of resources—not more biased reports and recommendations aimed at capturing, removing or killing wild horses…”

On Thursday, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recklessly voted to approve recommendations that call on the Bureau of Land Management to shoot tens of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros.

At its meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado, the advisory board recommended that BLM achieve its on-range population goal of 26,715 wild horses and burros while also phasing out the use of long-term holding facilities—both within three years.

If Congress allowed BLM to follow through on the independent board’s recommendations, that would mean the government shooting at least 90,000 healthy animals. The advisory board has no power to control policy.

The board also called for allowing international adoptions and sales, which have not been allowed before. During its deliberations, the board repeatedly referenced a proposal made by a private party to have American taxpayers pay to ship upwards of 20,000 wild horses to Russia—where they would serve as prey animals for big cats.

“Killing tens of thousands of wild horses and burros would be a betrayal of millions of taxpayers who want wild horses protected as intended in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and who have invested tens of millions of dollars in their care,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation.

“BLM has been tasked by Congress with the responsibility of protecting wild horses. The agency has failed over and over, wasting time on think tanks, challenge concepts and meetings that go nowhere instead of directing resources toward actually managing land, water and habitat on the range and building a robust volunteer effort to help with critical projects benefiting wild horses and other wildlife.”

BLM has been close to its Appropriate Management Level before, but the agency balked at using fertility control despite ample evidence that it was safe and effective. The number of wild horses on the range stood within 1,071 animals of BLM’s own population goal in 2007, yet even then the agency chose not to aggressively implement fertility control.

In fact, BLM has never spent as much as four percent of its Wild Horse & Burro Program budget on this safe, proven and humane solution for wild horse population control; instead, it spends upwards of 65 percent of its annual budget capturing, removing and warehousing animals.

Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary was among the first of many projects to use fertility control with great success. It has used the vaccine PZP for 19 years with an efficacy rate of 91 to 98 percent.

Meanwhile, wild horses continue to be dramatically outnumbered on federal land by privately owned livestock, which graze there at a fraction of the cost that ranchers would pay on private property.

“A balance must be struck between ranching and mining interests and wild horses and other wildlife as part of a fair interpretation of BLM’s multiple-use mandate on the range,” said DeMayo. “There needs to be a fairer distribution of resources—not more biased reports and recommendations aimed at capturing, removing or killing wild horses.

“BLM and the U.S. Department of the Interior must stop catering to those who profit from public lands and manage them for all Americans. It is time to stop treating America’s wild horses and burros like an unwanted invasive species and start becoming real stewards by using the safe, proven and humane tools available, in keeping with the spirit of the Act and the will of the public.”

Polls have repeatedly shown that about 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter and a similar percentage want to see wild horses protected.

A March 1 BLM estimate—made before this year’s foal crop—placed the on-range population of wild horses and burros at 72,674. As of August, the agency reported that 44,640 captured wild horses and burros were living in off-range facilities, including 32,146 on leased pastures referred to as long-term holding.

On Thursday, wild horse advocate Ginger Kathrens of the Cloud Foundation was the lone dissenting vote on recommendations that BLM achieve “Appropriate Management Level” of 26,715 in three years, close long-term holding in three years, and allow international sales and adoptions. She joined the others on the board in voting to recommend that BLM increase its funding of reversible fertility control to $3 million by fiscal year 2019, up from about $100,000 in 2017.

Kathrens noted that BLM’s arbitrarily set Appropriate Management Level is only about 1,000 wild horses and burros more than the estimated population at the time of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was signed. The law—which Congress passed unanimously—stated that wild horses and burros were “fast disappearing from the American scene.”

The advisory board’s recommendation would have BLM spend money saved on long-term holding on on-range management and increasing adoptions. Those adoptions would likely spare only a fraction of wild horses on the range or in holding from death. In 2017, BLM has adopted out only about 4,200 wild horses—its best total in years.

In September 2016, the advisory board voted to recommend destroying captive wild horses and removing all restrictions to their sale, which would allow buyers to purchase them on the cheap and transport them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Again, Kathrens was the lone “no” vote.

In July, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that removed language that would bar BLM from killing healthy wild horses. The Senate Appropriations Committee could vote on its version of the Interior bill as soon as next week.

“It will take time, commitment and diligence—and a real plan—but we have science that clearly shows the path to a sustainable future for wild horses and burros,” DeMayo said. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but it must be done and it must start now. The American people need to rally and urge Congress to force BLM to humanely manage these iconic, federally protected animals on the range.”