BLM seeks public comment of Environmental Analysis for Wild Horse Gather in Southeastern Utah

News Release

Utah State Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 20, 2018

Media Contact: Lisa Reid  (435) 743-3128

BLM seeks public comment of Environmental Analysis for Wild Horse Gather in Southeastern Utah

Price, Utah—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Price Field Office is seeking public comment on an environmental assessment (EA) analyzing a proposed wild horse gather, removal and fertility treatment in the Muddy Creek Herd Management Area (HMA).

The Muddy Creek HMA is located in Emery County, approximately 20 miles south of Ferron, Utah, in the San Rafael Swell. It consists of approximately 283,400 acres of public and state lands.

The EA analyzes a proposal to gather and remove excess wild horses and apply fertility control between two and four times over a ten-year period. The EA, including maps, is available on ePlanning at: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front- office/eplanning/nepa/nepa_register.do; search for project name “Muddy.”

Written comments will be accepted by letter or e-mail until May 20, 2018. Special attention will be given to those comments that contain new technical or scientific information relevant to the proposed action. Comments should be as specific as possible. Comments that contain only opinions or preferences will not receive a formal response but may be considered in the BLM decision-making process. Please reference “Muddy Creek Wild Horse Gather Plan EA” when submitting comments.

Written comments may be mailed or e-mailed using the following:

Mail
BLM Price Field Office
Attn: Price Field Office Manager
125 S. 600 W. Price, UT 84501

E-mail
blm_ut_pr_whb@blm.gov

Those who provide comments are advised that before including their address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information, they should be aware that the entire comment – including the personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While those commenting can ask in their comments to withhold personal identifying information from public review, the BLM cannot guarantee that they will be able to do so.

For additional EA-specific information, please contact Mike Tweddell at (435) 636- 3600. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message or question with the above individual. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Replies are provided during normal business hours.

-BLM-

Follow us on Twitter @BLMUtah

Congress demands wild horse and burro plan from BLM

By Charlie Booher as published on Wildlife.org

“The status quo still isn’t working for our wild horses and burros, the ecology on the range, or the American taxpayers”

BLM attacking wild horses – photo by Carol Walker

When Congress passed the omnibus appropriations bill last month, legislators included a mandate for the Bureau of Land Management to provide a new wild horse and burro management plan. The mandate was joined by a $5.55 million cut to the program.

The statements accompanying the appropriations bill for 2019 said the House and Senate committees that oversee the Interior Department, including the BLM, were “extremely disappointed” in the agency’s failure to produce a comprehensive plan that was originally requested in the FY17 spending package. Legislators said they wanted a plan “to address the fast-rising costs of the Wild Horse and Burro program and overpopulation of wild horses and burros on the range,” and asserted that continued “failure to address these problems is irresponsible and will result in irreparable damage to the landscape and the welfare of the animals protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act” of 1971.

Congress requested a plan from the BLM that:

  1. reduces the complexity and cost of contracting policies and procedures;
  2. eliminates unnecessary environmental reviews;
  3. simplifies and expands the use of partnerships and cooperative agreements;
  4. identifies statutory and regulatory barriers to implementing the plan; and
  5. has the goal of reducing costs while improving the health and welfare of wild horses and burros, and the range.

The statement directs the BLM to provide the plan within 30 days of enactment of the act, but it is still unclear if the deadline will be met. Until the BLM provides a comprehensive plan and corresponding legislative proposals, legislators said the appropriations committees will “maintain the existing prohibitions and reduce the resources available for the program.”

The BLM is working on the “final stages of developing a plan to Congress” describing “several management options aimed at putting the Wild Horse and Burro Program back on a sustainable and fiscally responsible track,” Amber Cargile, BLM’s acting national spokeswoman, told E&E News.

This strong statement expresses Congress’ continued frustration with the growth of wild horse and burro populations, the cost of sustaining current management practices and the political challenges facing the program. The administration’s recent budget proposals have also expressed a need for policy and management changes.

The House Appropriations Committee made changes to wild horse and burro management in its FY18 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill in an attempt to improve the program’s outcomes, but this bill never made it to the Senate.\

“The status quo still isn’t working for our wild horses and burros, the ecology on the range, or the American taxpayers” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-California, chairman of the House appropriations subpanel on interior department spending told the Associated Press.

As of March 2017, the BLM estimated more than 73,000 wild horses and burros existed across 27 million acres of federal herd management areas in 10 western states. More than 45,000 additional horses and burros are held in off-range corrals and pastures. This is 90,000 more animals than the agency’s established population objective, known as the Appropriate Management Level, of less than 27,000. AML is set in land use management plans based on the health of the rangelands, and in balance with other uses on the range including wildlife and livestock grazing. When populations exceed this level, the ecologically feral species negatively impact the rangelands.

In 2016, The Wildlife Society testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing, expressing the need for more active management of wild horse and burro populations. The National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board has also expressed frustrations with the program and made strong recommendations to change the current management paradigm at its previous meetings.

http://wildlife.org/congress-demands-wild-horse-and-burro-plan-from-blm/

US Court Overturns Round-Up of Wild Horses in Oregon

as published on USNews.com

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated environmental law by conducting an emergency round-up of wild horses in eastern Oregon because the agency did not fully consider the impact of its actions.

Steens HMA wild horse family ~ photo by R.T. Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management violated environmental law by rounding up wild horses in eastern Oregon without fully considering the impact of its actions, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon’s ruling could mean that some of the horses will be returned to the Three Fingers Management Area in Malheur County, the Capital Press reported. The judge is expected to rule separately on what to do in light of the violation.

The nonprofit group Friends of Animals sued after the BLM gathered up the horses following a 2016 wildfire that made water and forage scarce. The agency had planned to gather up 50 horses before the blaze, but instead decided to do an “emergency gather” of 150 horses because the fire had burned up so much available grassland and made water scarce.

Friends of Animals alleged the emergency action “went far beyond what was necessary to control the immediate impacts” of the fire without a proper review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.

Instead of permanently removing the horses, BLM could have relocated the horses, used fencing to keep them out of fire-damaged areas or provided extra water sources, the group argued.

The BLM should have conducted a new analysis of the environmental impact after the fire and not relied on its earlier analysis, Simon said.

Lucinda Bach, attorney for the government in this case, said she couldn’t comment on the ruling.

Capital Press was unable to reach an attorney from Friends of Animals for comment.

Is the Government Destroying the American West Ecosystem by Favoring Cattle Over Wild Horses?

by as published on OneGreenPlanet.org

“Wild horses play a crucial role in keeping the ecosystem of the west balanced…”

Welfare Cattle herded into Antelope Complex as wild horses are being rounded up ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation


Imagine walking through a trail alongside the golden grasses of an open prairie in the Western United States when all of the sudden you are stopped frozen by the sound of a thunderous noise of hooves approaching from a distance. As you listen closely, you hear whinnying and soon, the herd is within your sight. With their power, grace, and majesty, horses can aesthetically make any landscape appear beautiful.

But horses also have a much greater purpose, as they help to physically maintain and benefit the health of prairie ecosystems. Millions of horses once roamed free in the Wild West. Unfortunately, by the time the first federal wild free-roaming horse protection law was enacted in 1959, the mustang population had already been drastically reduced. This law only prohibited hunting horses with the help of motor vehicles.

While the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now the primary authority that manages wild horse populations. However, the BLM favors cattle interests over that of the wild horse which has lead to the steady decline of the wild horse population. Wild horses play a crucial role in keeping the ecosystem of the west balanced.

Managing Horse Populations to Benefit Cattle

In certain locations, natural horse predators, such as wolves, are now scarce and as a result, the BLM is “concerned” with regulating horse populations to avoid competition with land for domestic cattle. To manage the horses, the bureau issues roundups of wild horses to transfer them to a captive lifestyle. Their methods are often considered inhumane. For example, in 2014, the BLM poorly planned a roundup of approximately 800 horses from private and public lands. Ten died in the process, including four foals and the horses all experienced immense stress and discomfort (not to mention they lost one of the most valued ideals of America – freedom). Approximately 270,000 horses have been removed from U.S. land since 1971.

Furthermore, supply has exceeded demand for selling captured horses for an adoption fee of $125 and most horses end up at auction where they can be purchased for any use the buyer the wishes … sadly most of the time this means they are sold to slaughter for meat.

In order to validate their actions, the BLM has claimed that horses are overpopulating, while destroying critical habitat. Where is this evidence? Nobody knows … We do, however, have ecological evidence of how horses benefit their environment.

Horses Versus Cattle: Benefits of Horses for the Environment

While the BLM is concerned with avoiding grazing competition between wild horses and domestic cattle, there seems to be lack of attention toward addressing the impacts cattle are having on the environment. The ratio of cattle to wild horses on public lands is fifty to one. Wild horses are critical architects of the western ecosystem, so rather than wasting tax dollars funding roundups, if the BLM is really concerned with protecting public lands they should instead focus on protecting horses.

To illustrate the benefits of the presence of the wild horse, let’s look at comparison to how horses affect their ecosystem versus cattle.

1. Maintaining Grass 

While cattle do not have upper teeth and use their tongues to wrap around grass to pull it from the roots, horses only graze the tops of grass blades, allowing grasses to regrow in a healthier state.

2. Improving Soil Quality

Unlike cattle, horses are not ruminants and therefore, do not have four sections of their stomach. This means that their waste contains more nutrients. When horses defecate, they give back to the land through enhancing soil quality. Cattle operations often cause water pollution due to waste containing hormones, antibiotics, heavy metals, ammonia, and pathogens. Many animals depend on horse manure to help maintain soil moisture to prevent brush fires.

3. Use of Water Resources

While cattle enjoy chilling out by water sources, horses are respectful of their ecosystem. Instead of causing erosion and scaring away species diversity (like cattle do), horses tend to drink and move on, leaving minimal impact on stream habitats.

4. Grazing Habits

Since horses are travelers and cattle prefer to just hang out, horses do not exhaust grazing areas like cattle do. Horses are also picky about what they eat and avoid consuming pretty flowers, allowing wild flowers to survive. If a horse consumes seeds, they can still germinate after being passed and thus, horses act as important sources of dispersal for plant species.

5. Lending a Hand to Other Species

In cold climates, many animals will follow the path of horses in order to find access to food and water. The powerful hooves of a horse have the ability to break through ice, making streams once again potable for other animals. Furthermore, horses can make their way to grasses through deep snow, allowing other animals to also graze where horses have been.

Grazing cattle, on the other hand, pose a threat to 14 percent of endangered animal species and 33 percent of plant species as they encroach further into their territory.

Stop Roundups to Save Horses

Cattle are given priority over land because ranchers pay a tax to the BLM for every head of cattle they graze on public lands. The myth that the wild horse poses too much competition to cattle is a simple lie used to justify their systematic removal. It would not be far off to say that cows have become an invasive species in the West, leading to the downfall of keystone species who help to keep the native ecosystem healthy.

Wild-Horse Overpopulation Is a Lie

Letter to the Editor of Mesquite Local News

BLM’s Big Lie: The “overpopulation” of wild horses is a concocted “crisis”. The government doesn’t have a wild-horse problem — wild horses have a government problem.


Arbitrary management level (AML):  The maximum number of wild horses that BLM declares the Western range can sustain — 26,715 — is a political construct.  Per 49,349 square miles of wild-horse habitat, the upper bound of the AML establishes a maximum stocking density of 1 wild horse per 2 square miles!  However, BLM manages down to the low bound of the AML — 16,310.  That creates a stocking density of 1 wild horse per 3 square miles!

Sparsely populated, widely dispersed:  Many herds are restricted even more severely.  Here are stocking densities to which BLM restricts herds in Nevada.

1 wild horse per  3,102  acres  — 5    square miles  —  Antelope Complex

1 wild horse per  3,566  acres  — 5½ square miles  —  Triple B Complex

1 wild horse per  6,606  acres  — 10  square miles  —  Eagle herd

1 wild horse per  9,591  acres  — 15  square miles  —  Silver King herd

Contrast with livestock density:  BLM allows 1 cow-with-calf pair (or 5 sheep) per 76 acres, which means 8 cow-calf pairs (or 40 sheep) per square mile.  Further, within dedicated wild-horse habitats, livestock are awarded most of the grazing slots (AUMs).  Examples from Nevada:

94% of AUMs to livestock — Triple B Complex

96% of AUMs to livestock — Antelope Complex

Normative annual herd-growth = at most, 5%:  Gregg, LeBlanc, and Johnston (2014) found the average birth rate among wild-horse herds to be about 20%; but 50% of foals perish.  The population-gain from surviving foals (10%) minus a conservative estimate of adult-mortality (5%) equals a normative herd-growth rate of 5%.

Fraudulent figures on the range:  BLM’s herd-growth figures are falsified.  Repeatedly, we find BLM reporting one-year increases that are beyond what is biologically possible.  Some examples from Nevada:

260%  —     52 times the norm — Shawave Mountains

293%  —     59 times the norm — Diamond Hills South

418%  —     84 times the norm — Black Rock Range East *

*  BLM claimed the Black Rock Range East’s population grew from 88 horses to 456 horses in one year, an increase of 368.  If so, to overcome foal-mortality (50%) and adult-mortality (at least 5%), that would mean each filly and mare gave birth to 17 foals.

Fraudulent figures off the range:  A comprehensive report was recently issued following a 5-year investigation by Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  It revealed that BLM has been publishing fictitious figures regarding the number of wild horses removed from the range and now supposedly boarded in private pastures.  BLM is paying, but where are the horses?  http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/white-paper/

No to birth control, no to euthanasia, no to slaughter:  The population-explosion exists only on BLM’s falsified spreadsheets.

Marybeth  Devlin

Navajo Nation Cancels Plans for Wild Horse Hunt

story by Hannah Grover as published Daily Times

“The story below is presented unedited so you will see the word ‘feral’ used often.  I do not claim to possess abundant knowledge as to the origins of the horses on Navajo land, but I cringe when I hear that word applied to the wild horses on public lands as they are at the very least,  a reintroduced natural species (fodder for an OpEd, later).  So tighten up, you are about to enter Feral Land.” ~ R.T.


A controversial hunt was aimed at reducing the numbers of feral horses near Teec Nos Pos, Arizona

This Scenario Averted – for the time being

FARMINGTON —  A wild horse hunt aimed at thinning a herd in an Arizona trophy hunt area was abruptly cancelled on Monday as opposition to the hunt grew and a protest was planned.

The tribal government’s natural resource regulators last week issued a proclamation declaring the 2018 feral horse management hunt. It was designed to remove 60 horses from the Carrizo Mountains near Teec Nos Pos in northeast Arizona.

The Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources this afternoon rescinded the proclamation, according to a notice on the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.

President Russell Begaye said in an emailed statement that the hunt will be postponed and the proclamation was rescinded to allow for public input and education.

Protest was planned

Tens of thousands of feral horses roam Navajo Nation lands — and the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking ways to reduce that population.

Following the release of the hunt proclamation horse advocates, including members of the Facebook group Indigenous Horse Nation Protector Alliance, organized a rally for Friday morning in Window Rock, Arizona, to protest the hunt.

Gloria Tom, the director of Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the public outcry led to the cancellation.

Hunt should go before tribal  leadership

In an email statement, Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates said his office was not aware that the executive branch had made a decision to issue permits for hunting feral horses.

“As Navajo people, we are taught to respect all life forms and that includes horses,” Bates said. “Considering the cultural and historical factors and concerns over water shortages and overgrazing — this is certainly an issue that should have been brought before Navajo leadership and medicine people to discuss and consider.”

If the hunt had not been rescinded, hunters accompanied by wildlife conservation officers would have been able to kill non-branded horses that were at least two years old. Hunters would not have been permitted to kill mares that have foals with them.

Begaye said the Carrizo Mountains near Teec Nos Pos in northeast Arizona has been critically impacted by the feral horses. He said the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife’s proclamation specifically targeted the Carrizo Mountains.

The proclamation called for removing up to 60 horses over a six-day span from the Carrizo Mountains.

Tom said the Corrizo Mountains is one of the trophy hunt areas of the reservation. She said the department was concerned about the impacts of the horses on the habitat, especially about the impact on mule deer.

She said the severe drought in the region will increase competition for food and water.

“We’re looking at a very severe outlook for lack of precipitation through July this year,” she said.

Tom said the drought was one reason the department hoped to remove horses to reduce the stress on the landscape and wildlife…(CONTINUE)

http://www.daily-times.com/story/news/local/navajo-nation/2018/02/26/wild-horse-hunt-canceled-navajo-nation/374931002/

THE WORST PLAN EVER FOR WILD HORSE MANAGEMENT- CANCELED!

“We received this information from Elaine Nash last night” – R.T.

Earlier this month, the Navajo nation had announced a plan to sell hunting permits to 60 Navajo hunters, with the first hunt scheduled for March 27, 2018. As of today, due to the diligent work of wild horse advocates, that very bad plan to shoot 60 wild horses has been canceled.
.
There will probably be many new efforts launched to help the Navajo people with their wild horse management issue. Please support these efforts. Donate, participate, educate, adopt. This very close call definitely got the attention of the wild horse advocacy community. Now, let’s be sure that we do what we can to be sure it never happens again. It might not be canceled the next time.

(To be clear, Fleet of Angels nor I should be credited with this save. We did no more to stop this effort than any other organization that posted about it, shared information, and encouraged the public to make their displeasure known. As far as I know, the very loud collective public outcry heard ’round the world was as responsible for this change in direction as any one person or organization. If I learn that there was a key person or key organization that should be credited with this reversal in the Navajo nation’s plan, I will make that information known far and wide.)

Feel Good Sunday: Great Dane Befriends Rescued Wild Horses

“I hope that this video makes the start of your Sunday a happy and hopeful event. 

We are so very blessed to share this great Space Ship Earth with such loving and caring fellow passengers.  All of their lives are so special and unique. 

It is truly a Feel Good Sunday.” ~ R.T.


Wild horses: Are they being managed to extinction?

by as published on HorseTalk

a report by Wild Horse Freedom Federation suggested that figures regarding the number of wild horses removed from the range and now boarded in private pastures did not appear to add up.”

Photo by Carol Walker

What will we do when the wild horses are no more? And what impact might that have on all the interdependent species and ecosystems, as well as domestic horses breeds?

That is a question that must be addressed if wild horses continue to be removed from the ranges essentially based upon how they look. Some wild horses who may appear ‘ugly’ on the outside to some, but may carry key genes that could be critical to the long-term survival of the equine species.

Science does not have all the answers today, and any such meddling by humans may result in a genetic bottleneck.

As far as preserving the very best wild horses, no man can do the same job that is accomplished by the continuous process of natural selection inside a natural ecosystem. There are hundreds of stressors that affect wild horses in the true wilderness that strengthen their genetic lines and none of those involves people who think they know which horses are the best…(CONTINUED)

Read more at https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2018/02/24/wild-horses-managed-to-extinction/#0CBdWI2Kz8QJEEYr.99

Opinion: Pioneer Woman Sides with Wild Horse Slaughter Schemers

“In my humble Opinion” by R.T. Fitch

BLM Wild Horse Holder, Ree Drummond, Dances with the Devil

“Where’s the Beef?”

In response to Debbie Coffey’s article published on 2/12/2018 I would like to add that I was not the least bit surprised that Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) would be experiencing ‘the vapors’ over her little rodeo routine at the National Cattleman’s Beef Association convention earlier this year.

Why not?

She and her husband have made tens of millions of dollars off the backs of wild horses who have been ripped from their rightful range, their families smashed to pieces and what’s left of the gender segregated herds are farmed out to the likes of the Drummonds at great expense to the tax-payer while privately owned, federally subsidized cattle are put on the horses range.

Why not?

In my opinion Ree is a phony, Ree is greedy, Ree is a magnet for attention, and Ree doesn’t give a horse’s behind for the wild ones because if she did care about the horses, that are under her care, she would NOT be a part of or partake in any activity sponsored by one of the most pro-horse slaughter organizations in the United States.  But she did.

Ree admits that she is a fraud on her own blog and Facebook:

“Finally, I shared this on Facebook but wanted to share it here too: I did not grow up in the country.  I can’t saddle a horse.  For years I thought heifer and Hereford were the same word.  And last week I delivered the keynote address to the big, annual gathering of the National Cattlemen’s Association.” 

Yipppie, I am so cool.

Former Wild Horses feeding time at the Drummond Ranch ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

You don’t need to grow up or live in the country, you don’t need to know how to saddle a horse or even live with a pony in your backyard to know the difference between what is right and wrong for these creatures.  Predatory horse slaughter for human consumption does not take place in this country so why would she run and jump right into bed with an organization that wants to sell all the wild horses off to Canada or Mexico where they would be grotesquely murdered then eaten by foreigners?  Phony or just plain stupid?  Let the reader decide but anything that will make her look 20 minutes younger or have one more person ‘friend’ her on Facebook then I guess she is all in.

This speech was her chance to speak on behalf of the horses that she uses for her advertising and promotions and she did not make any effort to step up to the plate, she blew it and proved, once again, that the horses are nothing more than dollar signs and their future and well-being are of no consequence.

How do the Drummonds fit into the Wild Horse picture?

In layman’s terms:

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (signed unanimously by Congress with President Nixon’s sign-off) ensures that wild horses and burros can live out their lives, unmolested, on US Public lands in 9 western states under the care and watchful eye of the Bureau of Land Management a part of the Department of Interior.

Over the years the Act has been bastardized by amendments, so the Congressional rights of the wild equines have been eroded away by grazing, extraction and hunting special interests.

Now, the BLM rounds up and removes what it deems to be “excess” wild horses and burros, with little to no scientific supporting data, and warehouses them on contracted cattle ranches (like the Drummonds) while allowing private, subsidized cattle to graze on the wild horse’s former range on public lands.  All of this at tremendous expense to U.S. tax payers and the potential extinction of our wild horses and burros.

So, in my humble opinion, instead of spending tens of millions of dollars to pull wild horses and burros off of their protected land and put them on cattle farms while putting private cattle on public lands why don’t we just (wait for it) leave the wild horses on their rightful range, free, with their families and keep the cattle on the cattle ranches.

Is it really all that complicated?