Wild Horse Education

Deadly Traps, Don’t Get Caught


Escape the trap (horses flee from trap in NW NV)

At Wild Horse Education (WHE) multiple questions, frustrations and pleas arrive in our inboxes daily. We have written literally thousands of articles to address many of these subjects. Often you can find what you are looking for in the “Reading Room” drop down or by typing search words in the bar at the top of the website.

An  overwhelming number of the questions we are getting at this time involve what we call “the deadly traps” of advocacy. It becomes very frustrating as an organization that has tried desperately to break through the sensationalism, apathy, spin and avalanches of sheer nonsense to create a sane conversation. The spin comes from everyone and has been perpetuated by a lazy media for a very long time.

If you copy and paste sections of our articles in social media please add the link. We have had our work copied and pasted from, our photos ripped off, even our legal wins plagiarized. WHE has become like the print newspaper industry, ignored for all but source information and not supported. People copy and paste for a story,  leave off the citation, find a crazy voice to quote to get internet clicks on social media. WHE ends up with a hole cut out of our face and on the bottom of the advocacy bird cage (we all know what the bottom of a bird cage gets covered in). So please link us if you quote us, thanks.

We are going to address more of these deadly traps in future articles, but we start with these two as we have limited time to write today.


Horses are overpopulated: The “numbers game” is the number one deadly trap in debate. Advocates are attacked as “emotional and failing to understand facts.” That has been the number one spin that allows opposition to wild horses to use emotional argument and ignore fact. But these are the facts:

A) Over Appropriate Management Level (AML) is simply not the same as “overpopulated.” AML is a term used, man made and manipulated by politics. AML really means “a number set after other uses take the largest share of resource that is not defined by science, but historic use.”

AML is nothing more than a legal reality in land use planning. It is a real problem when wild horses are “over AML” but not for any reason based on science, simply on the numbers game played by politics.

Current arguments use a cherry picking of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review of 2013 that states “BLM methodology has historically undercounted wild horses.” Yes, that’s true. But saying that completely out of context and behaving as if this is some validation of wild horses being responsible for range degradation is ABSOLUTELY INSANE. (of note it is also INSANE to say we have no wild horses because you drove a highway and saw none. Quoting that crazy train is why advocates have no credibility in the room. Thank you AP for looking for internet clicks, not facts).

Your simplistic answer should sound like this, “You obviously failed algebra in 5th grade.” Then leave it and see if they can even figure out what you just said.

Algebra 101: what you do to one side of an equation you must do to the other or you invalidate the equation.

IF BLM UNDERCOUNTED HORSES THEY UNDERCOUNTED IN THE FIRST SURVEY. They undercounted in almost every single assertion of a set AML. If they change inventory methods (they are) then the number they are arriving at can NOT be compared to any number before it. Ask a 5th grade teacher.

Example: If they find a range has been undercounted historically by 20% they have to change the ORIGINAL AND SUBSEQUENT numbers by at least that variable, if not more, or any comparison is simply mathematically invalid.

ALL we are addressing is basic math here. The real dirty stuff comes in the next section and NONE of what is presented is an “emotional” plea. Can we have a conversation based on fact, please?

B) Overpopulation of wild horses is responsible for range degradation. Simple answer, “Are you off your medication?”

Claims that any use of public land grazing is based on a scientific equation are absolutely FALSE.That is a statement made clean across the board and includes wild horses, domestic livestock and wildlife.

Livestock grazing was not based on a scientific equation it was based on “historic use” as the federal grazing program began. “Cuts” to use were not based on a scientific equation, but to historic use. So when you hear “Livestock has been cut 30% across the board,” what you are hearing is a simplistic attempt at stopping impending death to our public land by domestic livestock. The Taylor Grazing Act (1934) was put in place to stop people from killing each other over a blade of grass and to stop the death of the American western landscape. Actions not based on science, but desperation.

Resentment of Federal interference with the stranglehold of public land ranchers, that controlled not only politics but often the local law enforcement as well, is the heart and soul of all of the problems we face today. Does that make us “anti livestock use?” No, it makes us fed up with the politics, bully tactics, finger pointing and death treats.

Animal Units Month (AUM), or the amount of grass eaten by a cow/calf pair, a horse etc in a month, is supposedly a representative of a scientific allocation. In most areas that we manage wild horses (Herd Management Areas, HMA) domestic livestock gets over 70% of AUM’s and horses around 16%. AUMs tend to be representative of ALL grass that supposedly grows on a range. THIS IS ABSURD. All animals use the range distinctly. Domestic European cows rarely travel more than 2 miles from water, rarely graze on over a 30% slope with a tendency to stay in lowlands.

So even if you have a minimal capacity to visualize in 3D, you can see this type of allocation to domestic livestock would lead to battered lowlands even if there was not  one horse in the area. Oh, wait… it does.

“If wild horses were responsible for our degraded habitat would would only have that kind of degradation where we have horses, and it is west wide.”

If you look at that math and most “AMLs based on AUMs,*”  populations of wild horses only consume that much when they are over 200-300%. You also need to remember that we currently have a backlog of full on range land health assessment of over 80%, meaning we are using old data or no data (even areas that claim “assessment” they reference a bare bones, and often flawed, document used to renew a permit. The document is also likely simply be a “cut and paste” of a “cut and paste” used for as long as two decades. *AMLs are really not based on AUMs, as crazy as that sounds.

We can take you further into the math but you really need to begin to address this simplistic truth, there is no science in grazing allocations across the board and blaming the horse is just lazy.Wild horses do not exist in a vacuum. Degradation of our American West is a massive problem and wild horses are a tiny fraction of an invalid equation. Our American West has suffered from a downward spiral of range land health for over 100 years. We have NEVER gotten a handle on it. Blaming wild horses, that only exist on about 12% of public land, is simply stupid.

However, ignoring the cause (livestock, livestock fencing) creates areas of identifiable impact by wild horses simply because they have nowhere else to go. Making the original assertion easy to paint on the wall in propaganda graffiti.

Wild V Feral: These are words that determine jurisdiction under law; wild=federal, protected, feral=all  other jurisdictions, unprotected. In management of wild horses on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land this debate is irrelevant. IF your focus is protecting horses in other jurisdictions don’t bring this deadly trap into conversations on BLM horses. This creates a distraction irrelevant under law.

Scientific evidence classifies free roaming horses as a reintroduced native species. “Wild” horses are federally protected as a recognized resource under law, much like a heritage species. “If Congress declared a pack of Golden Retrievers to be managed wild, follow the law.” END DISCUSSION You can learn more https://wildhorseeducation.org/wild-or-feral/ or simply Google “North American fossil record equus.” HOWEVER this argument is interesting, it is often used to derail you from a political threat, a physical threat and is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

Remember there is no fossil record of ATV use, hunters with long guns and scopes, open pit mines, European cattle and sheep. Those are simply legal uses of public lands.

Wild horses are not a use, they are a resource. We protect resources, we permit uses as a privilege.

Remember that as well.

Further reading: Deadly Traps, Don’t Get Caught – Part 2


Main website: http://WildHorseEducation.org

Categories: Wild Horse Education