The roundup at Swasey has captured 253 wild horses of the 600 targeted in phase one of the removal operation. Phase two will capture an additional 200 via bait trap.
We are getting emails asking what can people do to help wild horses and burros? The answer is to take action against the pending budget. The budget will determine the next actions you can take. (take action here) or scroll to the bold text further down.
If you want to get deeper? You can start reading the proposed actions; roundups, mining, oil and gas and livestock projects. You can call any BLM district office and ask to be put on a mailing list for any variety of notices. You can see the projects that effect wild horses and give input. You can also see the difference between how agencies manage profit driven interests, and then compare them to how they create documents for resources they are mandated to protect, like wild horses.
Just use an internet search engine like Google, punch in the name of a herd that caught your eye (Triple B, Onaqui, Twin Peaks, Eagle, etc) and click on a BLM link. The district office will be listed. Ask to get on the mailing list for the HMA and the proposed projects for extraction, livestock, etc. that will effect that herd. BLM changed the website in late 2016 through 2017. To find a link to the district that manages an HMA you may need to go to the “update” page for the last roundup; they don’t link on any real “info” pages anymore. (They have also removed statistics pre-2012 and other information that you know have to file a Freedom of Information Act request for, that may simply be ignored. But this is another story.)
If you want to get deep into the weeds to understand the fight to protect wild horses and burros, be able to detect fact and fiction, it’s a good place to start. One HMA at a time. There is a big difference between the soundbites of politics and the reality lived by wild horses and burros.
If you really want to be a voice for the wild? we hope you read this entire article.
To help you understand more we made some of our “Wild Horses 101” material public HERE. We even included a glossary of terminology!
You will begin to see that BLM does not create documents to manage wild horses, just removal documents. They do not stop, or mitigate, damages done to wild horse habitat from industry. Then they blame the wild horse.
What BLM calls an Environmental Assessment (EA) for a roundup is supposed to be a document that analyzes the impact of a roundup. Is it time for one? How will the herd and range be impacted? How many do they take off? That is what the EA analyzes (in theory).
As an example of the things the document should contain is “where should temporary holding be?” Will it allow public viewing? Will it damage the range if sensitive plant species or artifacts are present? Will it impact the ability of wild animals to get water? Are there subsets of the population that should be left alone or some that need more removed?
The EA is not supposed to be the place BLM springs a political desire to sterilize a herd (or part of one). The HMAP is where that is supposed to be discussed.
The actual “impact of the roundup itself,” this part of process under NEPA, guided by the BLM handbooks, is overlooked in the EA. Like: where should that temporary holding be to reduce impacts to the range and wildlife?
What is an HMAP? It is where management is supposed to be addressed, not in the roundup EA.
If you comment on an EA for a roundup that you want the stocking level of horses reviewed, or the forage allocation changed, you are told that your comment is not appropriate. If you comment that a specific area of the HMA is critical to the survival of the herd and no mining should be allowed there, you are told your comment is not appropriate.
To an EA for a roundup it would not be an appropriate comment, if that is what BLM was using it for.
BLM has been skipping the Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP). That is where you would make comments on how a specific herd should be managed. What kind of fertility control would be best for the herd? What is critical habitat? What are the triggers for changing stocking levels (AML) or forage allocation? What triggers a roundup?
Then BLM would do the roundup EA.
The EA for Swasey is nearly 250 pages long and proposes vast changes. If the BLM feels there should be changes in management, the HMAP is where it is discussed and not the roundup EA.
An HMAP should be the in depth document and the EA for the roundup should contain about 10 pages (with attachments for public viewing and humane handling). Instead of doing it that way, BLM is creating larger EAs that do not allow for actual management input, but creates a charade of input and management. So if you hear BLM complain about the workload? they are actually making the paperwork part worse, and increasing contention, by skipping the HMAP.
Are you following?
We have 177 designated HMAs in the US (about 12% of public lands). We have 7 completed HMAPs (HMAs with a management plan).
A management plan that does not have an educated interaction by the public, with ground data to support “the things it wants,” wont have much of an impact on the status quo. But one that does? It gives us a real battle ground to fight for the future of wild horses in the wild. Right now, we do not have the battleground the handbook promises us.
Why doesn’t BLM do them? There are a thousand excuses and none of them relevant; they are primarily a political hotbed BLM wants to avoid. They are mandated to manage, not mandated to remove. BLM has never really carried out a management mission for wild horses.
Instead you are repeatedly told that your comment for management is irrelevant to the EA at hand, yet we wont give you the place to make that comment.
If you want to help us push getting the opportunity to have an actual management conversation for our wild horses?
You can help by urging your Representative in Congress to amend the budget bill:
“I am calling about the Interior spending bill for 2021. I urge you to propose that BLM should be prohibited from using funding to remove wild horses where they have not created a management plan (HMAP) as outlined in the BLM handbook required under the Code of Federal Regulations.”
You can find your rep here:http://govtrack.us
If you are only making one call? Call your House Rep because the spending bill is heading for a full floor vote. If you are making more than one call? Call all of your reps in House and Senate. After the bill leaves the House, it heads to the Senate.
Yes, we can litigate the HMAP. Litigation takes time and is very expensive.
Our legal actions to gain access to witness roundups (meaningful access) on a daily basis took 6 years and went up and down the court system, twice. Our litigation to gain a humane handling policy took multiple cases over 5 years. Often, BLM ignores those cases and we have to push legal channels to rectify it.
You can be the first line in this important action by taking the time to make the call listed above. If you are successful? then we can take the fight into actual management planning instead of just fighting for the opportunity to fight for management planning.
Yes, the legal reality will make your head spin. The on-range reality will break your heart. Think about how many herds were zeroed out because BLM gave away the resources to profit driven interests, without ever actually creating even a management plan for the herd.
We hope you all continue to make the call!
Please remember, a roundup begins long before that chopper flies.
Categories: Wild Horse Education