Summer is a busy time of year in wild horse advocacy. Our inbox is full of notes from readers feeling a bit scattered and frantic. Summer roundups bing a sense of urgency for reform and increase frustration as the new ways to package the status quo and run it full steam continue.
A fast rundown July 2021
1. The “number one” issue no one is talking about remains the extreme drought and lack of actions by federal managers to protect wild horses.
“Blame the horse” continues to be a driving factor for the program. More on drought here.
We will do an extended piece on drought soon.
The last update to the BLM roundup schedule was published June15. (a simple 3 part series on the roundup schedule here)
You can download a copy of the current schedule here: FY21 Proposed Wild Horse and Burro Gather and Fertility Control Schedule. Please keep in my that this schedule can, and does, change frequently. In the coming weeks “emergency removals” will be added due to drought conditions.
The roundup of Onaqui wild horses will begin later this week and is expected to draw a crowd of onlookers. The removal was postponed a couple of days in part to address any issues brought on by large numbers of observers.
Onaqui has ended (you can view reports from the field HERE)
Most roundups (like the recent burro “zero out” at Centennial) have very few observers.
August, 5 roundups begin: 3 in Oregon (Stinkingwater via helicopter, Beatty and Pokegama via bait trap) 1 in Idaho (4 Mile via helicopter) and a huge roundup of over 1000 wild horses via helicopter will begin at the Surprise Complex (managed by California but physically in Nevada).
September, the operation at Surprise will continue through the end of Sept. The massive roundup at the Owhee Complex in NV will begin Sept 1 and will overlap Surprise. The two operations will target nearly 2500.
The “zero out” of the Centennial HA in California will continue with phase 2 beginning Sept. 3.
Sand Springs in Oregon will begin Sept 15 and target nearly 500.
In the next two months over 4000 will lose freedom.
Oct will begin the 2022 fiscal year and funded by the current Appropriations debate.
The funding debate is moving forward. Once again additional funding is being made available for increased roundups, fertility control and paid partnership grants.
No additional funding is being made available at this time for staffing to complete actual management planning, resource protect or water improvements to address increasing drought.
4. The BLM Advisory Board has released final recommendations. The board want BLM to use “FEMA” funding to remove and house wild horses in drought emergency (and makes no recommendations to reduce livestock or create water improvements, etc). Wants BLM to do a “gather/fertility control” pilot program on a couple of HMAS (BLM already does that). Create a “what to expect” and “debriefing” for roundups (to make excuses for continued violations of policy?). Just a reminder, the board has no actual management or policy making authority. The board simply has the authority under law to exist.
WHE comments were made by WHE member Marie Milliman as follows (in the time allowed):
I am Marie Milliman M A R I E M I L L I M A N and speaking on behalf of Wild Horse Education as a volunteer and field representative.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I have extensively observed and documented the range and Wild Horses on range and during gather operations. Reminder: Wild Horses and Burros are a valued Public resource, not a USE. I would like to have confidence that the board is capable of recognizing the value of public input as more than JUST an emotional response. Valuable/factual information is being provided and should be considered and applied.
I will first address the most prominent subject, drought/water access. This water emergency situation is self-created.
As migration was mentioned as a coping mechanism for other wildlife, horses are prohibited to migrate due to fences that fragment our Publicly owned and falsely perceived, wide-open lands. The fences undeniably restrict access to alternative available, or seasonal water sources and forage. Remove the fences. While the board has clearly stated that the BLM is hauling water, Wild Horse Education is only aware of 2 BLM active water hauls and has remotely contacted every district in the West in the last 30 days, requested that we be notified of drought monitoring, a list of water hauls, any water improvements, and drought reports within HMA’s with zero response.
Why has the agency taken no action on the active EAs that would allow them to close livestock grazing, prepare water hauls and use funding to repair waters for wildlife which includes wild horses? BLM is choosing to not use the fullest extent of the law for restricting livestock use, or the ability to deny mining permits based on drought. BLM puts in productive wildlife water sources surrounded by pipe panels, or outside of the HMA boundary. Over the last ten years, Wild Horse Education has been documenting unauthorized closed gates, water shut off by the permitee, inoperable wells, and springs that are trampled by livestock. If there was a true sense of responsibility for the horses, a resource, the BLM would be preserving their habitat by restricting the uses. We’ve been in drought for 6 years, necessary water improvements should have already been implemented. It’s not just the livestock that are decimating our Public Lands, it’s mining approval/installation that has escalated resulting in further lowering the water tables, habitat loss and fragmentation.
What Wild Horse Education has identified is the BLM failure to actually manage the HMA’s. BLM is searching for “solutions”, when the information to actually manage is already established in the BLM Handbook Chapter 6 Herd Management Area Planning. The BLM has been grossly negligent in NOT completing the HMAP’s as required. This is a base for ACTUAL management of which an equitable Wild Horse allocation should be a priority as stated by law. NOT remove, sprinkle in some fertility control, and profess unavoidable/overwhelming emergencies each, and every year.
CAWP needs revision, observers in the field should have the opportunity to assess the animals at the time of capture, and have access to inventory, shipping manifests, vet reports, etc.
Increased Public Trust should and can be developed with honest transparency.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
Help keep us in the fight.
Categories: Wild Horse Education