Wild Horse Education

Drought 2022 (the fight begins now)

Winter coats being sported on the range

Congress has ignored on-range management of wild horses again in the budget bill. Corporate greenwashing has made it easy for your representatives to stay uniformed and simply expand population growth suppression through fertility control. This is not management, reform of management, reform of the program. This is simply expansion of a single tool that suppresses growth of a herd. In about ten years the number of horses on range will slow, if the agency continues to amp up the system of capture/treat/release and the capture/retreat.

But, the deep issues of actual on-range management will remain unaddressed. Mining, livestock, oil and gas, recreation, etc. will continue to take away the critical habitat our wild ones need to survive. Herd Management Areas (HMAs) have absolutely no protections from industrial grabs. If this were any other species habitat critical within the territories would be off-limits to industry.

The rapid loss of habitat leads to absurdities like “blaming the wild horse” for struggling to find food and water and increasing funding to remove them. This 50 year cycle, the capture and hold industry, is not sustainable.

Simply doing more population growth suppression, without reforming actual land management within the HMA, is simply throwing funding at one tool to keep the status quo running. It avoids the deep controversy involved in creating actual reform.

The “drought, blame the horse, remove the horse” will be back in full swing next year.

Send a letter to BLM Director Nada Culver HERE.

We expect the agency to become proactive and protect our wild horses and their vital range lands from the damage done by profit driven interests. The cows need to come off before a single wild horse is removed “due to drought.”

These are no “emergency” situations that simply happened, they keep happening because BLM has failed miserably in their mandates to manage. Any claim of a “multiple use” toward “thriving natural ecological balance,” can not be taken even remotely seriously when they agency caters to one interest and fails to protect public resources. Wild horses are not a “use” of public land. Wild horses are a public resource.

The two worst stretches of drought came in 2003 and 2013 — but what is happening right now appears to be the beginning stages of something even more severe.

In 2013 many western states began putting “Drought EAs” in place. These drought EAs gave federal land managers the authority to minimize or close livestock grazing allotments as markers of drought showed that if they did not, catastrophic conditions would develop for wild horses and wildlife.

US Drought Monitor continues to report drought conditions.

Federal land managers have not taken action to reduce the risk to wildlife and wild horses from overuse during drought by domestic livestock (that have other options for food and water, wildlife does not).

 

The “growing season” for grasses (forbs and shrubs) is dependent on water, air temperature, soil and other factors. “Growing season” for many grasses in the Great Basin begins as soon as freezing daytime temperatures end.

In 2021 many areas did not even see a real growing season for grasses, even areas normally covered with invasive non-native grass, like cheatgrass, simply did not happened.

Most people think of cows when they think of public land ranching. However, sheep are a huge part of public lands grazing and impact “growing season” intensely.

A combination of a dry winter, and a forecast that indicates another very dry and hot summer ahead, should see a flurry of actions taken by land managers under the drought EAs, that are already in place.

In fact, we have seen sheep and cattle out during the fragile growing season year-after-year as BLM issues EA-after-EA to remove wild horses, remove more trees and approve more fencing. A “status quo” approach is continuing full-steam even though the reality of the range is far from “status quo.”

In area-after-area BLM has continued to ignore broken water sources for wildlife. Yet, they approve project-after-project for domestic livestock and allow permittees to shut off functional sources when the cows come off.

If managers fail to act early, once again wildlife and wild horses will suffer dearly next summer. (devastation at Fish Creek)

Our founder once said, “For the sake of argument, I have a magic wand. I remove all the wild horses and our rangelands are still in a downward spiral. I wave it and remove all the cows and sheep and viola! our rangelands begin to heal.”

In the area of the Martin Fire (where 400,000 acres of wild horse habitat were lost) the BLM is now hitting that complex with another large roundup that, if you do the math, targets every single horse left in the 1.2 million acre complex. This time doing Owyhee as part of the “Path Forward” to stay at low AML and increase fertility control. 

Too many orphans were made during the last Owyhee roundup. Too many died, like this foal. How many are being orphaned at the 2021 operation? we will never know as the agency sends wild horse into off-limits to viewing facilities.

Are land managers ignoring the drought EAs because of the “extremists of public lands?”

In 2014 the BLM tried to close, for the season, grazing allotments in a place called “Argenta” in NV. It led to litigation, that the permittees lost, and the decision to close was affirmed. So the permittees organized protest camps and a movement they called “The Grass March.” 

Intimidation and politics caused the BLM to cave. The taxpayer paid for a team and projects, with a bill of over $2 million total, to keep “the cows out.”

Any questions?

Will everything on our pubic lands suffer because it is simply easier to look for a scapegoat like the wild horse? Will we just see more and more money thrown to continue to reduce populations of wild horses, instead of protecting them and their habitat, because big corporations got together and agreed on something (Path Forward) they could all sell as “progress?”

We need to push Congress on the next budget to take steps for actual management planning to protect out wild horses.

We need to push land managers to take action on drought in HMAs to protect the herds, not just suppress any growth to keep wild ones at genetically absurd low AML (population numbers).

Send a letter to BLM Director Nada Culver HERE.

We expect the agency to become proactive and protect our wild horses and their vital range lands from the damage done by profit driven interests. The cows need to come off before a single wild horse is removed “due to drought.”

These are no “emergency” situations that simply happened, they keep happening because BLM has failed miserably in their mandates to manage.


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Categories: Wild Horse Education