Feed the Cows, Starve Everything Else? (Action Item)

Did you know that BLM is beginning to approve hay drops on public lands to feed domestic livestock? 

Instead of bringing the cows and sheep in and requiring livestock operators to feed them on private land, livestock is out on public lands where many areas experienced very hard winter storms. (It is always good to remember that there are multiple subsidies for livestock operators on public lands including reimbursements. One way or the other, you will end up paying for this.)

At the same time BLM is monitoring wild horses claiming they will be in trouble after the storms because there is no feed after hard storms are pushing them into the lowlands (where the cows bash public lands, but BLM won’t say that). BLM says they are monitoring (probably for emergency removal).

BLM is trying to claim that privately owned livestock on our public lands that cannot sustain them due to storms (to the extent that they need to haul hay into battered lowlands) is in keeping with their mission of “balanced and sustained” use.

But wild horses and wildlife that have to come into those cow bashed lowlands when there is heavy snow cannot be fed because they must be “maintained in a thriving natural ecological balance.”

Does your head hurt from the absolute contradiction?

Keeping cows/sheep out on compromised rangeland HURTS wildlife and wild horses further upsetting any assertion of balance!

Note: There seems to be a prevalent misconception that livestock is not on the range in winter. Many permits allow for winter grazing. A lot of permits, many more than the public has been led to believe, allow for year round grazing by domestic livestock on public lands.

Bureau of Land Management, NV, released this photo with the following caption:
“Wild horses in the Triple B HMA showing concerning Body Condition Scores of BCS 2-3. The snow levels are high in the open areas, minimal plants are visible and the bay horse in the front is eating sage brush which has no nutritional forage and is not conducive forage for wild horses to survive on. Monitoring will continue for both the animals and the rangeland conditions. (picture taken on 3/3/2023).” – Bureau of Land Management – Nevada

An example and action item in red further down the page:

Nevada Ely BLM approved dropping feed for cattle/sheep in what is called a “Categorical Exclusion” or “CX.” In other words they claim they do not need to do any further analysis and that underlying paperwork is sufficient (2008, 2015). The underlying paperwork (Resource Management Plan, RMP) allows salt and supplements, not hay drops.

Many humans that live in remote areas hit by the storms were snowed in and could not get to towns and get mail. Our Nevada person is one of those people. Two days ago she went into town for supplies and mail. She found the decision in her P.O. box… and the protest period had already expired.

When BLM does a CX on livestock (like this one) you only have 15 days to protest. If you do not protest, your only option is the lengthy and complex appeal process. Technically, the decision does NOT go into effect until the appeal date expires (March 15). But we have received word that hay is being dropped on public land and fences closed to make sure the cows eat the hay and not wild horses.

We would like to remind you that this is the same district that has a reward out for the person that shot wild horses in Jakes Wash (across the highway from the picture BLM released). In this district we have found dead horses in multiple HMAs (it is not unusual).

This is also the same district (and same area as the photo BLM released) where BLM plans to expand livestock use while the mine expands. The area WHE and WLD filed an appeal (more HERE). The same district where the Pancake litigation is moving forward. The same district BLM approved a massive livestock “gift” that is still being fought in the courts that impacts Silver King, Eagle and Chokecherry (HERE).

The same district where incessant removals of wild horses at Triple B, Antelope, Eagle, Pancake, Owyhee, etc. have been happening while mining and livestock range expands.


We are working on our appeal. If hay can be hauled in, cows and sheep can be hauled out. If the range is so bad right now that hay needs dropped for livestock, hay needs dropped for wildlife and wild horses. If the range is that bad, livestock should come off and not be allowed back out until the range recovers. Who is monitoring the hay drops? What kind of hay? (we are not allowed to hay drop for wild horses because they say it introduces non-native grass).  There are a lot of alternatives BLM never considered.

BLM even claimed that keeping livestock out on bashed and battered rangeland through a hay drop was not controversial.

This is all BLM provided to make the decision:

The following BMPs are found in Appendix A, Section 1 of the RMP under the headings indicated: Special Status Species (#9) • Base placement of salt and mineral supplements on site specific assessment • Normally place salt and mineral supplements at least 0.5 mile away from riparian areas, sensitive sites, populations of special status plant species, cultural resource sites. • Place salt and mineral supplements at least 1 mile from sage grouse leks. Livestock Grazing (#2) “Based on allotment situations and circumstances associated with livestock grazing and multiple use management, implement any or all, of the following appropriate management practices on winterfat dominated ecological sites. • Place salt and supplements at least 0.5 mile away from winterfat dominated sites. Base placement on site-specific assessment and characteristics such as riparian, topography, cultural, special status species, etc.”

Nowhere in the previous paragraph does it say private livestock permittees can drop hay.

If they can, why can’t we?


Contact BLM ELY district and BLM NV state office.

Copy and paste:

Ely District Manager, Robbie McAboy, BLM_NV_EYDOWebmail@blm.gov

Jon Raby, State Director for the BLM in NV, jraby@blm.gov

You can simply say something like: “If hay can be hauled in for cattle and sheep, the cattle and sheep should be hauled out. If hay needs to be dropped for cattle, it needs to be dropped for wild horses and wildlife. If the range is that fragile, keep the livestock off this spring.”

You can visit BLM ePlanning page for the Ely hay haul for livestock HERE.

We are working as fast as we can and have multiple updates on active appeals and other legal actions coming soon.

Kelp keep us in the fight







Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education