Roundups (observer reports)

Antelope Complex, Superbowl Sunday, February 2011

Antelope Complex, Superbowl Sunday, February 2011

Roundups (or “gathers” as BLM calls them) are used as the primary means of “population control” by the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM.

A key concept prior to any discussion on “population control” would be a discussion on it’s necessity. This section is not that conversation. 

Another key component to discussion on use of any method of population control is genetic diversity. Genetic diversity is a complex subject and will have a section of it’s own added. Yet we feel it important to add a section of a BLM document on genetic diversity, added without edit:

“How does the BLM maintain genetic diversity when wild horse or burro herd size falls below the recommended minimum size?

If a recommended minimum herd size of about 150-200 wild horses (50 effective breeding age animals) cannot be maintained, a number of acceptable options exists to mitigate genetic concerns: maximize the number of breeding age in the herd (age 6-10 years); adjust the sex ratio in favor of males to increase the number of harems and effective breeding males; introduce 1-2 young mares every generation (about every 10 years) from other herds living in similar environments. A significant number of our HMAs are adjacent to other HMAs and interaction/movement occurs between them which allows for the maintenance of genetic diversity as well.”

our note: the above statement can only be accurate if data is available that supports each statement and that statements made adhere to the law. We have some specific issues with the statement above yet it is a good place to begin a discussion on “population control.

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Population control is a phrase used to describe the methods that are utilized by the BLM to achieve what they term as “Appropriate Management Level,” or “AML.”

Removal operations, such as helicopter roundups and bait trapping, are classified as population control methods.

Birth control methods, such as PZP, spayvac and gelding, are also classified as population control.

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Triple B, August 2011

Roundups are a familiar method used by BLM to achieve AML. They are controversial as the agency currently operates without and standard for humane handling.

Congress passed the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act (WFRH&B) in 1971 as a response to public outrage over the practices of “mustanging.” Mustanging often involved the use of aircraft to run horses to wranglers on the ground where they were roped or corralled. These animals were often left hog-tied in the desert and picked up by “canners” that took the animals off to be processed into fertilizer or chicken feed. Wild horses and burros were being taken unregulated and were literally fast disappearing from the public lands.

Many Americans are astounded that the agency is to protect these animals from “capture, branding, harassment and death.” Yet roundups are engaged by the government that “capture, brand” and do not have a policy in place to minimize risk of “harassment or death” during their own operations.

Public mustanging was curtailed. However many feel that the government simply engages in sanctioned mustanging with the “new profiteers” being those employed through government contracts for removal and warehousing wild horses and burros.

Use the drop down menus (menu bar) to access specific roundup documentation under the “Roundups” tab.