Guest OpEd by Bonnie Kohleriter
Fly-over/Foaling Numbers Just Don’t Add UpThe BLM uses the fly-over in its Herd Management Areas( HMAs ) to tell us the numbers of horses in an HMA and to tell us of a need to gather and the quantity of horses to be captured and removed. The fly-over is done by those who would do the gather and profit from it . No instruments are used to verify their numbers and location though instruments are available such as photos and GPS tracking and have been repeatedly suggested to be installed.
The BLM employee uses a number of rationales to promote gathers. The fly-over employee can say horses are just one over the high appropriate management level (AML) and qualify them to be gathered down to the low appropriate management level. So if the range of the number of horses allowed in an area is 100-300 and 301 horses are deemed to be in that area, the employee can gather 201 horses down to the lower AML of 100. The BLM now has come up with the idea to gather horses in “complexes.” That means they will gather 3-5 herd management areas at a time maintaining that is good practice because the horses roam between HMAs. If it can be documented only one HMA is over the upper AML number, then all of the HMAs in that complex can be gathered down to their lower AML even though 4 out of 5 HMAs may be well within their range of numbers allowed. Finally, if any horses are deemed to be outside their HMA, they too can be automatically captured and removed, and, of course, not be put back into their HMA. When a helicopter contractor rounds up horses he will typically tell you horses are outside of their HMA as the more horses brought in, the more the profit. You won’t know as cameras and GPS tracking are not on the helicopter.
These practices have led to keeping the Wild Horse and Burro Specialists busy with writing environmental assessments to justify gathers and with conducting gathers themselves. But these practices have also skyrocketed the cost to the American taxpayer and to the horses as they have had to be removed from their public lands with dubious thinking and to be housed in expensive though barren corrals and prisons and in questionable “long term pastures” to which the American public doesn’t have privy. These unwarranted practices are also dwindling the number of horses now on the range down to 20,000 to 30,000. But the gather employees want to continue to be employed so suspected is, we are seeing an exaggeration of the numbers of horses on the range and their foal rates. Presented below is a table of a sampling of gathers to be done in the near future that shows the average yearly percent foal rate from the time of the last gather through this foal season, 2011, given the numbers presented by the BLM employees in their respective HMAs.
AVERAGE YEARLY PERCENT OF FOAL RATE
LAST GATHER DATE/
|POST GATHER|| |
NUMBER FROM FLY-OVER WITH ADJUSTMENTS
AVERAGE YEARLY PRECENTAGE OF FOAL RATE
|Approximate 150|| |
White Mountain Wyoming AML 205-302
Divide Basin Wyoming AML 415-600
PERCENTAGE OF FOAL RATE FROM 2009 TO 2010 in WYOMING
Last Gather Date
|Post Gather||2010 Quoted Number from Fly-over|| |
% of Foal Rate 2009-2010 Using Fly-over Numbers
The foal rates as shown are improbable, in fact, impossible. Yet their numbers are being used to demonstrate horses in their respective Herd Management Areas are over the Appropriate Management Level (AML) whether they, in fact, are or are not. And these numbers are being used to capture and remove animals questionably leaving behind, not the already low lower AML numbers of horses but only the very few horses that escape capture. This next year, unfortunately, may be the demise of the wild horse and burro on the range in the United States in many areas as the Congress is deluded into thinking wild horses and burros thrive in plenty on our public lands. It is a sad chapter in our history as the Mustangs, symbols of our freedom and companions in the development in our West are brutally captured and removed by a dishonest government. And it is infuriating to think these employees are getting away with spending money we American taxpayers don’t have.
These deceptive numbers given the public and Congress are not right. This is fraud committed by the BLM agency that was to protect and manage our wild horses and burros. Horses and burros should only be gathered if they are over an appropriate number which does not allow them or the land on which they live to remain productive and healthy. Horses should not be gathered because employees have a fear they may no longer be employed or because they fear they may not have the money next year to gather so” we’ll grab them while we can.”
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