Thursday, November 5, 2009

SOCIETY FOR RANGE MANAGEMENT Wild & Feral Horse and Burro Management and Policy Conference


From  Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates' WILD HORSE WAR ROOM 


(Nov. 3, 4, 5, 2009)

Issue: Society for Range Management Conference on Wild Horses
Priority: Informational
The Society for Range Management describes itself as, "a well-trained and highly motivated group of professionals and rangeland users working with productive, sustainable rangeland ecosystems." [Citation -]
While the Society clearly consists of individuals that hold advanced academic qualifications, the Society does at times appear to lean towards special interest public lands users, as evidenced in conferences that addres such issues as "Promoting Habitat Diversity While Supporting Livestock Production." [Citation -]
The same special interest trend appears to be behind the society's Wild & Feral Horse and Burro Management and Policy Workshop, described by the society as an "educational seminar."
Concerns raised by horse advocates in advance of this event involved the participation of the ranching, big game sports interests and academics that work with the public lands ranching industry, and the glaring absence of range ecologists and field personnel associated with the wild horse advocacy sector. Therefore it appears that this "educational seminar" will primarily consist of an informercial by BLM (who has yet to get their program anywhere close to being under control) and "advice" provided by selective special interests such as big game hunters and the welfare ranching industry.
The conference is scheduled for three days. The first day will consist of a tour of BLM's horse facility at Palomino Valley (Sparks, NV.) The second day will include various speakers. The third day will involve breakout sessions where groups will formulate strategies and recommendations.
Representatives from the AOWHA are attending this program and are submitting notes taken during presentations and Q&A sessions. These notes are intended to be literal transcripts (without editorial commentary) and will be posted on this web site as received. We will analyze and comment on the proceedings once the seminar has concluded and we can evaluate whether it was an objective event or a lobbying ploy. In addition, a reporter from Vanity Fair is attending the event who, according to some observers, was not treated very politely when he asked a few direct questions. It will be interesting to see what Vanity Fair's take on this event will be.

Please continue to Tuesday's session notes.

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Issue: Society for Range Management Conference on Wild Horses
Priority: Informational
Attendee Notes, Day 1, Nov. 3, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Day 1
Wild & Feral Horse and Burro Management and Policy
Notes taken during tour of Palomino Valley BLM facility
Alan Shepherd and John Neill were guides (two separate tour groups.)
Alan was our guide
Palomino Valley facility opened in the 1970s – they have approximately 1000 head of horses there currently and can hold up to 2000. They recently got horses from Winnemucca, Beatty Butte and Tobin – they are processing some of the Tobin horses today.
Processing means freeze branding, giving shots and recording their numbers in the computer.
Q – is there any sorting done as captured to turn some back out?
A – they use a helicopter to send the horses into a trap where they are sorted by sex; mares with foals; big weanlings; mares and studs. Selective removal to maintain management level – bases on sex & age; colors; size; any historic to the area – those are put back out.
Q- how long do they stay in short term facility?
A – about 200 – 230 days.
More long-term holding facilities have been solicited – they need more pastures to accommodate approx. 6000 to 9000 more horses. About 6000 more horses are going to be rounded up this fiscal year.
Q- how long does a gather take?
A – using Tobin as an example – 375 horses were gathered over 9 days (one day for weather) – about 40 – 45 horses per day. In December the Calico Mountain gather has 3 months set aside – there are 5 HMAs with over 3000 head and about 2500 are to be removed.
Q - when do the gathers occur – foaling allowance?
A – per agreement made in the 70s or 80s – no gathers will take place from March through July for foaling. Burros are not covered by this.
Q – number of horses on the ranges?
A – about 20,000 to 21,000 with a target of only 13,000. that includes BLM and Forest Service horses. There are 3 holding facilities in Nevada – Fallon, Palomino Valley and the prison in Carson City.
Q – how is a count taken?
A – aerial counts – The counts are not taken in the same time frame so many horses may be re-counted as they move around and their areas change.
Q – Why gather.?
A – using supporting data about water, range conditions etc – not just being over an AML number AML is set based on monitoring data – they remove to the low end of the AML – the data includes water, range resources.
Q – how much predation is there?
A – not really that much – he’s seen 4 mountain lion kills in his time
Q – is there a formula used to set the AML?
A – not really – based on water, other animals in the region and historic data – how much water can be produced, how much used.
PVC has private contractors for vets; manure removal and hay
Q – are any horses being turned loose (domestic)?
A – yes, they are finding a few – usually don’t go into the HMAs – but are found closer to towns and people
The Tobin gather – about 85% of the horses were not in the HMA and hadn’t been for at least two years. They picked up all but 24 – 42 of the horses. When asked if this would be a viable number – Alan answered probably not. When asked if other animals were removed from the area – because the range resources were not good – there was no answer to that. Why had the range not recovered if the horses were removed – was there some other reason that the range was depleted? Not sure. Not sure if grazing leases were looked at or any revoked.
Ken Visser of USDI – BLM stated that other wildlife is not gathered but that there are groups who manage wildlife.
PVC is open to the public 6 days a week for adoptions. All horses adopted are current on their shots and worming and get their feet trimmed.
Q – what is the difference in mortality between on the range vs. holding?
A – holding adds about 6 – 8 years to their lives.
Q – problems with salmonella?
A – looking at ways to handle any future emergencies – most of the horses have it in their systems but stress of being captured, etc. escalates it. They deal with the vets on this
The studs are all gelded prior to going to LT holding. The neck tag stays on until LT holding or until adopted. None are micro chipped at this time.
Freeze branding – the brand is held for 35 – 40 seconds on an adult horse and about 15 seconds for a foal. They are allowed about a month in the pens before the shots and branding takes place. The large number brands are hip brands that are used to mark those going into LT holding. (Laura took a picture of these). They can do about 60 horses per day.
(Editor's note: I think this was an inadvertent misstatement. Horses get initial vaccinations and freezemarks shortly after arrival. They are made available for adoption about a month later after they have received their second vaccinations and are cleared by the vet.)
Adoption program has too many horses; not enough adopters; the adopter profile has changed; numbers down to about 4 –5,000 horses adopted from 7 – 8000.
The following was stated but didn’t make any sense:
Horses adopted / sold - 5000
Horses removed – 6000
30 – 40% adoption rate
too many horses available – many removed will not be considered for adoption
LT holding costs about $450 per year per horse

Q – what percentage of your budget is used for marketing?
A – not sure but trying to improve this area – pretty expensive to advertise and many media don’t want to advertise
Rick Orr – said to go to the horse groups for help – like WHOA or the National Mustang Association. Partner with the Mustang Heritage Foundation and other home based groups.
Q – where will this be in 10 years?
A – over run with horses – if continue with 20% population growth - 20000 horses = 4000 additional horses each year – cannot catch up.
Ken ??? – must find some other means of disposal
Alan – must find other ways to manage and place horses

Q - what about field management like contraception?
A - Fertility studies – already being done. 2004 they used PZP on 2500 mares but they still cannot lower the numbers

The next day's notes will be posted when received.

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