Monday, November 16, 2009

Wild horse removal generates over 7,000 comments to BLM


November 16, 2:22 PM
LA Equine Policy Examine 
Carrol Abel
Nevada wild horses                                                                        photo by Carrol Abel

The Bureau of Land Management logged over 7,000 comments from a concerned public regarding the scheduled round up of 2,700 wild horses from the Calico Complex in Northern Nevada.  The 21 day public comment period closed on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Rumors over what was thought to be an incorrect e-mail address posted on the BLM web-site turned out to be untrue.  According to Jerome Fox, BLM wild horse and burro specialist, the reason for a last minute change in email addresses could have been due to the large number of responses.  Correspondence to either email address will be logged.  They are then categorized as coming from an individual, an organization, or another government agency.
Octobers release of the Preliminary Environmental Assessment of the already scheduled Calico round up  revealed that between 80% and 90%of roughly 2,700 wild horses from the Calico Complex in Northern Nevada.  Between 80% and 90% of the herds are to be removed from the wild beginning December 1.
Question abound regarding the estimated population of wild horses in the complex which consists of five herd management areas.  BLM documents show a 2004 population of 575 animals..... almost half of those were mares injected with the immunocontraceptive PZP.  The 2007 inventory shows only 761 wild horses.  But records just one year later reflect a sudden rise to 2,071.  By October of this year, BLM records show the complex as home to over 3,000 wild horses.
 The question of accurate inventories is further complicated by a 2008 livestock allotment decision allowing an increase of cattle by almost 300%.  American Herds quotes the document as saying there was ,"little evidence of 'wild horse' utilization...given the relative few numbers of horses/burros their impact on upland vegetation during the critical growing period will be minimal.  This conclusion is supported by the fact that several upland monitoring sites established ( in one of the HMA's) are no longer monitored because very little or no use by wild horses/burros was documented at these sites."
Mr. Fox stated that he personally took part in the October 2009 aerial survey which took place over 4 1/2 days.  The population count of 3,095 wild horses was correct.  When asked if the movement of horses throughout the 4 1/2 day time frame could cause some to be counted two or even three times, he began a reference to "natural barriers" then abruptly ended the conversation saying, "I gotta go. Talk to you later. Bye.", then hung up the phone.
Advocate organizations anxiously await the final decision on the Calico Complex gather.  Willis Lamb, long time wild horse advocate, responded to the large number of public comments by saying, " If BLM received over 7,000 public comments over a single gather, it kind of makes you think there could be a problem with their plan.  And the response sure makes you think that the public is starting to take notice and get concerned about pulling more horses off the range and dumping them in holding facilities. Perhaps the days of "trap and toss" range management are numbered."

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