Please Comment by April 4, 2017 on the Checkerboard 2017 Roundup
The BLM was unable to roundup wild horses from Salt Wells Creek, Adobe Town and Great Divide Basin in 2016 because we won a lawsuit that prohibits the BLM from managing the wild horses in the Checkerboard using only Section 4 of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which allows them to remove wild horses from private lands. Because the Checkerboard includes public lands, it is illegal to manage them as if they were privately owned by the ranchers demanding these roundups. In order to legally roundup wild horses from the Checkerboard, the BLM must prove that the numbers are above Appropriate Management Level, or AML. Now, they are not even conducting a census to prove this, instead they are “projecting” that the horses are over the high end of AML.
Roundups cause the destruction of hundreds of wild horse families, as well as injuries and death to the horses as they are chased by helicopters and flee in terror into traps. These captured wild horses are chased into trailers and taken away from the only home they have ever had to end up spending the rest of their days languishing in holding corrals with no shelter. Only a lucky few are adopted by members of the public and these do not always mean good homes – the return rate back to the BLM for adopted or purchased wild horses is over 50%. Many many of these horses will end up at slaughter in Mexico. There is no good reason to roundup and remove these horses from Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin.
I have been following and observing and photographing the wild horses in these three herd management areas for the last 13 years. These horses are uniquely suited to this sometime harsh high desert environment. They are the last three largest herds in Wyoming, and they deserve to be preserved on our public lands. Although the Checkerboard presents challenges to BLM management because of its pattern of public alternating with private lands, that is no reason to cave into petty demands from the Rock Springs Grazing Association, which is made up from less than 25 members. These wild horses are valuable to us, the American public, and so every effort must be made to preserve them here where they were found at the time the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed. These horses were here long before the Grazing Association, and now what needs to happen is land swaps to consolidate blocks of public land that the horses can continue to roam upon. Managing the wild horses on the range, on our public lands where they can continue to roam free and making these necessary land swaps happen is what the BLM needs to be working on, not perpetuating this every 3 year pattern of roundup, removal, then warehouse our wild horses. The Field Manager of the Rock Springs BLM Field Office has been quoted as saying: “For all intents and purposes, we consider the Checkerboard private.” But it is NOT private. In fact, over half of the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas are public land, that belongs to us, the citizens of the United States of America, not the Rock Springs Grazing Association.
This time, the BLM wants to remove 1029 wild horses: 584 removed from Salt Wells Creek, 210 removed from Adobe Town, and 235 removed from Great Divide Basin.
They are not even calculating their numbers from an actual aerial census – they are making these numbers up. Every year, the BLM conducts and aerial census in late April, but now they are just “projecting” the numbers.
Great Divide Basin 650
Salt Wells Creek 835
Adobe Town 820
Here are past census numbers provided by the BLM for these three areas:
|2016 Statistically Corrected Census Counts|
|HMA||Total within HMA||Total within Checkerboard|
|Great Divide Basin||542||272|
|Salt Wells Creek||696||187|
2015 April Census Numbers:
Adobe Town: 858
Salt Wells Creek: 616
Great Divide Basin: 579
2014 Post Roundup Census 2014
Adobe Town: 519
Salt Wells Creek: 29
Great Divide Basin: 91
As you can see with these numbers, they randomly go wildly up and down but somehow are considered “statistically corrected.” The BLM has to prove that Adobe Town has more than 800 wild horses, Great Divide Basin has more than 600 wild horses and Salt Wells Creek has more than 365 wild horses in order to legally proceed with a roundup. There is no attempt to account for mortality rates due to deaths of older horses and foals, which can be very high when there is a harsh winter, which this last winter certainly has been, with storm after storm, much more snow and much more freezing temperatures than normal.
A real, professionally done, independent census needs to be conducted to get a real, accurate count of the wild horses in each of these three HMAs before any plans are made to roundup and remove wild horses from their rightful homes.
I have been following the Adobe Town Radio Collar Study which is currently going on in conjunction with the University of Wyoming. Their plan to study the movements of wild horses through tracking 20 mares wearing radio collars will be completely disrupted if they round up wild horses in Adobe Town, so this is yet another reason that this proposal is senseless. I contend that there are NOT more than 800 wild horses in Adobe Town and therefore there is no legal reason to proceed with a roundup, and they will be subverting their own study by removing wild horses from this HMA, so this is yet another reason not to roundup and remove horses from Adobe Town. But none of the horses from any of these three HMAs should be removed without an accurate count of how many wild horses are in each area.
The biggest reason for not going forward with the Checkerboard 2017 Roundup is the well being of the wild horses themselves. This seems to be very low on the BLM’s priority list. What will happen to these 1029 formerly wild horses? We, the taxpaying public, will be paying to warehouse and feed them, at huge cost. The horses themselves will live out miserable lives in the holding facility, without their families, without shelter, and under the possibility that at any moment the BLM could elect to “euthanize” the more than 45,000 wild horses in captivity. This must stop.
Please comment by April 4. These wild horses need your help.
You are welcome to use any points from this blog but please use your own words. The BLM counts any form letter or form email as 1.
email@example.com (Please include “2017 AML Gather” in the subject line), mailed or hand-delivered during regular business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) to: BLM Rock Springs Field Office, 2017 AML Gather, 280 Highway 191 North, Rock Springs, WY 82901.
For more information, please contact the BLM at 307-352-0256.
Here is a link to the Scoping Document: