The Bureau of Land Management is accepting public comments on its plan to reduce over a 10-year period by 3,938 to 7,142 wild horses the population over a 1.1-million-acre area of Nye and White Pine counties in Nevada.
BLM’s goal: reach an agency-set “Appropriate Management Level” of less than 1,276 horses to “restore a thriving ecological balance and prevent degradation of rangeland resources.”
The roundups would take place on the Pancake Complex. It is made up of the Sand Springs Westand Pancake Herd Management Areas, as well as the U.S. Forest Service-managed Monte Christo Wild Horse Territory.
It also includes the Jakes Wash Herd Area, which in 2008 was demoted from Herd Management Area to Herd Area status to be managed to an AML of 0, but which now has an estimated population of more than 46 wild horses. Jakes Wash was the site of an “emergency” roundup earlier this year during which 68 wild horses were removed from the range because of lack of water.
While the wild horse population target on the Pancake Complex is set to less than 1,276 wild horses, BLM allows 59,427 Animal Unit Months of seasonal private cattle grazing over the same acreage. For comparison’s sake, that’s the year-round equivalent of 4,952 cow-calf pairs.
Under BLM’s preferred option, the roundups would also include applying fertility control “and / or IUDs” to released mares, maintaining a 60% male to 40% female sex-ratio skewing, and gelding some portion of the stallions.
RTF opposes the use of IUDs based on past studies. IUDs used more recently by BLM are a newer technology made of a soft, anchor-shaped silicone but RTF remains opposed to their use until they are shown to be safe, humane and effective.
RTF does not advise sex ratio skewing for wild horses for these reasons: (1) management of populations via sex skewing is temporary (populations return to their normal ratios), and (2) healthy populations rely on whatever the norms are in terms of that population’s demographics – adjusting a population of wild horses to skew for more or less of anything does not attain a natural state for that population, with behavior ramifications that are not yet understood (potential heightened aggression in stallions, for example).
RTF also does not advise gelding as a population management tool since there are not sufficient studies to understand the behavioral effects of gelding some proportion of a population, and modeling for population effects is a guess, at best.
Comments may be emailed to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org ?subject=Attn: Ben Noyesor sent in writing to the Bureau of Land Management Ely District Office, 702 N. Industrial Way, Ely, NV 89301 Attn: Ben Noyes, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist.