UPDATE: PUBLIC COMMENT DEADLINE EXTENDED BY THE BLM TO JULY 2ND. PLEASE MAIL YOUR COMMENTS AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN.
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KIBS | KBOV TV, BATTLE MOUNTAIN, NV. (22. Jun. 2020) — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Nevada will host its annual statewide public hearing to discuss the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles and aircraft in the monitoring and management of wild horses and burros on public lands in Nevada.
The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 25, 2020, from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Lander County Courthouse located at 50 NV-305, Battle Mountain, NV 89820. For the health and safety of participants, wearing of masks during the public meeting will be mandatory and all other CDC and Nevada health guidelines will be followed.
The purpose of the hearing, required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, is to solicit public comment on the use of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to estimate wild horse or burro population size and the use of helicopters to gather and remove excess animals. The hearing will also consider the use of motorized vehicles to transport gathered wild horse or burros, as well as, to conduct field monitoring activates.
Nevada’s statewide wild horse and burro population numbers currently exceed 51,500 animals, which is more than 400 percent of the approved appropriate management level of 12,811. Having an overabundance of wild horses and burros above BLM management levels may cause resource damage resulting in limited forage and water availability, which reduces the number of animals that the land can support.
“Helicopter and motorized vehicle usage is a critical tool for managing wild horses and burros on public lands,” said Ruth Thompson, BLM Nevada’s Wild Horse and Burro State Lead. “These management tools allow us to conduct aerial population surveys, monitor animal distribution, conduct safe and effective gathers, and transport captured animals in a humane and efficient manner.”
Since legislated removals began in 1976, the BLM Nevada has removed more than 161,196 wild horses and burros from Nevada’s rangelands. Over 5,477 of those animals have been adopted or sold locally; the majority of animals gathered in Nevada shipped to other states for adoption, sale or older animals are sent to off-range pastures to live out the remainder of their lives.
If you cannot attend the hearing, written comments must be mailed to the BLM Battle Mountain District Office, attention: Jess Harvey, 50 Bastian Rd, Battle Mountain, NV 89820 and must be received by close of business on June 25, 2020, to be considered.
EDITOR’S NOTE. Here is the BLM Battle Mountain Office contact information. Feel free to email them before the deadline. They close at 4:30 pm Pacific time. Comments must be in writing.
Please do this right now while you are thinking about it. Thank you!
American citizens, when polled, state in overwhelming numbers that they value their country’s wild horse and burro population. Advocates have fought long and hard for decades to preserve them, and will no doubt keep fighting.
At opposite ends, the U.S. federal government — charged with their oversight — loathe America’s wild horses and burros and seek to destroy them at every turn. Why? They covet the lands they roam on; they want it for Corporate America to rape and pillage. Rape and pillage they certainly do, but the focus is not on them often enough. Most of the antagonism is trained on the so-called welfare cattle ranchers.
Welfare ranchers hold cheap leases that have often been in their families for so many generations they believe they “own” the public lands they use, chiefly to graze cattle, and feel highly entitled to do so. They are not alone out there.
In high contrast to the aforesaid, you have the super rich we refer to as “Rolex Ranchers” who use vast portions of America’s public lands. They include Ted Turner, Baron Hilton, Mary Hewlett-Jaffey, the JR Simplot Company, Annheiser-Busch and Hunt Oil Company of Dallas. Read about them in “Wild horses, federal grazing and America’s billionaire welfare ranchers“. Not just yet though!
None of the above are doing the public lands any good. Quite the contrary. They are devastating thousands of acres year after year after year.
In contrast, wild horses and burros actually replenish the lands. Yet the federal government would have you believe that they are the ones having a “devastating effect on rangelands”. Cattle are having a devastating effect on public rangelands. Wild horses are “free roaming”. Cattle are not free roaming. Cattle will graze all the way down to the dirt until you move them along. Wild horses are constantly on the move.
Settling those two age old arguments
The following arguments must be settled before we can determine the status and future of wild horses in American, and wherever else they are in the world.
• Argument No. 1: Are wild horses a native species? Yes or no.
• Argument No. 2: Do wild horses damage or improve ecosystems? Yes or no.
Oh, before we start, exotic as used below refers to introduced species, alien species, invasive species or non-indigenous species.
Ms Ladendorf writes:
Those who want to exterminate wild horses believe they are an exotic species who has done great damage to our western ranges. Wild horse advocates maintain they are a native species, who can contribute much to our ecosystems. There are two questions here. Are horses a native species? Do free roaming horses damage or improve ecosystems?
Are horses a native species?
Equids, including zebras and donkeys, spent five million years evolving on the plains of North America, as did the pronghorn antelope. When they migrated from here to Eurasia, horses and donkeys were domesticated there. What left here was Equus Callabus and what returned with the Conquistadors was still Equus Callabus. This fact has been verified by DNA analysis. Domestication did not make any significant changes in equine physiology. This fact explains why domestication dates for horses have always been so difficult to identify.
Scientists use two criteria to define a native species. Fossil evidence has to show the species evolved in a specific location and it coevolved with this habitat. Equus Callabus meets both of them, as do bison and big horned sheep. Their ancestors migrated here from Eurasia, but adapted to their new environment by evolving into new species. Elk, moose, mule deer, and white tailed deer also migrated here, but adapted without any need to evolve into new species. Therefore they are not native to North America yet our laws still give them special protections denied to wild horses. Only non-scientists believe all the species found here by European settlers were native to this continent.
Unlike horses, cattle are exotic species who did not evolve in North America. The first ones arrived from Spain in 1498. They did fairly well in the Southwest, but the blizzard of 1888 showed they needed human help to survive our winters. English breeds came later and they had evolved in cool, wet ecologies.
Do wild horses damage or improve ecosystems?
For well over a hundred years, the number of cattle on our western ranges has been held at a level where profits have been maximized at the expense of land on which they grazed. The ecological damage done by cattle has been well documented, but there has been little or no research done here on the impact of free roaming horses, but one study did show horse grazed sites had better grass cover and species richness.
Scientists believe horses are a keystone species in the preservation and restoration of grassland ecosystems. They believe evolution gave horses the ability to modify their environment to suit their species and in doing so, they benefit numerous other plants and animals. Their digestive systems are relatively inefficient so they must eat a high quantity of food to satisfy their nutritional needs. Horses are browsers who prefer high quality grasses, but evolution gave them the ability to survive on any type of forage. Wild horses will typically graze down lower quality grasses whose growth could otherwise feed forest fires.
The end result of their high quantity diet is they produce lots of quality manure. It includes the seeds of whatever wild plants they have been eating and it enhances soil fertility because it contains a high level of nitrogen. Harem stallions typically create stud piles out of their manure, but other horses deposit manure all over their habitats and it encourages the growth of various species of vegetation. This growth encourages the return of both endangered plants and animals.
Horses also contribute in other ways. They are powerful enough to break trails through heavy brush. Unlike cattle, in the winter they will eat snow as an alternative to water and use their hard hooves to paw through snow to reach the grass underneath. Some of what they have to do to survive aids other species. In winters, they smash through the ice on waterholes to get water to drink. In summers, they dig for both water and salt. What they open up other animals can use to survive.
Cattle are an exotic species and have done much damage on our western ranges. Equus Callabus is a native species and could become the keystone species for the restoration of our grasslands.
Livestock grazing on Point Reyes is a continually unfolding environmental train wreck. Organic ranching is just ranching with all the environmental damage but no chemical additives.
For example, native bunchgrasses growing in the livestock-free elk preserve have deep, abundant root systems that sequester large amounts of soil carbon. Meanwhile, dairy and beef cattle operations have converted their fenced paddocks to non-native annual grasses that have shallow roots sequestering little carbon. Thus, in addition to the potent greenhouse-gas emissions from the cattle’s digestive tracts (methane), ranching impairs carbon sequestration in the soil.
The National Park Service bought all the ranches in Point Reyes 40 years ago, paying a pretty penny — $57.7 million in 1960s dollars (equivalent to $313 million today). Point Reyes ranchers were allowed to stay on the now-public land for up to 25 years after the sale.
It’s long past time for ranchers whose 25-year “life estates” are expired to keep their end of the bargain. Private lands where dairy and beef cattle can graze abound in the Bay Area. On the other hand, public lands like Point Reyes National Seashore are in short supply, and with an ever-growing population of outdoor-oriented people nearby, it makes no sense to commit public recreation lands to private agricultural operations.
Ranch operations should move out of homes owned by the Park Service, and move their livestock off public lands that by law must be managed to protect and preserve, for the use and enjoyment of the people.
In a News Release dated March 17, 2020, the University of Hamburg tells us:
Permafrost soils in the Arctic are thawing. As they do, large additional quantities of greenhouse gases could be released, accelerating climate change. In Russia, experiments are now being conducted in which herds of horses, bison and reindeer are being used to combat this effect. A study from Universität Hamburg, just released in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, now shows for the first time that this method could indeed significantly slow the loss of permafrost soils.
Theoretically speaking, 80 percent of all permafrost soils around the globe could be preserved until the year 2100, as has now been demonstrated by Prof. Christian Beer from Universität Hamburg’s Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN), an expert on the permanently frozen soils found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. If no action is taken to prevent it, half of the world’s permafrost will thaw by 2100. The new study explores a somewhat unconventional countermeasure: resettling massive herds of large herbivores.
The inspiration came from Pleistocene Park in Chersky, a city in northeast Russia. Russian scientists Sergey and Nikita Zimov resettled herds of bison, wisents, reindeer and horses there more than 20 years ago, and have been observing the effects on the soil ever since.
When the snow cover is scattered and compressed thanks to the grazing animals’ stamping hooves, its insulating effect is dramatically reduced, intensifying the freezing of the permafrost. “This type of natural manipulation in ecosystems that are especially relevant for the climate system has barely been researched to date — but holds tremendous potential,” Beer says.
The long-term experiments conducted in Russia show that, when 100 animals are resettled in a 1 km2 area, they cut the mean snow cover height in half. Christian Beer and his colleagues wanted to determine what effect this could produce when applied to all Arctic permafrost soils as a whole. Could the animals’ influence, at least in theory, even be enough to mitigate intensive warming of the atmosphere and stop the thawing of the permafrost?
If you think that’s a million miles away and has little to do with us, read on:
In Bethel, Alaska, walls are splitting, houses are collapsing, and the main road looks like a kiddy rollercoaster. In the coastal town of Kongiganak, sinking cemeteries prevent Alaskans from burying their dead in the ground. The village of Shishmaref, located on an island five miles from the western Alaska mainland, has eroded so much that it is contemplating total relocation. These communities are being plagued by permafrost that is thawing.
Of course you know the story about wild horses and Chernobyl, right? We can’t leave them out. What a story they have been.
The Przewalski’s horse were nearly extinct, but in an effort to save the species they were introduced into the area around Chernobyl in 1998 and to other reserves worldwide. Without humans living in the area, the horse population began increasing. Without humans . . .wink!
A federal judge in Wyoming is now reviewing a dubious agreement between local ranchers and the BLM that would eliminate millions of acres of wild horse habitat.
This may be the most important article you will read this year if you are a wild horse advocate. Please take the time to read it through, digest it, mull it over, remember it.
Cross-posted from The Atlantic
BY ANDREW COHEN
Mr. Cohen writes:
Say you were sitting in a law school classroom taking an exam, or you were on a panel of experts talking about ethics in government, or you were the Inspector General of the Interior Department or a member of Congress, or you were just a plain old citizen who still believes that public officials ought to be honest brokers in conflicts between competing interests — and the following hypothetical were posed to you. What would you think? What would you say? What would you do?
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In 2010, Jane Doe was a deputy assistant secretary at the Department of the Interior. With strong ties to the oil and gas industry, over two separate stints at Interior, she was publicly indifferent and sometimes hostile toward the nation’s wild horse herds, which under federal law are supposed to be protected and managed by the Bureau of Land Management. For her positions, she was sharply criticized by wild-horse advocates.
One day that year, some ranchers and livestock operators met with Jane Doe to discuss their frustration about the number of wild horses living and roaming in and around the “checkerboard” area, a mix of private and public land, in a Western state. The BLM, these folks told her, wasn’t doing enough to remove horses from the land — portions of which they lease from the federal government at well below market rates.
There was a decades-old agreement between them and the BLM, the ranchers told Jane Doe, a deal enforced in 1981 by a federal judge. At the time, the feds agreed to manage the herds and remove most of the horses from the Checkerboard except for those the ranchers reluctantly agreed to allow to stay. The feds have reneged on the deal and the terms of the court order, the ranchers now claimed, and something had to be done about it.
Jane Doe listened to these advocates for an industry the Interior Department directly regulates. And then she offered some advice. If she stridently reminded the ranchers of the BLM’s persistent removals of wild horses from the Checkerboard, roundups of thousands of mustangs over the decades which had angered wild horse advocates in the area, it is not reflected in the record.
Instead, what is on the record, what in fact the ranchers later would include in their court filings, is that Jane Doe told the ranchers that “litigation” against the Interior Department “would be necessary to secure additional funding for wild horse gathers.” She had, in effect, told them to sue her own agency to force Congress to pay the cost of ridding the Checkerboard of most of its federally-protected horses.
Within a year, the ranchers did just that. They filed a lawsuit in federal court to force the BLM to eliminate wild horses from the Checkerboard. Jane Doe and the BLM did not aggressively defend the lawsuit. They did not point to all of the work the BLM had done over the decades to rid the land of the horses. They did not encourage wild horse advocates to join the litigation on behalf of the herds. Instead, the BLM and the ranchers entered into a Consent Decree which, they claimed, was “in the public interest.”
The proposed deal would remove approximately two million acres of wild horse habitat in that Western state. It would immediately eliminate wild horses from two herd management areas and gradually reduce to zero the population in a third area. In return, the ranchers would allow a few hundred horses to temporarily remain on the Checkerboard but pay no additional leasing fees for the public land upon which their livestock are permitted to graze.
The federal case came before a federal trial judge, who happens to be married to the former governor of Wyoming. The former governor is no friend to the wild horses. In fact, his tenure was marked by a great deal of animosity toward the herds. The judge’s decision — whether to approve or deny the Consent Decree or suggest modifications to it — could come at any time.
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Jane Doe, as you may already have guessed, is Sylvia Baca, the former Interior Department official. The ranchers in the scenario are the folks at the Rock Springs Grazing Association. The judge is U.S. District Court Chief Judge Nancy D. Freudenthal. Her husband is former Governor Dave Freudenthal. The horses exist today, at least for now, in the Checkerboard in and around Sweetwater County, Wyoming. Here is some background on the case.
UPDATE. FOX ‘UNINVITED’ KATHRENS. INSIDE SOURCE CONFIRMS THEY HAVE NOT — REPEAT NOT — RESCHEDULED THE KATHRENS INTERVIEW. WE WILL KEEP YOU UPDATED.
Exclusive from Horseback Magazine
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Horseback Magazine has learned that wild horse advocate; Emmy Award videographer Ginger Kathrens, will appear with conservative powerhouse Sean Hannity on his television program Wednesday.
Kathrens is the CEO of the Colorado Springs Based Cloud Foundation. She is the producer of three PBS Nature series specials on wild horses.
Kathrens witnessed Interior Secretary Ken Salazar threatening a reporter who had exposed a possible federal Bureau of Land Management sale of protected wild horses to a known killer buyer for the horse slaughter industry on election night. Kathrens was attending an Obama victory celebration.
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Note: We have since heard via email that the Kathrens segment will be taped today (Wednesday) and aired later this week, so watch for it!