Flyover reveals low wild horse and burro population in California

Craig Downer and Jesica Johnston’s Twin Peaks Flight Report

An independent aerial survey was completed over northeastern California and northwestern Nevada for the Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Area on December 22, 2014. The objective was to estimate the population of wild horses (Equus caballus) and burros (Equus asinus) and to monitor the habitat recovery from the Rush Fire, which burned 315,577 acres in August 2012. The flight and pilot were arranged and made possible through LightHawk.

During the aerial survey a total of 62 horses and 11 burros were counted along the 174 miles of transect strips flown within the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area boundary. In addition, several groups of approximately 90 trespass cattle grazing on public land were documented in the no grazing restricted area from the 2012 Rush Fire. These were found in the south-western section of the Twin Peaks Grazing Allotment #00701 in the Skedaddle mountain range.

Using the aerial strip transect method, the survey estimated the populations of wild horses and burros in the Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Area as follows:
(a) 447-593 wild horses (including some mules)
(b) 101-120 wild burros

Follow this link to read the full report: Twin Peaks Flight Report

3 thoughts on “Flyover reveals low wild horse and burro population in California

  1. thank you Protect Mustangs for going out and actually counting wild horses which the BLM does not do – resulting in wildly inaccurate numbers and supporting the mythology that our wild horses are overpopulating. Statistical projections by the BLM do not constitute actual counting to verify wild horse populations. It enables them only to
    perpetuate self-serving myth in an attempt to justify continuing roundups designed to wipe out our wild horses entirely not “control” their populations !

  2. This was an independent flyover by Jesica Johnston and Craig Downer. We are so grateful they keep doing flyovers!

  3. I have been following Craig Downer, Anne Novak, Protect Mustangs, along with other horse advocates on FaceBook, Twitter and in the news. Many of us feel so powerless in face of the BLM, Congress, Department of Agriculture, and other Government Agencies that are making unjust decisions in regards to the use of Public Land, including the unjust Round Ups of our Wild Horses, Wild Burros, and other wild life that exist on the Public Lands.

    The Public and Advocates are outraged at the insensitivity shown to the wild horses and wild burros during these round ups. The capture process is very stressful and cruel, causing injury and death. After capture the horses and burros are separated from their bands and nursing foals, stallions are put together to fight and injure each other,. The wild horses and burros are frightened, shocked with cattle prods, and abused in order to load them on crowed trailers. They are shipped off to places unknown and put through an assembly line where they are contained in a squeeze pen and branded with an unsightly and very large branding. During capture and transport it seems apparent that the injured horses aren’t properly taken care of by a vet or given anything to ease their pain and stress. The foals are separated for long periods of time without access to their mother or access to water, which is crucial, because of concerns of dehydration.

    As far as most of us, who have been educating ourselves with the plight of the advocates for the wild horses and burros, we have been given no valid reason why the wild horses and burros should continue to be rounded up, as the numbers show not only in this study, but other scientific studies, that the wild horses and burros that remain to roam free are insignificant in relation to the amount of land they have access to roam. Some of the herds have been reduced in such numbers that certain bloodlines, distinguished by DNA, are on the verge of extinction. The natural breeding and selection process has been disturbed and the future of these magnificent animals are in danger.

    My hope, and the hope of other advocates, is that the Court will allow this injunction and further injunctions of wild horse and burro gathers until such time the BLM and Government Agencies can justify this action. The public lands are being desecrated by fracking, mining, and over grazing by cattle and sheep, for profit businesses. The lands should be preserved for the wild life, which is the wild horses and burros.

    The Department of Agriculture needs to re-define the horse and burros, as companion animals or wild life, not “livestock”. As many of the gathered horses and burros get shipped across the boarder to slaughter.For those that remain in holding facilities their freedom is taken away and subject to a life of overcrowding and misery at a high cost to the taxpayers. If the adequate amount of land would be designated and preserved properly for their existence, or coexistence, with other wild life, it would be less of a tax burden and the lands could be preserved for future generations.

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