Protect Mustangs is an organization who protects and preserves native and wild horses.
Wild horse expert sounds alarm
As the new Director of Ecology and Conservation at Protect Mustangs and a concerned Carson Valley resident, I attended the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) “Carson City District Draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) / Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)” meeting at the Spark’s Nugget hotel casino on Tuesday, January 13, from 5 to 7 pm.
I spoke with several BLM officials including John Axtell, the Wild Horse and Burro Specialist for this district, and Leon Thomas, Field Manager for the Sierra Front Field Office. I voiced my concerns that stakeholders who previously gave much input for increased numbers and resources in regard to wild horses were being ignored in the Draft Resource Management Plan.
I heard the overview explanation of the document by Colleen Sievers, RMP Project Lead, and instructions for reviewing it. I had given earlier input during the 2012 Scoping meetings in Carson City, along with many other pro-wild horse stakeholders.
It’s important to note there are two new wilderness designations that have just been passed by Congress for this area: Pine Forest and Wovoka Wilderness Areas.
Wild horses need you more than ever to stand up for them and here’s why:
There are five alternatives presented in the RMP document, one of which is No Action, or status quo, that will include improvements for Sage Grouse survival, but little else. Another is for maximizing resource exploitation that would be disaster for many natural values upon which the long term survival of life depends. Another (Alternative C) is for maximizing conservation of nature, and another is for bringing a so-called balance of these (Alternative E). This is the preferred alternative although it does not allocate enough land, water and forage for native wild horses who are needed to reduce wildfires, restore balance to the ecosystem, and reverse desertification on public land.
The Conservation Alternative would greatly reduce livestock grazing and expand wilderness designations but pro-wild horse stakeholders and native wild horses themselves appear to have been ignored. Wild horses should be regarded as native restorers of these natural ecosystems, but in the BLM’s Draft RMP there are serious errors which imply that they are non-native invasive pests with no value to the ecosystem. This, of course, is false.
In my preliminary view, and pending a more thorough analysis of this document, it’s outrageous to see that federal officials appear to have completely neglected the wishes of stakeholders favoring wild horses. They unfairly sided with wild horse enemies to zero out herd management areas (HMAs). The BLM’s preferred alternative are plans to zero out six wild horse “herd management areas,” (HMA’s) rendering them “herd areas.” This is a twisting of language by which the original designation of a “herd area” as an area for wild populations of wild horses/burros in perpetuity, now according to BLM means an area where the wild horses/burros have been eliminated, or “zeroed out.”
John Axtell told me that there was not enough forage or water in these areas and that their numbers were too low. However, he conveniently failed to mention how cattle and sheep have been given the great majority of forage allocations in these same areas, or how the BLM has intentionally failed to exercise the wild horses and burros’ Implied Federal Water Rights that come with any major federal act of Congress in order to secure their basic survival requirements.
The areas that the BLM appears to be planning to zero out in the preferred alternative includes some HMA’s north of Reno such as Granite Peak and Flannigan that have been assigned truly ridiculous, low appropriate management levels (AML)—plus or minus 20 or so horses.
The minimum number for a genetically viable herd is 2,500 wild horses, according to the IUCN Species Survival Commission Equid Specialist Group and these levels are even a far cry from the suspect 150 individuals that BLM documents often cite as being genetically viable for a population.
BLM also wants to eliminate the historic Wassuk wild horse herd in the Wassuk HMA just north of Mt. Grant–where Axtell told me about 125 wild horses still survive.
Axtell claimed there was not enough forage for the horses here. I can’t believe this. I have repeatedly visited this wonderful spirited herd of Spanish-type mustangs and over many decades.
Nevadan biologist and teacher Steven Pelligrini studied the Wassuk herd for his Master’s Degree in biology at the University of Nevada-Reno. His thesis was presented to the public and to the Congress in support of the passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, when he went to testify together with Wild Horse Annie and his professor Dr. John Pontrelli of UNR.
The Carson City BLM’s RMP is targeting our wild horses for removal yet it is mandated to protect them. There exists large-scale public support for them both among the local public, nationally and internationally.
We must stand up and fight for the Wassuk wild horses and for the other venerable wild horse herds that are being dishonestly used as scapegoats for abuses attributable to uncaring people.
I noticed that at the meeting leaders of the Toiyabe Sierra Club and long time wild horse enemies, were present, and engaged with the BLM wild horse specialists and other officials. It appears they have been working to undermine the wild horse presence on public lands for many years, and I am very disturbed about this.
In the “Toiyabe Trails” publication that goes out to many thousands as a free quarterly publication, their President, Tina Nappe seems to be given carte blanche to badmouth wild horses, while those who used to be afforded the opportunity to reply, such as myself, no longer are given this basic right, even in the form of a short letter to the editor.
In spite of the horrible news in the RMP, I was urged to make a strong statement concerning my reasons against the proposed “zeroings out”. These would include how the wild horses are not getting fair grazing allocations compared to livestock in their legal areas, failure to develop or fend for watering sources for the animals and illegal fencing prohibiting their “free-roaming” lifestyle, an inherent part of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
Protect Mustangs is calling all wild horse supporters to speak out strongly in an informed and intelligent manner, for the wild horses and burros of the Carson City BLM District. This RMP/EIS revision will govern land use policy for the next 15-20 years and we must not allow it to be a death sentence for the wild horses and burros, which it largely appears to be.
This is the public’s chance to improve the treatment of the wild horses and burros, and we cannot allow another act of subterfuge.
The proposal can be viewed online at http://on.doi.gov/1uYBNGT and more information can be found here: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/carson_city_field.html
Here are some talking points:
1.) Both horse and burro evolution originate and have immense multi-million year duration in North America.
2.) As post-gastric digesters, different from ruminant digesters, the equids truly restore balance to the North American ecosystem. There is a lopsided preponderance of ruminants today, encouraged by established rancher, hunter, and other linked interests.
3.) Natural predators must not continue to be persecuted and eliminated, such as puma and wolf, natural predators of the wild equids.
4.) PZP and other tamperings with basic biology and social structure of wild horses and burros is contrary to the “minimum feasible” management tenet of the WFHBA as stated in Section 3 a. See my 19 points of law on pages xi to xiii of The Wild Horse Conspiracy. See sections on PZP in the Index as well
5.) Also look up “Pine Nut wild horse herd area” in the Index of my book for more specific information http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Horse-Conspiracy-Craig-Downer/dp/1461068983
To be most effective, please make your own personal analysis of the pertinent sections of this document about which you are knowledgeable and/or concerned, especially the wild horses and burros. You can submit your comments electronically by email to: BLM_NV_CCDO_RMP@blm.gov or by US mail to: BLM Carson City District, Attn: CCD RMP, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City, NV 89701.
Send a copy of your comments to your two senators and your representative asking them to intervene.
The deadline for these comments is March 27th, 2015. Questions can be addressed to Colleen Sievers, Carson City District RMP Project Lead. Tel. 775-885-6000
Examples of what BLM consider to be substantive and nonsubstantive comments can be found at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/planning/nepa/webguide/document_pages/6_9_2_1__examples.html
Thank you for standing up for the wild ones!
Craig C. Downer
Director of Ecology and Conservation at Protect Mustangs
Author of The Wild Horse Conspiracy http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Horse-Conspiracy-Craig-Downer/dp/1461068983
and The Horse and Burro as Positively Contributing Returned Natives in North America (American Journal of Life Science) http://www.sciencepublishinggroup.com/journal/paperinfo.aspx?journalid=118&doi=10.11648/j.ajls.20140201.12
Protect Mustangs is a nonprofit organization who protects and preserves native and wild horses. Join us at www.ProtectMustangs.org
The public needs to stop panicking and read everything they are asking their senators and representatives to do on their behalf
Is something in that form letter you received that you don’t agree with? Do you want wild horses sterilized using EPA approved restricted use pesticides? These pesticides are not safe for domestic horses so why are they being pushed for use on wild horses? Are you giving up the fight for their freedom to live in natural family bands?
Why is an advocacy group encouraging their supporters to write members of Congress–via click and send form letter–asking them to sign on to the pledge to sterilize wild horses (already in non-viable herds) when BLM overpopulation claim is false?
We found their pitch citing a quote from the National Academy of Sciences report in their form letter being circulated around the Internet. It reads:
“. . . Considering all the current options, [porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccines and GonaCon™ vaccine for females and chemical vasectomy for males] either alone or in combination, offer the most acceptable alternative to removing animals for managing population numbers . . .”
Even worse is the pledge they are requesting members of Congress sign and return the advocacy group’s office.
Senators and representatives will take that to mean you want “[porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccines and GonaCon™ vaccine for females and chemical vasectomy for males] either alone or in combination”. Is that what you want?
Or do you want a 10-year moratorium (suspension) on roundups for scientific research to investigate what’s the best way to manage the underpopulated herds of wild horses left in the West?
Why is this group pushing an elected official “pledge” to use “available fertility control” without scientific studies on population, migration, and holistic land management? What is going on here? Who is funding this scare-tactic-based campaign to sterilize America’s wild horses?
Why isn’t the group mentioning to Congress that the National Academy of Sciences report also said there is “no evidence” of overpopulation–why omit this?
Why hasn’t the group done any independent aerial or in-the-field research on population? Is it because it would not support the BLM’s faulty overpopulation claim?
See for yourself how many wild horses are left in the 800,000 acre Twin Peaks area during a recent aerial survey: http://vimeo.com/81195843 Read the scientific report exposing an underpopulation crisis on public land: http://protectmustangs.org/?p=6278
The group appears to know wild horses are not overpopulated. Recently they were quoted in an Associated Press article debunking the BLM’s overpopulation claim in comparison with livestock on public land.
Why then are they attempting to lead the public into blindly supporting a plan lacking good science–a plan calling for permanent and temporary sterility actions against indigenous wild horses?
Is the group eluding to a false risk of all wild horses going to slaughter if they aren’t sterilized?
Why create all the panic so people will quickly click, sign and share the pledge with their senators and congressmen asking them to “take the pledge” for sterilization, etc.? Is the public reading what they are signing on to?
Why is the group pushing for “fertility control”–using sterilizants passed by the EPA as “restricted use pest control”. Wild horses are a native species. How can restricted use pesticides be used on native species? Read more here: http://www.thedesertinde.com/Articles-2012/EPA-Calls-Wild-Horses-Pests–0511.html
Many other valid concerns about PZP were brought up in this 2010 article as well: http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/news/2010/10/220.shtml#axzz2tlL9dGaX More articles will be posted soon.
Are American wild horses becoming lab rats for immunocontraceptives for other species including humans? Read the reference section at the bottom this research paper: http://randc.ovinfo.com/e200501/yuanmm.pdf
How can man (BLM and others) decide which wild horses to sterilize on the range and who to breed? That would be the end of survival of the fittest and the beginning of domestication of the wild horse and burro.
Is the group’s paradigm flawed because it focuses on the individual wild horse and neglects to view the herd as most important–as the lifeblood?
Sanctuaries might need to sterilize wild horses because they have limited space but policy for native wild horses living in the wild should not be modeled after a sanctuary model–unless it is based on reserve design.
America’s native wild horses and burros are wild animals who benefit the ecosystem and fill their niche, reduce wildfire fuel, and help reverse desertification. They are not back alley cats that should be spayed and neutered because of an overpopulation problem. No offense to cats : )
The alleged overpopulation problem for wild horses and burros is a farce.
Now the question is–What do we do to save the wild horses from those who are pushing for risky temporary and permanent sterilization using EPA approved “restricted use pesticides” on non-viable herds?
1.) Sign and share widely the petition for a moratorium on roundups for scientific research. Good science will find real solutions to protect wild horses and burros on the range.
2.) Send an email to your senators and your representatives if you don’t want America’s wild horses to be sterilized. Let them know you didn’t read the fine print of the form letter you signed if that is the truth.
3.) Meet with your senator’s aides and your representative to request they intervene in the wipe-out of America’s wild horses and burros by granting a 10-year moratorium on roundups for scientific research on population, migration, reserve design, holistic land management, etc.
Remember don’t let anyone scare you into believing wild horses are going to be slaughtered if they aren’t sterilized. Fight the good fight for our symbols of freedom and our national living treasures–America’s wild horses and burros.
Links of interest:
Contact your senators and representatives: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/
Petition for a Moratorium on Roundups: http://www.change.org/petitions/sally-jewell-urgent-grant-a-10-year-moratorium-on-wild-horse-roundups-for-scientific-research
The Horse and Burro as Positively Contributing Returned Natives in North America, American Journal of Life Sciences by Craig C. Downer http://www.sciencepublishinggroup.com/journal/paperinfo.aspx?journalid=118&doi=10.11648/j.ajls.20140201.12
January 26, 2014 Washington Post (Viral) U.S. looking for ideas to help manage wild-horse overpopulation http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-looking-for-ideas-to-help-manage-wild-horse-overpopulation/2014/01/26/8cae7c96-84f2-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html
Ecologist Craig Downer speaks out against using PZP in the Pryors: http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4178
Why end natural selection in the Pryors? http://protectmustangs.org/?p=4941
The International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros (ISPMB) study of wild herds shows that functional social structures contribute to low herd growth compared to BLM managed herds: http://protectmustangs.org/?p=6057
Public outraged over the EPA approving pesticides for NATIVE wild horses http://protectmustangs.org/?p=3866
GASLAND 2, a film by Josh Fox, the plight of wild horses is featured, http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/
Wild Horses and Renegades, a film by James Anaquad Kleinert, http://theamericanwildhorse.com/
EPA calls wild horses pests, Desert Independent http://www.thedesertinde.com/Articles-2012/EPA-Calls-Wild-Horses-Pests–0511.html
Protect Mustangs’ letter requesting EPA repair error classifying iconic American wild horses “pests” http://protectmustangs.org/?p=1191
EPA Pesticide Information for ZonaStat-H http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/chem_search/reg_actions/pending/fs_PC-176603_01-Jan-12.pdf
AVMA Reports: Vaccine could reduce wild horse overpopulation http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/apr12/120415k.asp
Wildlife fertility vaccine approved by EPA http://www.sccpzp.org/blog/locally-produced-wildlife-contraceptive-vaccine-approved-by-epa/
Oxford Journal on PZP for Humans and more http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/20/12/3271.long
PZP research for humans http://randc.ovinfo.com/e200501/yuanmm.pdf
Wild horse predators: http://sg.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080302002619AADTWzh
Princeton reports: Wildlife and cows can be partners, not enemies, in search for food. http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S32/93/41K10/index.xml?section=featured
The star studded documentary by James Anaquad Kleinert requests a moratorium on roundups . . .
“It’s time to pick the torch back up and continue the fight. Never give up. We the people must take back the power for the voiceless wild ones we love!” ~Anne Novak, Executive Director of Protect Mustangs