Wild Horses Biodiversity and Ecological Zones — Wild Horses Benefit Our Lands

“What needs to stop, is the bad decisions based on what Bureau of Land Management personnel knows to be misinformation, and even out right lies!  These items so plentiful, and now coming from non-profits with conflicts of interest as well, and cannot be used to make further decisions upon and about the Wild Horses on our Public Lands. We need to demand truth!  And with the truth,, good science, good data, and those with the knowledge to understand the data and research statistics, only then can we make good reasonable decisions about the Wild Horses, and placing them back onto our Public Lands.  Time for the Special Interests and welfare ranchers to go, as they are all unnecessary as well as not needed there what so ever.”  — John Cox, The Cascades

When we discuss the Loss of biodiversity within Ecological Zones, we are discussing, with evidence we see first-hand combined with a thorough knowledge of history, a Reality. . . The 48% Overkill, or mass extinction of species, has become devastating – the reality becoming even worse within our wilderness environment. But less recognized is loss of biodiversity at the Ecological Zone or entire ecosystem level, which occurs when distinct habitats, species assemblages, and natural processes are diminished or degraded in quality.Federal Lands

America’s broken Wildlife Management System, based upon ignorance, fear, and obvious agenda-driven bad science, apparently assumes everything is okay in our wilds and with our wildlife – but it is not, and has not been for quite some time now . . . America is being invaded, not by another country, but that of mind-set = of blatant Ignorance and Illusory Perceptions of knowledge based on nothing more than ignorance or false premise.

Our Public Lands and other Federal Lands, currently, are experiencing the highest rates of species extinction in America’s history. However, biodiversity is being lost more widely than just on these lands. Habitats, such as freshwater-zones, desert and forested Public Lands, and old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, to name but four, are being destroyed very aggressively, with much ignorance and from government agencies, with total destruction eminent much sooner than perceived previously.

With this in mind, we stand to lose a far greater proportion of species (lands incapable of supporting these species due to interference from human’s), inclusive of America’s Wild Horses as well, within areas designated as cattle grazing permit zones, or areas settled and exploited within other activities by humans – both (i.e. due to ignorance and lack of positive driven actions) the causation and not the cure. The loss of biodiversity at the ecosystem levels, i.e. Ecological Zones Levels, have been greatest there so far, extreme in devastation.

Inward Perspective of Ecological Zones

Ecosystems can be lost, or tragically compromised, in basically two ways. The most obvious kind of loss is quantitative–the conversion of a native prairie to a cattle grazing allotment situation on Public Lands or on Forestry Lands, or just as extreme, construction of buildings or to a parking lot or oil exploration, et al. Quantitative losses, in principle, can be measured easily by a decline in areal extent of a discrete ecosystem type (i.e., one that can be mapped).

The second kind of loss is qualitative and involves a change or degradation in the structure, function, or composition of an ecosystem. At some level of degradation, an ecosystem ceases to be natural. For example, a ponderosa pine (e.g. Pinus ponderosa within the Klamath Basin) forest may be compromised by removing the largest, healthiest, and frequently, the genetically superior trees; a sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) steppe may be grazed so heavily that native perennial grasses are replaced by exotic annuals (becoming firestorm hazards); or a stream may become dominated by trophic generalist and exotic fishes (e.g. as cattle grazing those lands wreaked havoc with the indigenous species, which disappeared, and exotics simply invaded and took over, i.e. Murderer’s Creek for a good factual and data driven example).

Qualitative changes may be expressed quantitatively, for instance, by reporting that 99% of the sagebrush steppe is affected by livestock grazing, but such estimates are usually less precise than estimates of habitat conversion. In some cases, as in the conversion of an old-growth forest to a BLM grazing permit allotment, the qualitative changes in structure and function are sufficiently severe to qualify as outright habitat loss. Then the awkward question becomes, “How many of these habitat losses can we handle before the collapse of an entire Ecological System devastates the entire environmental complex?heavenly-pit

Frankly, within this modern age of information outlets, we have achieved several negative situations of a nature not so attractive, nor to take pride within, what so ever. Yes, ignorance and stupidity often questions good science, and moronic confusion follows. Often, ironically within this information age, political decisions, for example, sometimes based on outright lies, and the only credible situation that exists, well, no credibility what so ever for the decision at all.

In Oregon a Law was passed three years ago, that gives Rights to legislators to “Lie” about the facts and science in matters of passing Bills / Laws for the state. This year the wolves in the State of Oregon were Delisted from the Endangered Species List, due to falsification and lies about science, about the ESL itself, and lies in the matter of “facts-given” within the ratios of wolf-caused cattle attacks (less-kills by wolves a reality when compared to the facts given to other legislators on this subject material) – the cattle industry very questionable within integrity these days also, with no apparent credibility what so ever.

Ecological Zones and Destructive Invasive Situations

Conifer forests that are inner-dependent on circumstances from good management paradigms, e.g. fire suppression, notably ponderosa pine in the Cascade Mountain Range, have declined not only from logging, but also from invasion of non-indigenous animals, for example, by cattle and their obvious over-population. These kinds of change can cause the loss of a distinct Ecological Zone and entire ecosystem as surely as if the forest were clear-cut, which is also done for cattle – a very controversial situation indeed, but with BLM and Forestry, who remain overwhelmed with misinformation and lies and bad science, which is given to the public to cover-up the reality and destruction.

Ecological processes are also affected; widespread insect infestation and tree mortality east of the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest is blamed largely on past fire suppression, mostly by government sources. Then we look at other realities, specifically, cattle and their over-population once again.

One of the best examples is the Sage Grouse (and the supposed inter-cooperative agreements between welfare ranchers on Public Lands and Forestry Lands and the Department of the Interior (with BLM as the management portion, or mismanagement as many speak of the program itself, quite obvious to most, and costing taxpayers millions but based upon a false premise) –

The Reality: cattle hooves stomp the grasses that the Sage Grouse live within for shelter and to hide form their natural enemies, as they are a food source for many wildlife species, and the reason why they are endangered. Soon the Sage Grouse unprotected – and cattle-presence also attracts crows, and crows favorite food source? Yup, Sage Grouse. BLM’s response? “Let’s kill all the Crows. Government incompetence? Or, government imposes special interest favors, special agendas due to lobby groups, upon taxpayer’s dollars, and toward welfare ranchers – all guided by misinformation and false premise to conduct the travesty, or, the destruction of more Ecological Zones? The facts do not lie – although, in this case especially (one of many more) government personnel and welfare ranchers do lie.

Invasion and Destruction of Ecological Zones / Saving them

So what is it, logically and knowledgably, we discuss in the matters of Ecological Zones or overall ecosystem decline. Through research we find that the most endangered ecosystems are typically at low elevations and have fertile soils, amiable climates, easy terrains, abundant natural resources, and other factors that encourage human settlement, but worse yet, exploitation.

The Great Plains, for example, and here in Oregon, is a vast sagebrush steppe of the Intermountain West that is in many areas overgrazed by cattle, with a very noticeable over-population of cattle present almost year around. Regional studies of ecosystem status should address the many potential causes of biotic impoverishment to devise effective conservation and restoration strategies – but when cattle involved, reality-conservation paradigms are not discussed at all within our current government management agencies. Why? History (sound research and data gathering as well) shows us that Buffalo did not migrate over large parts of the Great Basin way back when, due to the shelf-crust to thin, which also exists today. Mother Nature at work with the Buffalo, much wiser than our human species, obviously. So cattle roam, and are very destructive on the thin crust of lands within the basin areas.

The functional ideology, or paradigms, favoring the growth of Ecological Systems, is to save species by protecting samples of the entire ecosystems themselves. This can be tested very easily, although not done so by current management agencies — and by determining whether declines of ecosystem types have been accompanied by declines and extinctions of species that depend on or are associated with those ecosystems. What many of us are finding, who are in the field all the time, is overwhelming indeed, and quite obvious.

The fact is – many species are being eliminated by the Bureau of Land Management and due to incompetence as well as blatant ignorance of Ecological-Factors, Wildlife Services, and welfare ranching combined – and one of the primary developing factors of the current 48% Over-Kill of America’s Wildlife, which destroys Ecological Systems, as well.

Conclusion

With a thorough investigation of facts, not of misinformation nor bias toward or favoring any group of facts over another due to special interests, we then conclude that the conservation of entire Ecological Zones/ecosystems, rather than recovery/sustaining of individual species of non-indigenous animals, becomes of paramount priority. Preservation of entire communities requires truthful and sound habitat management based on good science, nothing left out, or added, to favor special interests, and the ability to ascertain or understand the research material and good data recovery, to generate sound management paradigms and decisions. This we find is superior over isolation of certain recovery favored recovery areas.

Due to good data collection, as well as a good understanding and breaking down the data to an informative type of statistics, myself and others find that placing Wild Horses back onto their legitimate, and Legal by Law homelands, is good for all of the Ecological Systems that would make up the ecosystem landscape within its entirety.

john cams and vids maps tableThis also provides for the removal of the actual destructive elements, the non-indigenous cattle – for example, and allow the lands where previous grazing permits did exist, to replenish itself back to its natural habitat of a healthy Ecological system for its inhabitants – and that includes the human species as well. Obtaining a natural wilderness area is far superior, when compared to irresponsible management paradigms that specify a one-person or corporation more important than the taxpayer or American paradigm (nor certainly not of Constitutional grounds) and neglecting all others who are involved, and who pay for it; which, in truth remains environmental-complex areas, entire ecosystems, for use by Special Interests only.

We can no longer afford the Bureau of Land Management statistics that are untrue, for example: the misinformed and lacking information of a 20% growth rate of wild horses, when there are no other situations considered, such as death of wild horses at 18% to 24%, and the birth rates that show beyond a doubt that in the wilds it exists in reality at 51% to a high of +/- 64% undebatable statistics.

We cannot any longer, as well, consider the welfare ranching paradigm as a doable, nor positive situation on America’s Public Lands and within America’s Forests, as it is too destructive to all Ecological Zones and wildlife. And when we consider the actual facts: the less than 1% of sales domestically (DOI/USDAS/GAO Reports) from commercial markets of beef sales receipts; the 34% throw away of commercial beef from non-sales in markets yearly (USDA/GAO reports), and the tremendous amount of activity toward the 48% Over-Kill of America’s wildlife directly related to welfare ranching on Public Lands and Forestry areas — then our conclusion is easily developed by sound reasoning and common sense, also through good science, data gathering, statistics, and facts – welfare ranching is entirely unacceptable as well as unneeded on America’s Federal Lands — entirely.

What one will also discover, is those of us who have no Conflict of Interests, demand that Wild Horses be placed back onto their homelands, and to be allowed to let nature takes its course, and humans, with their bad management and incompetent behaviors, who have wreaked havoc enough within our natural areas and wilderness areas alike. We allow the facts to speak for us, not special interests nor greed, nor conflict of interest!

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Wilcove, D. S., C. H. McLellan, and A. P. Dobson. 1986. Habitat fragmentation in the temperate zone. Pages 237-256 in M. E. Soulé, editor. Conservation Biology: The Science of Scarcity and Diversity. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Mass.

Wilcox, B. A., and D. D. Murphy. 1985. Conservation strategy: The effects of fragmentation on extinction. American Naturalist 125:879-887.

Williams, J. E., J. E. Johnson, D. A. Hendrickson, S. Contreras-Balderas, J. D. Williams, M. Navarro-Mendoza, D. E. McAllister, and J. E. Deacon. Fishes of North America endangered, threatened, or of special concern. Fisheries 14(6):2-20.

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Institute, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, United Nations Environmental Program, Washington, D.C. *World Wildlife Fund Canada. 1993. Protected areas gap analysis methodology. Draft report. World Wildlife Fund Canada, Endangered Spaces Campaign, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Cross-posted from John Cox http://bit.ly/2csth5p

Marybeth Devlin comments on the Sulphur Wild Horse roundup plan

Email: blm_ut_sulphur@blm.gov

Copies: jwhitloc@blm.gov, tchristense@blm.gov, eburghar@blm.gov
January 19, 2016
Cedar City Field Office
176 E DL Sargent Drive
Cedar City, UT 84721
Project Name: Sulphur Wild Horse Gather Plan

Document: Environmental Assessment — Preliminary

NEPA ID: DOI-UT-C010-2015-0011-EA
This letter responds to your request for substantive comments and new information that BLM-Cedar City should consider regarding the subject Plan. I submit mine as an interested party in behalf of the wild horses of the Sulphur Herd Management Area (HMA).

I support the use of radio collars to track the horses and the construction of a fence along Highway 21 for the safety of both horses and humans. However, I urge you to cancel the roundup-and-removals, discontinue PZP treatments, correct the fraudulent population-estimates, and take other specified corrective actions.

I suggest the addition of another alternative: Increase the AML, collar the horses, fence the Highway but remove interior fences, conserve apex predators, and install guzzlers throughout the HMA.

As for the proposed alternative, if BLM has confidence in the WinEquus population-growth modeling, then please note that the “removals only” alternative yields a median-trial average herd-size that is nearly 24% lower than the proposed alternative — 318 versus 417. As for PZP injections, they should be abandoned because they are dangerous to the mares, to the foals (born and unborn), and to the staff and volunteers that handle the pesticide.

For ease of reference, here are the links to the documents at issue:

News Release — 2015 EA

http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/info/newsroom/2015/December/EAsulphurwildhorsegather.html

News Release — 2015 Public-Safety Removals

http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/info/newsroom/2015/february/public_safety_concerns.html

Sulphur Gather Environmental Assessment — Preliminary

http://www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/ut/natural_resources/wild_horses_and_burros/general.Par.73121.File.dat/Preliminary%20Sulphur%20Gather%202015%20EA_12_18_15.pdf
REASONS CITED FOR GATHER-REMOVE-CONTRACEPT PLAN
Overpopulation, Forage Limitations

BLM lists overpopulation and forage / water limitations as the need for the proposed action. The “overpopulation” in this case merely means “over AML”. And because the AML is arbitrary and unscientific, it is meaningless. Range-conditions function as natural feedback to wild horses, allowing them to self-regulate their numbers. That is how Nature works. BLM is meddling unnecessarily. The intervention that is needed would be to offset the impact of livestock-grazing — eliminating interior fences that block wild-horse movement and installation of trick-tanks (guzzlers) to capture and store precipitation.
The Proposed Action

BLM-Cedar City plans to conduct two-to-four helicopter-style roundups-and-removal operations over the next 10 years to bring the herd’s alleged overpopulation down to the low-bound of the arbitrary management level (AML) — 165 horses on 265,675 acres — and maintain it there. BLM claims there are “excess” horses but the EA does not reveal the number. Instead, the EA goes on and on about the historical numbers and removals. Not even a “ballpark” figure is listed for how many horses BLM would remove initially, some sources have mentioned “over 500.”

BLM further plans to forcibly inject all of those few mares it plans to allow back into the HMA with PZP-22, the long-acting version of the pesticide. PZP is known to sterilize after as few as three injections in mares, or after just one shot in fillies that have not yet reached puberty. And the EA states that BLM plans to administer PZP treatments to yearling fillies.

http://dataspace.princeton.edu/jspui/handle/88435/dsp01vt150j42p
Baseless and Biased Assumptions

A review of BLM’s data — its assumptions, claims, population-estimates, gather-data, and PZP-inoculations — for the Sulphur herd disclosed

Grossly-exaggerated estimates,
Failure to adjust for PZP’s contraceptive impact,
Failure to factor in wild-horse deaths on the range from natural causes,
Ignorance of the new study that found the effective birth-rate averages 10 percent,
Ignorance of the new data showing “hands-off” management results in 5-to-8 percent growth,
Failure to include studies — both old and new — that reveal PZP’s damaging impacts, and
FRAUDULENT POPULATION ESTIMATES
Birth Rate versus Herd-Growth Rate

Before we examine BLM’s reported herd-growth rates of this HMA, it is important to understand the difference between the birth rate and the herd-growth rate. The birth-rate is not the same as — and should not be equated to — the population growth-rate. BLM claims an average birth rate in wild-horse herds of about 20% a year. But herd-growth is unlikely to reach 20 percent a year. Here’s why: Horses die.

An independent study reviewed BLM roundup-records for a representative sample of four herd management areas and a robust sample-size of 5,859 wild horses (Gregg, LeBlanc, and Johnston, 2014). While the researchers found an overall birth rate of just under 20 percent, they also found that half of foals perish in their first year of life. Thus, the effective foal-to-yearling survival rate is just 10 percent. Cedar City’s claim that 95% of the Sulphur foals survive is not credible. It is just self-serving for administrative convenience in equating the birth rate to the growth rate. That wrong assumption has been disproved. Moreover, I note that the 2013 inventory counted 25 foals born out of season. That anomaly was likely due to the PZP treatments, which research by Ransom et al. (2013) disclosed.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23383018

However, CCFO failed to include that study as a reference; and although it did cite another Ransom et al. study (2010), it was not included in the EA’s “References” section either.

Births outside the normal parturition-pulse put the survival of both the mares and foals at risk.
Adult Wild-Horse Mortality Rate Must Be Factored

But it is not only foals that die. Adult wild horses also perish. They succumb to illness, injury, and predation. Indeed, the EA claims that 8 horses were found dead in 2015. The adult death rate must be taken into consideration. Adult mortality is at least as high as the 5% a year for horses that die in short-term holding, where they are fed, watered, and provided care.

Given the 50% foal mortality-rate, and the 5%-or-higher average annual death rate of adult wild horses on the range, herd growth could not increase 20% a year, and a herd-population could not double in 4 years — refuting yet another BLM myth. But BLM ignores mortality — foal and adult — in its population-estimates, which exaggerates the numbers it posts.
The Herd-Growth Rate Must Necessarily Be Lower Than the Birth Rate

In light of the high foal-mortality rate and the expected adult wild-horse mortality rate, the herd-growth rate must always be lower than the average 20% birth rate. However, herd-growth rates many times higher than 20% — which would necessarily mean birth rates substantially higher still — are routinely found in BLM’s population data, including the year-to-year figures for Sulphur HMA and other HMAs under Cedar City Field Office’s jurisdiction. Stealthily inserting bogus birth-rates into the data, wrongly conflating birth-rates with population growth-rates, and failing to factor in mortality-rates — that is one of the ways BLM creates the false impression of a population-explosion.
Stochastic Events Also Reduce Herd Growth

BLM also fails to consider another factor limiting herd growth — stochastic events — which are random catastrophes such as wildfires or contagious diseases or pesticide treatments that suddenly wipe out mass-numbers of herd-members. Stochastic events can result in no-growth or even negative growth.

There was such an event recently in Kazakhstan, where 120,000 endangered Saiga antelope — half the world’s population — died off suddenly and inexplicably.

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-saiga-antelope-die-off-20150531-story.html

Imagine if such a catastrophe were to befall the Sulphur herd. Note that the Saiga deaths involved antelope-mothers and their calves. What if Sulphur’s few fertile mares and their foals perished all of a sudden, leaving mainly stallions and sterile old mares? BLM must proactively manage the herd per IUCN International Union for the Conservation of Nature guidelines, if only in case of stochastic events.
Maximum AML Set Below Minimum Viable Population

But “cooking the books” is not the only way BLM falsifies the population-picture. Another ruse BLM employs is restricting maximum herd-size below minimum-viable population (MVP) size. Then, whenever a herd is made to appear — via fictitious figures — to exceed the arbitrary management level, BLM screams “excess!” and declares an immediate need for mass-removals and sterilizations. It should be noted that more than 70 percent of the herds are “managed” below MVP, including Sulphur. What is the MVP? According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature: 2500, a number which could easily be accommodated by the 265,675 acres of the Sulphur HMA.
Phony Population-Estimates

According to BLM’s 2013 population-estimate, the Sulphur herd was reported to have had 384 members. The corresponding estimate for 2014 showed 718 horses.

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/herd_management/Data.html

Let’s do the math.

718 in 2014
– 384 in 2013
——-
334 — an 87-percent increase (334 ÷ 384 = 87%).

This is improbable. Even if 87% were only the birth rate, it would be 335% higher than the 20% birth rate that BLM claims as average and which the independent study by Gregg et al. confirmed. Surely, herd growth — births minus deaths — could not be that high.

BLM attributes the impossibly-high estimate to “improved inventory methods.” But as has been pointed out to BLM previously, the “mark-resight” method, conducted by helicopter, appears to overcount the population. Indeed, as the report by the specialty-contractor who conducted the Red Desert Complex (Wyoming) census emphasized, there are assumptions and caveats that must be considered when evaluating the numbers, including the potential for having double-counted due to “horse activity (moving).” The method itself exaggerates the numbers.

http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/rfo/red-desert.html
Population and Gather Reports — The Data

Discrepancies were evident per a review of the …

HMA and HA Statistics reports for the Sulphur herd from 2008-2015,
Completed Gathers reports from 2009-2014, and the
Population-figure referenced in CCFO’s News-Release for 2015’s public-safety gather,
Sulphur HMA — Utah — Herd Population Changes — 2008 to 2016

The following chart merges the yearly population-estimates with the gather and contraceptive data to reveal how the numbers were calculated and where errors were made initially, which caused them to compound. The beginning-of-the-year figure for 2015 — the pre-gather estimate — was per the BLM’s pre-safety-gather News Release.

Max Beginning
Year AML Estimate R-up Done Foal-Crop and Other Figures, Estimates
2008 250 435 + 87 BLM estimated foal-crop @ 20%.
Falsely equated it to the herd-growth rate.
November 522 Pre-gather estimate = 435+87
362 Rounded up
333 Removed
29 Released
160 Assumed to have evaded capture
1 Tacked on
——
190 Post-gather estimate = 29+160+1
2009 190 + 40 BLM estimated foal-crop @ 21%
Falsely equated it to the herd-growth rate.
230 End-of-year estimate = 190+40
2010 230 + 67 BLM estimated foal-crop @ 29%
Falsely equated it to the herd-growth rate.
December 297 Pre-gather estimate = 230+67
250 Planned to gather
90 Rounded up — 36% of plan
30 Removed
38 Mares vaccinated with PZP
22 Other horses also released
207 Assumed: evaded capture
—–
267 Post-gather estimate = 38+22+207

2011 267 + 53 BLM estimated foal-crop @ 20%
Falsely equated it to the herd-growth rate.
PZP would not have affected mares
—– already pregnant when inoculated.
320 End-of-year estimate = 267+53
2012 320 + 64 BLM estimated foal-crop @ 20%
Falsely equated it to the herd-growth rate.
But that birth-rate estimate was wrong.
PZP was at maximum effect and
—– would have reduced the foal-crop.
384 End-of-year estimate = 320+64

2013 384 +334 BLM estimated foal-crop @ 87%
Falsely equated it to the herd-growth rate.
Not only implausible generally, but
PZP was still exerting contraceptive
—– effect, would have reduced foal-crop.
718 End-of-year estimate = 384+334
2014 718 +144 BLM estimated foal-crop @ 20%
thus compounding earlier errors.
Falsely equated it to the herd-growth rate.
August 36 Rounded up — “outside”
30 Removed
6 Released
826 Assumed: Still present in HMA
– 2 Subtracted
—–
830 End-of-year estimate = 718+144-30-2
2015 830 Public health and safety excuse used
to justify removing 100 wild horses
without an EA.
February – 101 Number removed — plus 2 horses
said to be “domestic.”
The subject EA states: “Currently there are
approximately 200 head of wild horses that
are within 6 miles of Highway 21. These
horses are continually on the highway in search
of space, forage and water.” EA pdf-page 28
My comments: So, 200 took the place of the
100? Implausible. Wild horses roam. It’s their
nature. That’s why a safety-fence is needed.
—–
729 Adjusted population estimate
2015a 729 146 If BLM estimates foal-crop @ 20%
and falsely equates it to the herd-growth rate.
– 8 Deaths
—–
867 End-of-year estimate = 729+146-8
2016 867 173 If BLM estimates foal-crop @ 20%
and falsely equates it to the herd-growth rate.
—–
1040 Possible pre-gather estimate = 867+173
The discrepancies identified herein cast doubt on the validity of the population-estimates. These errors must be reconciled before any decisions regarding removal-actions are considered.
Not the First Time Population-Estimates Were Found to Be Flawed

In May 2014, I submitted comments regarding the environmental assessment for Bible Spring Complex, which is also under BLM-Cedar City’s jurisdiction. For the three HMAs and the one HA that compose the Complex, major discrepancies were disclosed — one-year growth-rate-estimates of …

125 %
131 %
153 %
157 %
249 %

Thus, the errors uncovered with regard to BLM’s population-estimates for the Sulphur HMA are not isolated instances. Together with those revealed for the Bible Spring Complex, these disparities point to a systemic problem.

Recommendations: BLM needs to correct its mathematical errors and acknowledge those mistakes to the public. Elected officials, local permittees, and ordinary taxpayers need to know that the population-estimates previously announced for the Sulphur HMA were wrong. BLM must take responsibility and inform the public that it portrayed an incorrect picture — an exaggerated picture — of the herd’s population.

Recommendations: Stop the inflammatory rhetoric. For example, the EA warns, ominously: “If horse populations were allowed to continue to double or triple throughout the HMA, wild horses would utilize all of the available AUM’s allocated for other resources.” EA pdf-page 27 Scare tactics have no place in a legitimate EA. Stop the nonsense.
Societal Impact of Inflated Population-Data

The population-estimates for the Sulphur HMA are flawed, exaggerated. The political fallout of this error has been to keep the public — particularly local elected officials and permittees — in an uproar over a false “overpopulation” that BLM’s faulty figures portray.

BLM needs to correct these errors and, more importantly, acknowledge them to the public. You must stop this phony-story-gone-viral of a wild-horse population-explosion in Utah.
County Commissions Pass Resolutions, but Commissioner Goes to Jail

The EA cited the resolutions that local county commissions have reportedly passed, demanding that BLM reduce the herd to AML. However, one of the ringleader-commissioners, Phil Lyman, was recently sentenced to jail after having been convicted of conspiring to operate off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles, and operation of off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles. He and a co-conspirator must pay their share of $96,000 in damage caused and serve 3 years probation.

Federal prosecutor Jared Bennett asked the judge to sentence Lyman to a “limited but reasonable” prison term to promote respect for the law and to deter others from committing the crime. Lyman knew the ride was illegal and he used his political office to recruit others to participate, he said.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865643995/Judge-sentences-San-Juan-Commissioner-Phil-Lyman-to-10-days-jail-3-years-of-probation.html?pg=all
Bogus Data Inflames Local Ranchers and Costs Wild Horses Their Freedom

The EA states that there have been requests over the past two years from land owners adjacent to the Sulphur HMA for removal of wild horses. These requests most surely came from renegade ranchers, such as LaVoy Finicum of Arizona who, inspired by Cliven Bundy, has gone public with his refusal to recognize BLM’s authority, to pay his grazing fees, and to comply with season-of-use. In Nevada, in addition to Cliven Bundy, Kevin Borba and Dan Filippini blatantly defied BLM’s authority; yet they too were pacified with concessions. BLM enables and rewards such bad behavior by caving in to it. There are likely permittees in Utah emulating Bundy, Borba, Filippini, and Finicum.

http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2015/11/01/mgk-finicum-blm-dispute-bundy/#.VjeBkW7ko1c

The EA’s proposed removals of wild horses and pesticide-treatments on the few allowed to remain appear designed to placate the seditious elected officials and their rogue-rancher constituents, who are making a play for taking over the Federal lands in Utah. However, the wild horses must not lose their freedom merely so that BLM can kowtow to rebellious elements in the human population. If you “come clean” and admit your errors, it will tend to deflate the “head-of-steam” that the officials and ranchers are building due to the false appearance created by fictitious figures on herd-growth.
Bundy Brothera and Finicum Lead Armed Takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

Ammon and Ryan Bundy, along with LaVoy Finicum are the “spokesmen” who have commandeered the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Armed for battle, they continue, as of this writing, to occupy. Using Federal vehicles and machinery, they tore down a fence built to keep trespass-livestock out. They come and go as they please, even soliciting snacks and coffee creamer (French Vanilla) from supporters. The situation is out of control. BLM and FBI appear to be kowtowing to the rebels.

Here are excerpts from a news report:

The militants occupying the Refuge asked Harney County ranchers to tear up their leases with the Bureau of Land Management and stop paying the federal government to graze cattle on public land.

“I’ve done it. Cliven Bundy’s done it,” said LaVoy Finicum, an Arizona rancher and the militants’ defacto spokesman. “Now is the day. Now is the time. Are you going to wait for tomorrow? For next week? Next month? Next year? When? When will you stand up if not now?”

Finicum invited the ranchers to cancel their leases with the BLM at a ceremony before the media at the refuge on Saturday. He said two ranchers, one from New Mexico and another from Harney County, are scheduled to void their contracts publicly.

Ryan Bundy went on to emphasize his view that breaking away from the federal government means ranchers wouldn’t have to follow federal laws, like the Endangered Species Act.

LaVoy and the Bundys also acknowledged their proposition is risky. They said any rancher who joined them would get protection from the armed militants ….

http://www.opb.org/news/article/ammon-bundy-oregon-grazing-blm-finicum-crane/
QUESTIONABLE CAWP, FALSE REASSURANCES
CAWP Condones Abuse

The Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) for rounding up wild horses has farcical features. For example, hitting, kicking, striking, and beating a wild horse “in an abusive manner” is prohibited. The guidelines do not define at what point such mistreatment would be deemed “abusive” and, at any rate, there are no consequences identified for violating the prohibition.

Another example: The roundup–helicopter–the CAWP okays the use of helicopters — is not allowed to hit a wild horse. (There is plenty of video-footage showing that such ramming occurs.) If the helicopter hits a wild horse, what to do? The CAWP says: Document it! Again, there are no penalties for such abuse.

Yet another example: The helicopter-pilot must not drive wild horses to the point of exhaustion. The attending veterinarian–if there is one (the CAWP requires one be present but the EA says there “may” be one)–must “check for signs of exhaustion.” And …? And, nothing. Just check. No penalties.

One more example: The CAWP allows electric prods to be used on the horses “no more than three times during a procedure … except in extreme cases with approval ….” Who’s counting? Who is able to supervise properly in the chaotic conditions of a wild-horse roundup? Hotshots are abusive and should never be used. Ever.
BLM Lies about Impact of Abusive Roundup

The EA’s standard wording disinforms the reader that virtually all negative impacts of roundups disappear within hours to several days of when wild horses are released back into the HMA. That is false. Please refer to the report linked below. I recommend BLM add it to the “References” section after studying it and reforming your methods accordingly.

http://thecloudfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/bruce-nock-report-final.pdf
BLM Fails to Address Results of Helicopter Hearing

The EA states:

As required by regulation [43 CFR 4740.1(b)], a public hearing was held in Price, Utah on December 8, 2015 and will be held in subsequent years to discuss the use of helicopters and motorized vehicles in the management of Utah BLM’s wild horses and burros. … Comments received from the Preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) and at those public meetings will be considered and, if applicable, will be addressed in management actions, NEPA documents, and decision documents using the most current direction from the National Wild Horse and Burro Program. EA pdf-page 44

I submitted detailed, substantive comments for the hearing. By now, BLM should have acted upon them and made reforms.
BLM Lies about Foal Weaning

In more standard wording, the EA states: “Nearly all foals that would be gathered would be over four months of age and some would be ready for weaning from their mothers. In private industry, domestic horses are normally weaned between four and six months of age.” EA pdf-page 37

Please note that in “private industry,” foals receive special feed and supplements, and they would be sheltered from the elements. In the wild, foals nurse for many months longer than in domestic settings, where the profit-motive leads breeders to wean early — a traumatic event for both foals and their dams.
Increased Foaling Rates?

BLM claims to need to reduce the wild-horse population. Yet the EA states: “Achieving the AML and improving the overall health and fitness of wild horses could also increase foaling and foaling survival rates over the current conditions.” EA pdf-page 36 This is an example of BLM’s eagerness to justify the unjustifiable. But in so doing, BLM belies its own contentions.
BLM Lies about Population Growth

In looking for every reason not to adopt any alternative but the proposed one, BLM insists repeatedly that unless mass-removals and PZP treatments are conducted, “… wild horse populations may increase at a faster rate and exceed the high end of the AML ….” EA pdf-page 38 However, that contradicts the WinEquus population-projections, which show a higher median-trial population for the proposed action.
BLM Lies about PZP Safety

The EA claims PZP injections would not affect unborn foals. That is false.

Sacco et al. reported that, per radioimmunoassay, PZP antibodies are transferred from mother to young via the placenta and milk. The transferred antibodies cross-react with and bind to the zonae pellucidae of female offspring, as demonstrated by immunofluorescent techniques. These findings were disclosed in 1981. Yet, PZP is regularly administered to pregnant and lactating mares, who transfer the destructive antibodies to their fetus, via the placenta, and to their foal, via mother’s milk.

If mares are injected with PZP while pregnant or nursing, these fillies will already have PZP antibodies cross-reacted with and bound to their zonae. Therefore, when such fillies are injected as yearlings, it will be their second treatment, or potentially even their third. In fact, they could already have been sterilized in utero or while nursing.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7328557
BLM Lies about Gender Ratio

The EA warns that gender-ratios could become lopsided if the proposed action were not taken: “Near normal populations exhibit a 1:1 sex ratio. Population shifts favoring males could occur as males are better adapted to compete for resources during changing environmental conditions.” EA pdf-page 41

But BLM also advises that, for the WinEquus population-modeling trials, one of the assumptions employed was: “Sex ratio at birth: 58% males.” EA pdf-page 90 Further, I note that following the 2008 gather, 12 females and 17 males were returned to the range, giving males a 59:41 percent advantage to the males. Finally, bachelor-stallions are more successful in escaping from helicopter-roundups. They have no mares and foals to protect. So, the roundup-method itself creates a post-gather herd skewed to more males than females.
BLM Uses Obsolete Range Assessment Technique

The EA states that the “Key Forage” method was used to evaluate range-conditions. The full title of that approach is the “Key Forage Plant” (KFP) method. However, KFP is obsolete, having been replaced by the Landscape Appearance method as far back as 1996. Moreover, per Technical Reference 1734-7, Ecological Site Inventory, such qualitative assessments “may result in reduced accuracy, limiting use of the data.” If for only this reason, I cannot rely on the EA’s representations regarding conditions in the Sulphur HMA.
BLM Lies about Year-Round Wild-Horse Presence

The EA states that wild horses do more damage because they are present year-round as opposed to livestock, which supposedly are not. However, inspection of the Active-Use chart EA pdf-page 20 reveals that nearly 49% of the livestock allotments are used year-round, and 67% are used 8-to-12 months. Further, actual-use is whatever the permit-holders self-report. Going back to the rogue ranchers in open rebellion against BLM, it is likely that real use is much higher than “actual.”
BLM Hauls Water but Fails to Install Guzzlers

BLM states that water is the limiting factor for wild-horse populations, and claims to have hauled 160,000 galllons of water into the HMA last summer for the wild horses. EA pdf-page 20 What this points to is the need for guzzlers — trick-tanks — to capture and store whatever precipitation there is.
BLM Falsely Blames Wild Horses for Damage to Riparian Areas

In its zeal to condemn the wild horses, BLM lumps wild horses in with livestock as responsible for damage to riparian areas. Yet, the EA also notes that it “is not the nature of wild horses to rest exceedingly at water sources.” EA pdf-page 53 Stop the false accusations. Your bias is showing.
BLM Plans to Use Barbed Wire for Safety Fence

Horses and barbed wire do not mix. Yet, the EA states that barbed wire will be used for the fence along Highway 21. That is not good enough. You need to use appropriate materials that pose less risk of injuring the horses.

Here are some links to information on the various types of fences and their price-ranges. Note: I have no connection whatsoever with any of these groups.

http://horseandrider.com/article/field-guide-to-horse-fences-13317

http://www.progressivecattle.com/topics/facilities-equipment/4793-building-fence-a-yearly-job-on-every-ranch

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/livestock/html/b1-75.html

http://www.rammfence.com/fence/coated-wire-fence/coated-wire-fence-rolls/high-impact-raceline-coated-wire.html
BLM Notes Interior Fences Block Wild Horses

The EA admits, without further explanation: “Construction of fences within Sulphur HMA boundaries could inhibit the free-roaming nature of wild horses.” EA pdf-page 42 It is time to remove interior fences, not to install more. This matter needs to be resolved.
Finally, Some Truth-Telling

It was refreshing to encounter at least some truthfulness in the EA:

At the turn of the century, large herds of livestock grazed on unreserved public domain in uncontrolled open range. Eventually, the range was stocked beyond its capacity, causing changes in plant, soil and water relationships. Some speculate that the changes were permanent and irreversible, turning plant communities from grass and herbaceous species to brush and trees. EA pdf-page 43

BLM needs to stick to the facts and cease blaming wild horses for what livestock already did.
——————————————-

Please consider these substantive comments and new information — new to BLM — and make the necessary course-corrections and reforms.
Sincerely,

Marybeth Devlin