Science and Wild Horse Herd Counts and BLM Are Not Friends – Never Have Been

08 Apr


Research and Written by John Cox, Cascade Mountains

“When action is divorced from consequences, no one is happy with the ultimate outcome. If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to be a free rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty and will not be refilled — a bad situation even for the earlier takers.”

When we, as research people, start perusing aspects of the Wild Horse Herd counts on Public Lands, and how these same horse herds interact with their environment, we discover rather quickly, two significant situations:

1. The Bureau of Land Management is stuck in a conundrum of lies — the problem being — that this government agency can no longer, or for quite sometime now, tell the truth — as the truth would indeed not set them free, but rather would place into question their last 40 years of lies, committing fraud for large budgets using taxpayer money, and the use of false information to base premier and costly decisions upon, especially when it has got to do with the Wild Horse and Burro Program;

2. The BLM or the DOI will admit that the Wild Horses are indeed native to North America, and if so declared will give them Endangered Species Status immediately, as well as protect them from our own government, to include the DOI and BLM –

FACT: The BLM, Welfare Rancher’s, and the WH&B Program Create Problems

It is not a hidden situation, the ongoing destruction of America’s Public Lands by the Bureau of Land Management, Welfare Rancher’s, and corporations. Their attempts at resolution toward problems very amateurish at best – and obtaining wayward amateur results at best, while our Public Lands and America’s Wildlife is being destroyed. The result below, of obscure decisions based on false information exemplified below:

Mary Ann Simonds, horse herd researcher and observer states, “Conducting interviews with ranchers in Wyoming and discussing wild horse management, led me to produce recommendations to the BLM for the management of wild horses. The local ranchers had been managing the herds for the most part in Wyoming with minimal impact on the culture and behavior of the various herds.  Young bachelor stallions were culled when they came down to the ranches trying to recruit mares. Hence, the herd dynamics allowed for a stable population with long term pair bonding between alpha males and females.”

“Reproductive rates in 1975 in the herds studies were estimated between 4-5 percent. By 1979-80 these same herds, after BLM gate cuts were implemented were estimated at 10 -12 percent. This increase in reproductive rates most likely was due to the fact that stable pairs of alpha females and males had been removed leaving many mares open for recruitment from bachelor stallions previously not allowed into the herd.”

From my previous observations I can concur with her information she has published on her Internet site. More interesting, and concur with her once again, is the facts she states about Grazing and Feed on Public Lands, etc.

Horse Diets – “Between 1973 – 1976, I conducted range and wildlife research on wild horses in Wyoming while receiving my undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a minor in Range Management studying wild equids at the University of Wyoming. My range research on diets of wild horses was used in the original National Academy of Sciences report to Congress and the BLM. However, it was not used accurately as the report stated a “significant overlap” of wild horse diets with cattle diets, when in fact the researched showed out of 14 habitats, only 5 had overlapping species eaten by both horses and cattle,” states Mary Ann Simonds


The oxymoron combination of Science combined with the Bureau of Land Management is sad but true – BLM has no Range Land Science qualified to make Public Lands decision within an appropriate manner.

“Lack of scientific management of wild horses as an endemic species and the continual efforts to convince the public that horses need to be removed from their native range, has lead to widespread controversy for over 40 years. Blamed for range degradation and over population, wild horses have been the brunt of human manipulation. Had the population of horses been managed according to good behavioral models for wildlife management back in 1972, North America would still have functional, sustainable, and culturally diverse herds of wild horses,” (i.e. National Research Council. Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013).

Another list, yes, of inappropriate behavior by the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Interior – and both agencies simply ignored these scientists and their outcome, at a cost to taxpayers in excess of a $Million Dollars – Yip, we got tagged with the cost of yet another BLM catastrophy, fellow American’s!

1. Management of free-ranging horses and burros is not based on rigorous population-monitoring procedures. At the time of the committee’s review, most Herd Management Areas did not use inventory methods or statistical tools common to modern wildlife management. Survey methods used to count animals were often inconsistent and poorly documented and did not quantify the uncertainty attached to counts;

2. On the basis of information provided to the committee, the statistics on the national population size cannot be considered scientifically rigorous. The links between BLM’s estimates of the national population size and its actual population surveys – the data that underlie these estimates – are obscure. The procedures used to develop population estimates for the Herd Management Areas from counts of animals are not standardized and frequently not documented. It seems that the national statistics are the product of hundreds of subjective, probably independent judgments and assumptions by range personnel about the proportion of animals counted during surveys, population growth rates, and other factors. As a result BLM’s reported annual population statistics, which are based on the assumption that all animals are detected and counted, probably underestimate the actual number of animals on the range;

3. Management practices are facilitating high rates of population growth. Free-ranging horse populations are growing at high rates because BLM’s removals hold populations below levels affected by food limits. If population density were to increase to the point that there was not enough forage available, it could result in fewer pregnancies and births and lower young-to-female ratios and survival rates. Decreased competition for forage through removals may instead allow population growth, which then drives the need to remove more animals;

4. It is unclear whether or how the results of the WinEquus model are used in management decisions, and the input parameters are not transparent. BLM currently includes the results of WinEquus, a program that simulates how horse populations would change with management actions, in its gather plans and environmental assessments. However, WinEquus results depend on the values of input parameters – for example, age-specific foaling rates or the sex and the age composition of a herd – and various management options selected by the user when setting up the simulations. These parameters were rarely provided in gather plans and environmental assessments. In addition, in most of the reviewed documents, there was no explanation or interpretation of WinEquus output, making it difficult to determine if results were used to make management decisions or were offered as justification for decisions that were made independently;

5. The Wild Horses and Burros Management Handbook lacks specificity. Issued by BLM in 2010, the handbook provides some degree of consistency in goals, allocation of forage, and general habitat considerations. Currently the handbook lacks the specificity needed to adequately guide managers on establishing and adjusting Appropriate Management Levels – the number of horses and burros BLM deems appropriate for a given Herd Management Area . It does not provide sufficient detail on how to conduct various kinds of assessments. In addition, the handbook does not clarify the important legal definitions related to implementing and assessing management strategies for free-ranging horses and burros, leaving these concepts uninformed by science and open to multiple interpretations;

6. How Appropriate Management Levels are established, monitored, and adjusted is not transparent to stakeholders, supported by scientific information, or amenable to adaptation with new information and environmental and social change. Appropriate Management Levels are a focal point of controversy between BLM and the public. Standards for transparency, quality, and equity are needed in establishing these levels, monitoring them, and adjusting them. The public should be able to understand the methods used and how they are implemented, and to access the data used to make decisions. In addition, data and methods used to inform decisions must be scientifically defensible. Appropriate Management Levels must be adaptable based on environmental change, changes in social values, or the discovery of new information:

7. Resolving conflicts with polarized values and opinions regarding land management rests on principles of transparency and public participation in decision making. Participatory decision-making processes foster the development of a shared understanding of the ecosystem, an appreciation for others’ viewpoints, and the development of good working relationships. Thus, BLM should develop an iterative process between public deliberation and scientific research and co-design the participatory process with representatives of the public.

Note: This list referenced from – National Research Council. Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2013.


We find (the taxpayers in America) that the Bureau of Land Management is not suited for, nor has been appropriate managers of our Public Lands. Incompetence and inappropriate behavior (also criminal behavior on numerous occasions) remains more of a mainstay within the BLM, than completed and resolving issues upon our Public Lands.

It is also obvious to many taxpayers, that misinformation, lies, and false Environmental Impact Statements, easy to detect, generates nothing more than animosity toward the BLM and their contractors. Ignoring of a $$$ Million Dollar science study to improve the management criteria of America’s Public Lands, by the BLM, demonstrates beyond all doubt, the arrogance of the BLM staff and employees on a domestic basis!

Our Public Lands is being devastated by such inappropriate management, and it is time for our representatives, our legislators, to discontinue this inappropriate mess the BLM has gotten our Public Lands into currently. Disbanding the BLM, and downsizing the Department of the Interior is first and foremost on many American taxpayer’s mind — as both agencies remain inadequate to manage America’s treasures. . .


Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Science and Wild Horse Herd Counts and BLM Are Not Friends – Never Have Been

  1. EponaSpirit

    April 9, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Reblogged this on Pass the SAFE Act!.

  2. Louie C

    April 11, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Ginger Kathrens is doing a special 1 hour radio show tonight to update advocates on the wild horses that the BLM sold directly to an auction house, which would not sell the horses to Ginger, but sold them directly to a Canadian slaughterhouse’s (Beauvry) feedlot ranch. Also, an update on the Iron County Commissioners (Utah) inciting private ranchers to illegally roundup wild horses.
    Times for this FRIDAY night show are:
    6:00 pm PST … 7:00 pm MST … 8:00 pm CST … 9:00 pm EST
    Listen Live Here!

    Call in # 917-388-4520

    This is a special ONE HOUR show, and you can call in with questions any time during the show.
    The shows will be archived, so you can listen anytime.

    Tonight’s guest is Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. On March 24, The Cloud Foundation received an anonymous tip that BLM had rounded up and removed 41 free-roaming horses from public lands in northern Wyoming. Further investigation revealed that BLM conducted a helicopter roundup of the horses and turned them over to the Wyoming Livestock Board who sold the horses directly to the Canadian Bouvry Slaughterouse. The taxpayer-funded roundup was conducted with no notice of sale after the horses were impounded, giving no one the opportunity to step in and negotiate a deal to purchase any of the horses. Even Bighorn County Sheriff, Kenneth Blackburn, was surprised that he received no notification of the roundup, which was conducted in his jurisdiction. The horses were driven to Shelby, Montana, to the Bouvry-owned feedlot, the jumping off point to their Canadian slaughterhouse, the largest slaughterhouse in Canada.

    All but four foals were sold to a Canadian slaughterhouse. The foals were purchased from Worland Livestock Auction by Kim Michels. The Cloud Foundation transported these foals, all between 3 and 12 weeks old, to Colorado where they are now under the expert care of Dr. Lisa Jacobson, DVM. They require special nutrition and socialization as they acclimate to their new environment.
    The foals, known as the Dry Creek Quartet, are (Pictures)


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