The explosion of wild horses on western rangelands is ruining the resource; please read on to understand why this is an issue of Absolute Urgency.
The N-4 State Grazing Board (N-4) is a subdivision of the State of Nevada organized under N.R.S. 568 Grazing and Ranging; it represents 130 ranching families in eastern Nevada. N-4 recently commissioned a study of the economic impacts of too many wild horses on the ranches in Lincoln and White Pine counties. Please find that study and a Solutions paper on either of these two websites: www.lincolncountynv.org (click on Science and Solutions to the Wild Horse Problem) or www.rci-nv.com (click on the wild horse picture on the bottom of the page.)
In short, these local economies take a $15.2 Million dollar hit in grazing permit value; plus a $10 Million dollar reduction in annual production to impacted ranches; AND loss of economic activity in this region estimated at another $3.5 Million every year. That affects our schools, roads, all services. In just these two eastern Nevada counties, there are at least 9,382 horses, a number that is at least 434 Percent OVER the Appropriate Management Level.
Maggie Orr attended the National Wild Horse and Burro Summit in Salt Lake City August 24 as president of Nevada Association of Conservation Districts. The Summit did an excellent job of presenting the impossible situation we face on the western rangelands, both public and private because we all know horses and burros don’t necessarily stay where we have arbitrarily named Herd Management Areas.
Most of the presentations from the Summit, as well as other helpful information, are available on the National Wild Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition website at http://www.wildhorserange.org/summit-presentations.html. Other information from the Summit is available at https://nationalhorseandburrosummit.org/. The BLM has information on their website too. Please take the time to inform yourselves and see the harm to our rangeland resources as well as those dependent on them: wildlife, ranching enterprises, local communities, and the horses and burros themselves. There are photos that will break your heart.
HOWEVER, in light of IMMEDIATE action needed, we give a brief summary of the facts:
• BLM estimates Appropriate Management Level on our western rangelands to be 26,500; there are now more than 73,000 horses and burros on the range and that count was before this year’s foal crop.
• Wild horse populations grow 20% per year; they have no natural predators. The population doubles every four to five years. That means 146,000+ animals by 2021.
• In addition to the 46,000+ excess horses and burros on our rangelands, there are an additional 47,000 horses and burros being held in corrals and off-range holding pastures, often in the Midwest. These horses cost taxpayers over $50 million each year. Think of what could be done with that money.
• Adoptions have slowed to about 3000 per year; the annual foal crop exceeds that by far. BLM cannot gather and remove horses and burros from the range because they have no place left in holding to put them according to the budget they have from Congress.
The National Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 allow for multiple management options: adoption, sale, sterilization, and humane euthanasia. Congress has not allowed the BLM to utilize sale or euthanasia for many years by not appropriating funding to do so. In July, the House Appropriations Committee voted to remove language from the Interior Department’s budget that would have prohibited “the destruction of healthy, unadopted wild horses and burros in the care of” the Bureau of Land Management or its contractors. We need to support this Stewart Amendment.
It is URGENT THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and SENATORS Right Now! A dangerous bi-partisan amendment was just defeated by the House of Representatives Rules Committee. Co-sponsors were: Titus (NV), King (NY), Polis (CO), Curbelo (FL), and Grisham (NM). It sought to strip the Stewart Amendment which was a huge achievement to pass in Committee and continue to prevent BLM from utilizing euthanasia to reduce the numbers of horses in holding or on our rangelands. The Appropriations Bill will be voted on in both the House and Senate in September. Please contact your Representatives and Senators to explain the dire situation the horses and rangelands are in and ask your elected officials to take actions to solve this destructive problem.
This is not an easy subject. We don’t write this letter or make this request lightly. It is a horrible prospect before us all, to deal with the excess numbers of horses so we can protect our natural resources. Sterilization and adoption will become management tools again in the future after we have gotten the numbers down to Appropriate Management Level. Until then, we must do the hard thing, Congress must authorize direct sales and humane euthanasia of the excess wild horses and burros. We are in this position because the can has been kicked down the road for decades. We cannot continue on the path we are on; we risk everything…we risk the health of the horses themselves! We must take the approach of “Healthy Herds on Healthy Rangelands.” To do less will continue to kick the can down the road.
We offer you a perspective that we hope will help you make this difficult commitment to work for “Healthy Herds on Healthy Rangelands.” Ben Masters, creator of the film, “Unbranded,” and member of the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, spoke of his experiences at the Summit. He said, “History will not remember lethal management well; we will be demonized and torn apart in the history books. And that hurts. But history isn’t just written in books – history is written on our lands. When you look at a landscape, it says who we were, who we are, and who we are going to become. Are we going to have sage grouse and healthy soils that we pass on to our children and grandchildren?” As Dr. Barry Perryman said in his summary statement at the Summit, “The horses and the BLM are not the adversary, irresponsibility is.”
This is hard, this is not pleasant, this is the right thing to do. We ask that you contact your Representatives and Senators and tell your friends and relatives, particularly any that live in the East. Congress is the problem; Congress’ mind must be changed on this issue. Wild Horse Annie worked tirelessly for passage of the 1971 Act to protect healthy horses; we must do the same. We want our grandchildren to experience the beauty and resources that are Nevada; We know you want yours too as well. Please contact Congress and tell them they must act to allow BLM all the tools in the 1971 Act.
Gracian Uhalde, Chair, N-4 State Grazing Board