This is tremendous news.
When the BLM released its original decision record for the Little Colorado and White Mountain Herd Areas in June, the alternative chosen by the BLM for managing these two herds was alternative D, rounding up all the horses in both areas and spaying all the mares and gelding all the stallions that were to be returned to the range, creating a sterile, non-producing herd that would eventually die out entirely. After a tremendous public outcry, the Rock Springs Field Office of the BLM backed down and said spaying the mares was off the table for these two herds. But they still planned to geld all the stallions released.
In a tremendous reversal, in the face of a lawsuit, the BLM backs down again and says that they will not be gelding the stallions released in both the Little Colorado and White Mountain Herd Areas. The roundup will begin approximately September 1 and a new decision record has been released: http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/news_room/2011/august/05rsfo-wmlc.html
The alternative announced is alternative A which includes using birth control on the mares released and skewing the sex ratio of the herd to 60% stallions to 40% mares:
“The decision authorizes gathering approximately 90 percent (or about 873 wild horses), removing roughly 696 excess wild horses, leaving 205 wild horses in the White Mountain HMA, and 69 wild horses in the Little Colorado HMA. All mares released to the HMAs would be treated with the Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) vaccine. Sex ratios would also be adjusted favoring stallions to mares. The gather would reduce the current population of nearly 1,000 wild horses in the WMLC HMAs, which is roughly three times the appropriate management level. The appropriate management level for White Mountain HMA is between 205-300 horses, and for Little Colorado HMA is 69-100. The two HMAs were last gathered in November 2007.”
Here is the press release by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign:
Environmental Groups Challenged Interior Department’s Plan to Manage Wild Horses to Extinction
For Immediate Release…Washington, DC (August 2, 2011) . . . This morning, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced that it was withdrawing a controversial and unscientific plan to castrate free-roaming wild stallions and convert two viable wild horse populations in the White Mountain and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in southwestern Wyoming to “minimally-reproducing” herds comprised primarily of geldings.
The announcement was made during a status conference call today on a lawsuit against the plan, which was filed on July 25, 2011 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the public interest law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal on behalf of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, the Western Watersheds Project a local Wyoming couple and wildlife photographer Carol Walker.
“By galloping ahead with this destructive plan, the BLM ignored over 10,000 public comments and the opinion of experts who warned of the irreparable harm that would be inflicted on these wild horse populations, but the agency could not ignore a federal lawsuit,” said Suzanne Roy, Campaign Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.
Under the proposed action, the BLM would have rounded up every horse that it could find in the two HMAs – or an estimated 900 mustangs, permanently removing 723 of them and returning just 177 castrated stallions to the range.
“The BLM’s plan to sterilize wild Wyoming mustangs made clear the agency’s intent to manage wild horses to extinction, in flagrant violation of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act,” Roy continued. “It’s a shame that citizens must turn to the courts to force this agency to respect and uphold federal law.”
Plaintiff Carol Walker, author of Wild Hoofbeats; America’s Vanishing Wild Horses, stated, “The plans that the BLM had in the works to geld stallions and release them back onto the range, creating sterilized, non-reproducing herds would surely spell the end of America’s wild horses. The BLM’s change in plans means that, for now, sterilized herds are not on the table, and that public opposition to this devastating direction for the BLM will not be denied.”
Roy indicated that the plaintiffs would now consider their options for further action once the BLM issues a new decision record, a move that is expected by the end of the week. It will be the fourth action proposed by the BLM’s Rock Springs Field Office for these HMAs and the third decision record issued for this roundup plan. The agency has agreed to postpone any roundup activity until September 1 or later. The roundup had been scheduled to begin on August 16.
Last week, scientists and other experts filed declarations detailing the harmful impacts the proposed action would have on the individual horses, the wild horse herds and the environment in the White Mountain and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas. The declarations were attached to the plaintiffs motion for a Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order.
For background on the legal action, including news coverage, new releases and copies of the complaint, please visit the AWHPC website here.
AWHPC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. AWHPC’s grassroots efforts are supported by a coalition of over forty historic preservation, conservation, horse advocacy and animal welfare organizations.
Western Watersheds Project (WWP) is a 501c3 group that is devoted to protection of public lands, values, watersheds and wildlife in the American West. WWP has over 1200 members, many of whom recreate on portions of these lands and enjoy their scenic beauty, wildlife and other attributes.