This is a surprisingly good editorial from the Elko Daily News, which covers news for an area rightly known "ground zero" for the wild horse controversy.
The newspaper writes, "One thing the various parties can agree on is that this is truly a time of tragedy for these noble creatures that enabled man to tame the West. Whether you believe horses lived here prior to the arrival of pioneers or that they are nothing but the feral remnants of early ranching, the horse is still a timeless symbol of man’s relationship with nature."
The editorial calls for a place for wild horses in balance with sustainable balance with the environment, which is what we all want to see. AWHPC will be present at the advisory board today in Elko. We'll be calling for the Board to recommend to the BLM that it address three fundamental areas:
- Management practices must change. The National Academy of Sciences found that BLM's management practices (constant cycle of roundups and removals) were fueling high population growth rates on the range and increasing the number of horses removed to holding facilities. The agency must shift from this cruel and fiscally unsustainable approach to humane management on the range using the proven PZP fertility control vaccine, where necessary, to reduce population growth rates.
- "Appropriate" Management Levels (AMLs) are not scientific OR appropriate and must be increased. The NAS "could not identify a science-based rationale" for the BLM's AMLs, concluding: "How Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) 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." The BLM's national AML of just over 26,000 wild horses and burros freezes populations at the level that existed in 1971 when Congress determined that wild horses and burros were "fast disappearing" and in need of protection. The AMLs need to be raised to accommodate larger, more genetically sustainable wild horse and burro populations.
- Livestock grazing must be reduced in wild horse and burro habitat areas. Wild horses and burros are present on just 17 percent of BLM land that is grazed by livestock. The BLM allocates over three quarters of available forage resources to privately-owned livestock instead of federally-protected wild horses and burros. Wild horses and burros must receive a fairer share of resources on the small amount of land that as their habitat. The BLM and Congress should explore ways to compensate ranchers for non-use, reduced use or permanent retirement of grazing permits in wild horse and burro habitat areas. This will be far more cost-effective to the American taxpayer than the continued roundup and removal of wild horses and burros from their homes on the range.