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I am just getting back from the trap after the first day of the North Lander roundup in Wyoming. Over 300 wild horses lost everything today: family and freedom. 

It is the same old song from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM): “The horses are overpopulated and destroying the range.”

For decades, BLM has limited “wild horse management” to doing assessments for removals and other population growth suppression methods, not management. BLM has never proven that removing wild horses or burros achieves the “thriving natural ecological balance” they claim is their objective. 

BLM removes horses and burros and allows increases in livestock, mining, green energy, etc. The range spirals downward as BLM destroys natural herd dynamics and leaves genetically stunted herds on the range as they push numbers down to absurd levels. BLM never has any plan to do water improvements, take down miles and miles of fencing or limit industry on habitat critical for the survival of our wild ones. 

Earlier this year, groundbreaking litigation (RAN, AWA and WHE) opened the door to (finally) allow public input on management of wild horses and burros. Management involves a lot more than “move ‘em into trap, move ‘em out.” 

Major ground was broken to obtain the type of transparency and analysis of herd and habitat management implied by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. For the very first time, the courts recognized that planning designed for population growth suppression (gather/fertility control Environmental Assessments) are not assessments for management of a herd. 

BLM defines Herd Management Area Plans (HMAPs) this way: “HMAPs summarize the management goals for an HMA and the anticipated actions required to achieve those goals.”  

Creation of HMAPs starts with something called “scoping.” Scoping is your chance to speak out for what you want. Really, this is the fighting ground advocacy has waited decades for. In scoping you state something BLM should analyze for monitoring and management. Does a herd have a unique genetic component you want to see protected? Has BLM fenced off horses or burros from water or given that water to some other interest and a well needs to go in? Should BLM be identifying when foaling season actually happens to protect babies from roundups? You can ask for anything.

At the Pancake Complex, scoping is now open and comments are due July 15. Please, make your voice heard. 

The best way to get involved is always by crafting your own comments and submitting them directly to BLM. You can find the scoping documents and information on where to email your comments on BLM’s website

If you do not have time, you can use the fast click:

Pancake is a beautiful place. However, BLM has approved more mining and expanded livestock ranges by creating water improvement just for the cows and sheep. As mining expands, the sage grouse, badger, pronghorn, deer and elk are disappearing. However, wild horses and burros are the only large wild grazing animals that cannot leave the area or it is considered “in trespass” and removed. 

Pancake would be a great place for BLM to take the building blocks of rewilding and take an integrated approach that protect multiple species, limits industry and heals the landscape. 

Rewilding America Now is working hard to bring new tools to the table. 

The future could be much brighter, greener and safer for wild things. We are fighting hard to “get it in the plan.” 

Stay tuned…

Laura Leigh, RAN Wild Horse and Legal Affairs Advisor

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