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Stop the Adobe Town Roundup and Radio Collar Study

By on May 3, 2016

The Bureau of Land Management has announced plans to round up and remove wild horses from the Adobe Town Herd Management Area in the Red Desert of Wyoming. This roundup is in addition to the BLM’s proposed roundup of 500 wild horses from the Checkerboard portions of the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek and Great Divide Basin Herd Management Areas.

In the flyover subsidized by the Rock Springs Grazing Association in April 2015, which conveniently did not include photographs because “the survey lead indicated his reluctance to use photography, as it requires additional circling around groups that could cause air sickness”, there were reported to be 858 wild horses. Somehow the population in Adobe Town jumped from 519 wild horses in October 2014 after the Checkerboard Roundup to in April 2015, 858 wild horses, no doubt the result of every mare and stallion on the range giving birth. Although the dubious count of 858 is only 58 more wild horses than the 610-800 Appropriate Management Level allows, the BLM is determined to do a roundup because of pressure from the powerful Rock Springs Grazing Association.  The members of that organization view the public land in Wyoming as its own private domain. They receive millions of dollars in subsidies from our government for grazing their livestock on our public lands. They would like to see all of the wild horses removed from the area. The BLM has not said how many horses it plans to remove, but the usual practice is to remove down to the low side of AML, so at least 258 wild horses will lose their homes and their freedom.

Scoping Document Details can be found here: http://bit.ly/AdobeTownGather.

In addition to this, the BLM is proposing to do a “research study” where they will put radio collars on 15-40 wild mares that have been rounded up and separated from their families. They will return the mares to the range to study “habitat selection, seasonal use and movement between habitats, and migration patterns with and outside of the HMA.”

The research will be done with the University of Wyoming and “an animal care and use protocol for collaring would be submitted to the University of Wyoming Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee for review by a panel of veterinarians and animal welfare officials.”

Radio collaring is a very dangerous practice for wild horses. In the past, wild horses have been seriously injured, suffered and died because of collars becoming too tight, and getting hung up on fences and brush. They are not considering doing this to the stallions but apparently it is acceptable to use risky and life-threatening procedures on wild mares. If they really want to study behavior of wild mares, do not round them up and remove them from their families – this will completely disrupt the social bonds of the wild horses as well as their behavior. A real research study would study wild horses as they are now found. Hire some interns to go out and actually observe the horses in the wild. If you must use a tracking device, use the tags that you are planning to use with the stallions, not the dangerous and life threatening radio collars. If it is so hard to find and track the horses in this area, then there is no way you will be able to find and help alleviate the suffering of any wild mare who is in trouble with her collar.

This “radio collar research” is clearly a precursor to what the BLM has planned to do with the White Mountain Herd in Wyoming this year – round them up and study them with radio collars for a year, then spay the mares in the field and continue to study them with radio collars the next year. Perhaps the BLM thinks that by not including the part about their ultimate goal being the cruel and dangerous spaying of wild mares in the field that they will have less controversy for this Environmental Assessment.

There is no overpopulation of wild horses in Adobe Town. Stop the BLM from rounding up the Adobe Town wild horses and stop them from conducting dangerous and life-threatening “radio collar research” on wild mares. Tell them to conduct a study with observers in the field without a roundup. And tell them to stop livestock grazing in wild horse herd management areas.

Regarding conflicts between livestock grazing and wild horse use of lands in Wild Horse Management Areas:

  • 4710.5 Closure to livestock grazing.

(a) If necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury, the authorized officer may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock.

(b) All public lands inhabited by wild horses or burros shall be closed to grazing under permit or lease by domestic horses and burros.

(c) Closure may be temporary or permanent. After appropriate public consultation, a Notice of Closure shall be issued to affected and interested parties.

Please send your comments by email and by mail by May 6. If you really want to help the horses, please send individual emails and letters using your own words – the form emails are all only counted as 1 by the BLM. Feel free to use any information from this post.

Written comments should be received by May 6, 2016, and should be emailed only to blm_wy_adobetown_hma@blm.gov (please include “Adobe Town Scoping Statement Comments” in the subject line), mailed or hand-delivered during regular business hours (7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) to: Wild Horse and Burro Specialist, BLM Rawlins Field Office, 1300 North 3rd Street, Rawlins, WY 82301. Fax: 307-324-4224.

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