As a general rule, it is a very big mistake for me to start running my mouth off online when I am overly emotional. The problem with that is that we are only 1/3 of the way into an emotional year that feels like it is just going to keep building and building until everything spirals out of control. When you are faced with such a time, it seems logical to get it all out in the open while you still have the chance.
Because the fact of the matter is, we were snookered folks. And the most ridiculous part, is that we were conned by the same people that con us over and over again without remorse. It’s almost like an abusive relationship. You tell yourself that this time it will be different, things will get better.
Spoiler Alert: IT NEVER DOES
A couple months ago I made an offhand comment in a blog that the BLM’s new proposed EA for the Pryor Mountains made it possible for them to only allow one offspring per mare on the range. I quickly brushed that aside by saying that I did not think that was the BLM’s intentions, only that it would be possible. Well, guess what? It turns out that is exactly what they intend to do, and it probably was what they wanted right from the get go.
Today the Billing’s field office released a scoping notice (link here) to explain their intentions to remove 30 horses aged 1-3 from the Pryor Mountain horse herd. The comments on this are due by 4:30 p.m. MST on Friday, April 24, 2015.
And the truth is that I feel helpless, and even a little hopeless. I’ve been spending the past year with a constant knot in my gut over White Mountain and what is planned for that herd, and it just feels like too much. There is not much that I can do, and I know that. But at the very least, I can do what I am good at and help break this down for everybody.
Currently there are 49 horses that fall under the 1-3 year old category… maybe. This number is assuming all of the 2014 foals survived. It is a little bit questionable, especially in the case of one particular mare/foal pair, but we need a starting point.
If thirty horses were removed, this would account for 61% of the horses in that age range. So how would the BLM choose the unlucky thirty?
For this we go back to the Environmental Assessment. Under the new rules, a mare is put back on infertility control (PZP) so long as she has one offspring over the age of one year that is alive and in the wild. The BLM specifically notes that they are allowed to remove all a mare’s offspring, save one.
So in other words, the goal of this roundup is to take as many mares as possible down to one offspring. This will let the BLM put that mare back on PZP for good, and there will be nothing we can do to stop it because that is how they wrote the rules.
There are a few problems with this. First of all, the BLM cannot remove 30 horses without breaking their own rules. If they took thirty, three mares would be left with zero offspring on the range. As it is, taking 27 horses would leave 26 mares with one and only one offspring left in the wild.
Don’t believe me? Let’s drill down by splitting the 1-3 year olds into three categories.
We will start with the horses who have a sibling/half-sibling that is 4 years or older. The older sibling is safe from removal. In order to hit the BLM’s proposed number, every single horse in this category would have to be removed. In parentheses is the name of the horses dam and the offspring that could not be removed.
Horses With at Least 1 Sibling 4+ Years Old
Mato (Cecelia – Inniq)
Mesa (Cedar– Jewel, Lobo)
Navigator (Felicity – Ingrid)
Moenkopi, Nye (Galena – Jack)
Meriweather (Madonna – Gringo, Lariat)
Marlene, Norma Jean, Orlando (Greta – Johan)
Mato Ska, Encore, Onhanzee (Feldspar – Jasper)
Moorcroft (Brumby – Gabrielle)
Nina (Bakken – Issaquah, Chief Joseph)
Norte, Orion (Waif – Blizzard, Halo, Icara, Jewel)
Nahwa, Ojai (Washakie – Morning Star, Sequoyah, Bacardi)
Oregon (Sacajawea – Bakken, Fiero, Hidatsa, Kemmerer)
So in this group, all 19 horses would have to be removed, leaving 6 of the 12 mares with only one offspring on the range.
Of particular note in the group is Navigator, Custer’s only still wild offspring. It is very unlikely that this will matter one whit to the BLM, since the EA only cares about the mares representation, and not the stallions.
I would also point out the challenges of taking all three of Greta’s offspring. Johan is quite the horse, but he lives in the stallion heavy Dryhead, where mares are few and far between and competition is fierce. The BLM taking even more Dryhead mares will not help this.
In the next group we will look at horses whose existing wild lines all fall within the 1-3 year old range. In this group, the BLM could take all but one offspring per mare on the list.
Horses who have siblings in the 1-3 range
Morgana, Ogalala (Icara)
Montana, Oak (Fresia)
McKeahnie, Naara (Gabrielle)
Miguel, Nomad, Olivia (Halcyon)
Maelstrom, Niobrara, Okomi (Firestorm)
Naolin, Odakota (Graciana)
Navajo, Outlaw (Hopi)
So in this group, 8 horses out of 14 would be removed. All 7 mares would be left with exactly one offspring left in the wild over the age of one. That is, they all would go back on PZP.
This brings the total number of horses to 27, the number I listed earlier. As you can see, removing 27 is extreme. Too extreme.
The final group of 14 horses are those that have no siblings. So taking any of them would mean taking that mare’s only offspring from the range. Hypothetically this would not be allowed, but let’s be real, the BLM does not hesitate to remove a mare’s only-foal. Remember in 2012 when they said that Gaelic Princess and High Noon were young and would have other foals? How did that work out for them? Oh right, they’re being put back on PZP this year despite having no living offspring on the range, something that could have been prevented if the BLM had not taken their first foals.
Horses w/ no Siblings
So there’s your facts kids. Now let’s all go forth and raise a big stink. I mean, sure the BLM never listens and we don’t have any actual power to stop them despite the fact that they hypothetically work for the American people. And yeah, last time there was a ruckus the BLM doubled the number they planned to remove. But hey, it’s better than doing nothing and some day it has to work, right? Maybe someday is today.
And yeah, maybe that is a terrible way to end a blog post. I’m supposed to be the plucky one in our ragtag band of wild horse lovers, after all. I guess even the spunky one gets tired now and then. Taking so many horse would decimate the Pryor herd, especially now that 90% of the mares are going to be kept on PZP at all times.
What is more, what happens to the horses who are removed? After 2012 does anybody really think that enough people will magically pop out of the woodwork to give 30 horses homes? And call me selfish, but what does that mean for the White Mountain horses? If the White Mountain roundup cannot be stopped, is anybody going to even notice while Encore is stuck in the Britton Springs corrals waiting for her day at auction? I think of Leo’s brother getting removed, our one last bastion of Custer and it kills me. If that happens, I can’t save him. I will have to sit back and watch while he heads off to God knows where. Odds are good that for some of these horses it will be a long ride to a short-term holding pen in another state after they aren’t adopted.
The BLM put their stupid, ridiculous, extreme rules in place by claiming that they were doing it so we would severely reduce the number of removals. They don’t get to turn around less than a month later and keep on with the same party BS they always pull, wanting to torch to range by taking the last solid foal crops we will ever have.
Except they do. Because the BLM wrote the rules, and they wrote them specifically so they could pull the fuster cluck. It’s getting so, so old, my friends.