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Terri Farley
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Wild Horse Roundups : Who calls an emergency?

Christmas week Eagle /Silver King gather 2016  (BLM photo)

Christmas Week, Eagle and Silver King gather:

Helicopters contractors paid to prowl Nevada's high desert and spot wild horses'
shelters from blizzards, had flushed put and captured 18 mustang stallions, 16 mares and 9 foals befor
the Bureau of Land Management declared snowstorms a hazard to pilots and aircraft.
Today BLM plans to continue its "emergency" round up.
Why is this wild horse round-up an emergency? 
BLM says these wild horses come too close to the road.
No, wait, these are excess mustangs. That's the emergency.
Most members of the public only know what BLM said in its press release. It announced a race to remove 100 "excess" wild horses from public and private lands “to provide for public and animal safety.” Either or neither could be true, because:

Self-declared Bureau of Land Management emergencies do not require environmental assessments

Emergency gathers aren't uncommon in BLM wild horse management. Just this year they've had emergencies in places like Three Fingers, Oregon and Caliente, Wood Hills, Tunnel Springs, CherrySpring and Silver King, Nevada.
Were these true emergencies? We must listen to BLM's "trust me" because the streamlined process only requires a
BLM staffer -- often a field office manager responding to a rancher-tenant who wants mustangs off "his" land -- to report an "emergency" situation to a state program lead. The lead contacts the Washington, D,C, office. Then,
"If timing permits, a gather plan environmental assessment is prepared prior to any removal of wild horses or burros in response to the emergency. If this is not possible, a report is prepared after the action is taken. The public is notified via at least a news release."  (Jason Lutterman,Public Affairs Specialist (On Range), National Wild Horse and Burro Program and  BLM handbook )
No shelter for wild horses at BLM's Broken Arrow facility, but that's no emergency. It's where mustangs go
                                   after Christmas week Eagle /Silver King gather 2016  (BLM photo)
These days, I try to give BLM the benefit of the doubt by listening to sources inside the agency if they'll talk with me. There's a real danger America's pubic lands and wildlife will be handed over to slaughter-friendly states in 2017 and, despite its flaws, BLM is--under law -- restricted in their treatment of wild equines.
Still, I can't swallow "after the action is taken" explanations because I've been in California grazing association meetings, where a BLM field manager coodled ranchers with wild horse worries, by promising, "Anything we can do to assist you, we will. Anything."   
One element of "anything" turned out to be the 2015 round-up of 1,070 wild horses and the admitted deaths of 16. But that was another time.
Now, I urge you to sign up for for news on wild horses. Even though I've covered  BLM's handling of our wild horses for 30 years, I haven't been skeptical enough.
Too often when they've said "Trust me," I should've heard "I'm lying."  You can help me and the wild horses.

Happier days : 2016 BLM photo, Silver King herd management area



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