Wild Horse Problem Remains an Issue

In 2016, the Record ran a story about the wild horse problem in Lincoln County as well as much of the western United States. The problem has not gotten any better, but with the change of administration in Washington at the Department of the Interior, it might be turning toward improvement.

Lincoln County Commissioner Varlin Higbee attended a BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado, in October along with representatives from at least 11 western states.

Last year, Lincoln County alone had a problem with horse-vehicle collisions on major roads, particular U.S. 93. No major injuries occurred, but Sheriff Kerry Lee thought it would only be a matter of time before one did occur.

BLM did conduct a few wild horse gathers earlier this year which helped to a small degree, but the problem is far from resolved.

Nevada is home to over half the estimated 2,000-3,000 wild horses on the nation’s rangelands. Now, a year later, the estimates are up nearly six to nine times more in official Animal Unit Levels.

Higbee said from the meeting in Grand Junction, recommendations were made and submitted stating the need for changing existing law to allow for the slaughter of select horses, and for direct sale.

“The current regulations are failing,” he said. “They are currently being treated like an endangered species and they’re not. Allow the sale to foreign countries. Mexico, Canada, Russia, and a few others have expressed interest. But the wild horse advocates are too afraid to allow that because of not knowing what the horses would be used for in foreign countries.”

He said, “Maybe the recommendations will not be the most popular, but are the ones that need to happen to get extreme overpopulation levels down to where they can be managed and the ecosystem is not being destroyed.”

Another meeting will be held this coming spring in Washington D.C.

Along the Nevada-Utah border is one area of concern, as well as the center of the state, in Eureka, Lander, Humboldt, and parts of Esmeralda and Nye Counties.

“The water availability bunches them up in areas where there is water,” Higbee said. “But at the same time, that takes away and tramples down the ecological system for cattle, wild game, even down to the smallest sage grouse and bug depend on. Right now, according to federal regulations, cows can be taken off, but not the horses. The grazing fields are decimated and it is unknown if they will ever recover. Many cattle operations, including mine, have places just like that.”

Higbee stated he feels the BLM has bowed to the demands of environmental groups and horse advocate groups that do not want anything done. “Leave the horses to go the way of nature is the thinking. If they starve to death, they starve to death.”

He said, “If we have a hard winter this year along our eastern border, they are going to die by the thousands. There are an estimated 9,000 head of horses on our eastern border with Utah, including Elko County. It is not pretty to see a starving horse. It’s disgraceful. Most people love horses, wild or domestic. The advocate groups ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

Higbee noted each horse, and burro, too, “is put on this earth for a purpose, and the only way that animal is dignified is by serving its purpose, not just allowed to starve to death. The Indians knew how to do this well.”


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  1. Cynthia Porter says:

    Ok, now that I am Done laughing. Really? Horses sucking up all the water???? Destroying ecosystem?????? Must choose slaughter????? Omg……is that the Only thing you can do is make up bogus stories? Killer Buyer wawawa is All this is. Profit by Commercial slaughter……really, what overpopulation? Oh you mean the millions of cattle ? The overage of animals that are Not restricted? Cattle destroy water holes. That’s factual. Wah wah wah, keep crying your still Not slaughtering America’s horses just cause you want coal for Christmas

  2. Smithereens says:

    Dave Maxwell writes:

    “Nevada is home to over half the estimated 2,000-3,000 wild horses on the nation’s rangelands. Now, a year later, the estimates are up nearly six to nine times more in official Animal Unit Levels.” and later “There are an estimated 9,000 head of horses on our eastern border with Utah, including Elko County.”

    Half an estimated 2,000-3,000 wild horses would be 1,000 to 1,500 horses, according to Maxwell.

    Wild horses don’t reproduce 6 to 9 fold in a year. They are said to double every four to five, and even that’s a stretch.

    If Nevada, according to Maxwell, has 1,000 to 1,500 of the west’s wild horses, where does his figure of 9,000 come from?

    Some remedial math might help.

  3. Marybeth Devlin says:

    Bureau of Lies and Malfeasance: BLM has been exposed repeatedly for posting impossibly-high herd-growth rates. BLM uses falsified figures to concoct a crisis, hoping to secure itself a bigger budget. Truth be told, the mustangs have a government problem.

    Sparsely Populated, Widely Dispersed: Wild horses are few and far between. Here are examples of stocking rates that BLM deems “appropriate” for herds in Nevada. The stocking densities in other states are similarly sparse.

    1 wild horse per 3,102 acres (5 square miles) — Antelope
    1 wild horse per 3,566 acres (5½ square miles) — Triple B
    1 wild horse per 6,606 acres (10 square miles) — Eagle
    1 wild horse per 9,591 acres (15 square miles) — Silver King

    So, when BLM proclaims that there are 3 times more horses than the arbitrary management level (AML), for the Silver King herd, such an “overpopulation” could mean 1 wild horse per 5 square miles.

    Normative Annual Herd-Growth = At Most, 5%: Average year-to-year herd-growth is properly estimated by starting with the documented 10% surviving-foal rate and then subtracting the at-least 5% adult mortality rate. At 5% growth per year, it would take a herd 14 years to double.

    Fraudulent Figures on the Range: Below are a few examples of biologically-impossible, one-year herd-growth rates alleged by BLM for herds in Nevada. Other states have similarly-false figures.

    122% — 24 times the norm — Triple B
    164% — 33 times the norm — Goshute
    260% — 52 times the norm — Shawave Mountains
    293% — 59 times the norm — Diamond Hills South
    418% — 84 times the norm — Black Rock Range East

    Fraudulent Figures off the Range: After a 5-year investigation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation just issued a White Paper, which revealed that BLM has been reporting fictitious figures regarding the number of wild horses in long-term holding. BLM is paying, but where are the horses? http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/white-paper/

    Fraud and Embezzlement Are Crimes: BLM’s figures with regard to mustangs are false and misleading. Making false and misleading representations = fraud, which violates Title 18 USC 1001 of the Federal criminal code. Embezzlement and theft violate various sections of Title 18 USC Chapter 31.

    No Slaughter: The problem is fraud — BLM’s fraud — not overpopulation. Slaughter does not fix fraud. What is needed is honest management of our wild horses and burros.

  4. The numbers here don’t add up:

    If “Nevada is home to over half the estimated 2,000-3,000 wild horses on the nation’s rangelands,” as the article states, that equates to 1,000 to 1,500 wild horses in the state of NV. How then, as the article states further down, can there be “9,000 head of horses on our eastern border with Utah…”??

    Further, wild horse herds, in the absence of predators and the use of PZP (a contraceptive) are said to double every four to five years, making the statement, “ow, a year later, the estimates are up nearly six to nine times more in official Animal Unit Levels,” a complete fabrication.

    FInally, let me note that the Bureau of Land Management uses the term “animal unit months” and “animal units” but not “animal unit levels.”

    Someone needs to edit this piece — preferably someone who understands math, wild horses, and wild horse terminology.

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