We saw about 10 deer in all. These two were from a group of about 6. Difficult to count them when sitting a good distance away in a truck while some of them were bounding away. These two were some that posed for us giving us that "deer in the headlights" look.
Moving along we came to another bachelor band of three. There are many young bachelors in the Heber Herd at this time do to the fact that for the past few years there were a majority of colts born compared to fillies. This will alter the herd in future years with fewer foals being born as the adult mares age and the number of producing mares declines.
Big bay trying to get the buckskin to play...
Much to the disappointment of the bay, the buckskin wants no part of it.
On FS 300 we came upon a bachelor band of 4. When viable herd numbers are discussed, keep in mind that does not include non producers such as bachelors. Only producers are counted, not horses that are too old or too young or bachelors.
Farther up the road a family band was spotted in among the trees. There were approximately 10 horses in this band. This dun stallion has primitive face markings. A dun with this dark mask is often said to have a "dirty face" which like leg bars is a primitive marking.
His band consisted of horses of several different colors...
And different ages. This little foal has a frosty tail.
Little bay colt.
An older foal.
One of the first things we noticed after turning onto FS Rd 51 were the beehives which we had never seen in this forest before. In this photo two beekeepers were tending to several of the hives. The hives were located in many different places along the 51 and the 300.
The Oversight Hearing on Challenges and Potential Solutions for BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program held by the House Committee on Natural Resources is a sham. For example, one of the "witnesses" giving "testimony" is a veterinarian. On the surface that sounds like a good thing until you find out that veterinarian is JJ Goicoechea, a 4th generation Nevada cattle rancher who is also the Deputy Administrator
State of Nevada Department of Agriculture Sparks, NV . Awards won include the Max Deets Leadership Award from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, NCBA’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference Chairman 2011. Past President Nevada Cattlemen’s Association. Goicoechea tried to make it sound like he cared for the welfare of the horses when in fact it was evident the only thing he cares about is the welfare ranchers.
There is NO overpopulation of horses but these guys don't let the truth get in their way. If the range can't support the few wild horses there are left then it certainly cannot support all the cattle which are many more in number than there are horses.
If the House Committe on Natural Resources truly wanted a fair and unbiased veterinarian who could speak the truth about the status of America's wild horses they would not have chosen a cattle rancher whose "witness" and "testimony" is a clear conflict of interest.
While we might laugh at their apparent typo, their highly exaggerated wild burro counts is no laughing matter. Their inflated numbers are what the BLM uses to justify removing America's wild burros from OUR federal lands.
Paragraph shown here is from the BLM Black Mountain Ecosystem Management Plan and Assessment
April 14, 2016
Barry Imler...Forest Service Rangeland Management Specialist made it clear that the Heber wild horse herd is on the Forest Service hit list.
"Now the hybrid.
This is in Arizona in the Apache Sitgraves national forest.
Since then, we had two large fires down there that removed barriers to migration, holding the forest for horses and created all kinds of high-quality forage.
As a result of that, we have a large number of horses that have migrated, mostly from surrounding reservations, where they are having their own issues as far as too many animals.
We believe we have had some abandoned animals placed out there also.
We also have a court settlement from some prior litigation that's hindering our ability to respond to that situation.
Now, in response to the court settlement, and the ongoing resource issues out there, we're looking at moving forward with the territory management plan.
There's an environmental impact statement planned.
That NEPA analysis through an EIS is probably not going to begin until we finish getting through the forest planning process and get that finalized.
Forest land management plan governs what we can and can't do as far as the territory management plan.
The forest plan is already out on the street, it's been through the appeal -- it has been through the appeal process, in the appeal process right now.
We received appeals and we are working through the process on that.
Once we get through the process, we will have a final decision and then the forest is geared up and ready to move forward with the territory management plan.
A lot of these horses -- well, the area we are looking at is called the Heber wild horse territory.
It's sitting in the middle where a lot of these horses have shown up.
We believe -- at least the forest believes that for quite a few years before the fires, that territory was vacant.
There were no wild horses present.
So part of the analysis for the territory management plan is going to be to determine was it vacant?
Do we have animals -- or do we have animals there covered by the act?
If we do, how are we going to manage them?
You know, what do we have an AML?
How are we going to manage any potentially -- any animals potentially covered by the act?
And how will we manage all the other horses that are out there that are not covered by the act?
This one I'm sure will be controversial.
I'm sure you will hear about it.
It already came up as an appeal issue and why they do the territory plan before the forest management plan."
Here is a statement from our attorneys who are working to protect the Heber Wild Horse Herd:
"In 1971, Congress recognized that “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people”. 16 U.S.C. § 1331. Congress, therefore, announced the policy that “wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected . . . and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public land.” Id. With respect to the Heber Wild Horse Territory, the United States Forest Service (“USFS”) is directed to protect and manage wild free-roaming horses as components of the public lands. See 16 U.S.C. §§ 1333(a); 1332(a)."
"In 2005, the USFS capriciously determined that approximately 300 to 400 horses living and grazing in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest located near Heber, Arizona, were “trespass” horses and that they should be removed. Despite the fact that this area encompassed a federally-protected wild horse territory, the USFS summarily concluded that all the horses in that area migrated from the reservation borders of the White Mountain Apache Indians to avoid the Rodeo-Chediski fires in 2002. A group of local residents and a coalition of horse advocacy groups prevented the USFS from removing the horse through civil action. That efforts involved hundreds of hours of volunteer attorney time to build the case, including interviews of several dozen local residents, pouring through historic writings and old photographs, deposing several current and former representatives of the USFS and private residents regarding the status of the horses and the historic presence of wild horses in the area, and commissioning an expert report showing that the behavioral patterns of the horses in question in fact demonstrate that they are “wild,” as opposed to escaped domestic animals."
"In 2007, this group obtained a court approved stipulation requiring, among other things, that the USFS formally recognized the Heber Wild Horse Territory. The USFS acknowledged that “the Heber Wild Horse Territory still exists and has not been dissolved” and that “wild horses are by law an integral part and component of the natural system of the public lands, as expressed by Congress in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 as amended.” The USFS specifically agreed to work with the public in the “development of a written Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Strategy in accordance with the provisions of the [Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971].” USFS also agreed to conduct an appropriate analysis pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321 et seq. (“NEPA”), and finalize Management Plan for the Heber Wild Horse Territory. Moreover, the agreement mandates that the USFS to refrain from gathering or removing any horses from the Heber Wild Horse Territory and associated public lands until the USFS finalizes the Management Plan. Despite agreeing to complete, with public involvement, an analysis and appropriate environmental document pursuant to NEPA and develop a written Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Strategy in accordance with the provisions of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1331 et seq. (“Wild Horses Act”), USFS has yet to do so."
"To further this effort, we have been working to further protect the interests of the horses. This involve a pending appeal of the proposed Land Management Plan for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, as well as coordinating meetings with local and regional representatives of USFS. WE are prepared to assist in the process of developing the much-awaited Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Strategy. Importantly, we have continue to monitor the Heber Wild Horse herd and have successfully prevent any further round-ups by USFS over the last several years."
Anthony W. Merrill
Disclaimer regarding this group, ‘Heber Wild Horses’
We want to make it clear that we are not now, nor have we ever in the past requested or accepted donations or funding for ‘Heber Wild Horses’. We are aware of many wild horse advocacy groups who are raising money but presently we have no need to ask for monetary support. The Heber horses are wild and as such they don’t require supplemental feed or veterinary care, hoof care, etc. That being said, we do ask for your support in helping us to protect and preserve this herd. Please help us to help the Hebers by following our page to keep up to date on any new developments in regards to what Forest Service is planning for the Heber Wild Horse Territory and the horses. Share our information with others to spread awareness of this herd. If you go to the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests to see the horses and enjoy the forest in other ways, please keep your eyes open for anything that does not seem to be in the best interest of the horses. You can private message us if you see something that does not seem right. Heber wild horses have been shot in the past and we do not want that to happen again. Many eyes in the forest watching out for the horses is a good thing. And if you photograph the horses, please feel free to share them with us. We love to get and share photos of the Hebers!
Thank you for all your support...past, present, and future!
~Heber Wild Horses~
Michele ~ Mary ~ Nichole ~ Carly
February 1, 2016 Lisa Grant Rangeland Management Specialist BLM Burns District Office 28910 Hwy 20 West Hines, OR 97738 RE: NEPA #DOI-BLM-ORWA-B000-2015-0055-EA Mare Sterilization Research Dear Ms. Grant, The United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) respectfully submits the following comments regarding the proposed Mare Sterilization Research project at the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Oregon Wild Horse Corral Facility in Hines, Oregon. USCA represents a national membership of cow-calf producers, backgrounders and feedlot operators whose mission is to present an effective voice for the United States cattle industry. Current estimates state that over 100,000 wild horses are under BLM jurisdiction, with almost half of those horses residing in permanent, long-term, federal holding pens.1 Wild horses devastate ecosystems by overgrazing public and private lands, damaging riparian areas, and polluting pristine Western waters. Herd Management Areas (HMA) are grossly overpopulated, forcing many wild horse herds to seek space in non-HMA locations. Improper and inactive management often results in poor horse health, compromises habitat conservation efforts, and costs millions of dollars of taxpayer money to remedy. Given the current situation, USCA welcomes new policies and ideas to appropriately and actively manage wild horses and burros. However, USCA has numerous concerns with the likelihood of this particular research project leading to a successful method of managing excess horses and burros on public and private lands. Those concerns are as follows: Tubal ligation and hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation procedures appear to be the least abrasive technique in the EA; and therefore, are the most likely to be supported by the public. However, this option is limited in its scope of application. The Hysteroscopically-guided Laser Ablation Study is applicable only to open (non-pregnant) mares, therefore greatly reducing the number of animals eligible for the procedure. 2 Wild horses tend to be exceptionally fertile; therefore, the likelihood of gathering an adequate amount of open mares, out of any HMA, is relatively small. Further, cost estimates for the 3. United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, Burns District Office, Mare Sterilization Research Environmental Assessment. (2016, January 5). Page 46 4. United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, Burns District Office, Mare Sterilization Research Environmental Assessment. (2016, January 5). Page 21 5. Nutrena: Knowledge Center - Horse - Nutrition & Care - Colic in Horses. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2016, from http://www.nutrenaworld.com/knowledge-center/horse/horse-nutrition-tools/colic-in-horses/index.htm procedure are under estimated in the assessment. Hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation is expected to cost the least amount of taxpayer dollars at $75-$125 per head. Ovariectomy via colpotomy is expected to cost the most, at approximately $250–$300 per head.3 Unfortunately, in order to conduct this procedure at a level that would curb population growth, an inordinate amount of indirect costs not evaluated in this EA would need to be calculated into the final cost to taxpayers. Sites across the West would need to be built and properly staffed to apply the procedure to the greatest number of animals possible; consequently, the number of staff and veterinarians needed would grow exponentially as a result. Tubal Ligation According to the EA, this procedure is intended to be used on pregnant mares. While this serves as a contrast to the above procedure, it is still not without major concerns. Once again, indirect costs associated with this procedure are not accurately evaluated, especially considering possible complications and pain associated with this procedure including abdominal pain (colic) associated with the expansion of the abdomen. 4 The description of this type of procedure leaves serious doubts as to the amount of horses that can be performed upon per hour. Additionally, the question remains whether the ovaries can even be reached during the procedure due to uterus movement of a late term mare. Similar to the hysteroscopically-guided laser ablation, this procedure is limited in the number of eligible mares, resulting in a significantly smaller impact on controlling the epidemic of excess horses throughout most HMAs. Ovariectomy via Colpotomy This procedure, as outlined in the EA, appears to be the least humane of the three methods proposed. Individual mares selected for inclusion in the ovariectomy procedure would be held without feed for 36 hours prior to surgery. As hindgut herbivores, horses are designed to be foragers. Withholding feed for 36 hours can cause undue stress on the individual mare and increase the risk of painful abdominal pain, or colic, which can result in fatality.5 Ovariactomy via colpotomy suggests that mares be kept standing for 48- hours after the surgery is completed. Due to the inherent nature of wild horses, USCA has serious doubts that this task can be properly carried out to ensure a successful operation. Because of the perceived inability to keep wild horses standing for up to 48 hours, we would expect the mortality rate to be much higher than cited in the EA. Additional post-operative complications include pain, colic, pawing, refusal to eat, bleeding, infection, or signs of abortion. There is a lack of clarity presented in the EA on the ability to conduct this surgery on a larger scale. For a group of 100 horses, the EA anticipates a timeframe of 3 to 4 days to complete all of the procedures. With an ever-increasing number of wild horses and burros on public and private lands, a more timely solution is necessary. Conclusion 6. Population dynamics of feral horses in Western North America, Wolfe, Michael L., Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, Volume 6, Issue 5, 231 – 235 7. Public Act 92-195, 92 Cong. (1971) (enacted). http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/Planning_and_Renewable_Resources/wild_horses_and_burros/sale_authority.Par.69801. File.dat/whbact_1971.pdf USCA does not believe that any of the three proposed research procedures will serve to curb the exponential increase in wild horse populations. USCA recognizes the BLM’s constructive efforts to find solutions to the dire situation we currently face, but does not support the methods proposed in this EA as a means by which to address the problem at hand. These proposed procedures come at significant cost and will take years to develop and implement across the west in order to see actual results in reduced herd sizes. This particular study examines approximately 200 mares at a cost of $400,000 to simply house and feed the animals, with an additional $60,000 - $70,000 in surgical procedure costs. USCA believes that the costs described in this EA do not factor in the potential future costs of implementing any of the three proposed sterilization methods on a larger scale. In order for any population control measure to be successful, it would need to be performed upon close to 40,000 free-roaming mares. The cost to sterilize that number of mares could reach up to $140 million in surgical fees alone. In addition, there are a multitude of associated costs not included in the EA. For example, post-operative care of the mares is not factored into the overall cost assessment in the EA. Mares who receive the sterilization procedure are at risk of many post-operation complications, resulting in the potential administration of costly pain medications and veterinary care. USCA requests a reassessment of the associated costs of this study, and its implication on a larger scale. With wild horse populations already greatly exceeding numbers set forth in the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, and continually increasing at a rate of 18% annually, solutions need to be practical and fast.6 USCA continues to support BLM efforts to gather wild horses and humanely euthanize excess wild horses as called for in the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act.7 Understandably, this solution may not be the most popular alternative, but it serves as the only truly humane and fiscally responsible way to rein in current excess over Appropriate Management Levels (AML). Our public lands and natural resources are degrading as this issue is left unchecked; a balance must be restored on the management of federal lands for multiple uses. USCA welcomes your feedback and comments to the concerns listed above. Please contact the USCA office at 202-546-4064 for further information or clarification regarding any of the above stated concerns. Regards, Danni Beer President United States Cattlemen’s Association