The recommendation at this time from the Collaboration Working Group is to cull the herd down to a nonviable 60 horses. We believe Genetic viability levels as originally stated by Dr Gus Cothran, to be 250 horses. We recognize that recent numbers stated have been lower than that, however studies in other parts of the world suggest the number is 10 times this. Therefore, we recommend keeping the low end of any AML at 250 and the high at 330.
Per a News Release by the U.S. Forest Service in 2005, there were approximately 300 horses currently grazing a portion of the Rodeo/Chediski burned area near Heber. At that time injunction was filed preventing the capture and removal of any of the free-roaming horses in the Sitgreaves. A Federal Court order in 2007 extended the prohibition of removing any free-roaming horses in the Sitgreaves until a U.S. Forest Service management plan was in place.
With no official, legal removal of any of the free-roaming horses having taken place from 2005 to the present, the official herd count numbers have remained fairly constant with little fluctuation. We believe a new official, unbiased count should be conducted due to the recent severe drought conditions which occurred in the Sitgreaves National Forest. It is very likely that horses were lost in spite of this group’s efforts to save as many horses as we could with the restrictions we were working under.
Achieving justice for our wild horses and burros depends on BLM officials exercising their authority to legally reduce private, usually corporate, domestic livestock grazing in the wild horse and burros’ legal areas, whether on BLM or USFS lands. Such exercise would be legally covered under 43 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) 4710.3-2 and 43 C.F.R 4710.5(a). In particular, 43 C.F.R. 4710.5 clearly states that the Bureau of Land Management can legally reduce livestock grazing in order “to provide habitat for wild horses or burros.”
§ 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.
Multiple use does come into play AFTER the horses have principle consideration, principle use of forage and water, as well as acreage resources. This would divide remaining resources between multiple uses. (Federal Land Policy and Management Act ‘FLPMA’ does not supersede the authority of any pre-existing federal land use plan) (Courts have ruled that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 is indeed a federal land use plan).
THE WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS ACT OF 1971
(PUBLIC LAW 92-195)
To require the protection, management, and control of wild free- roaming horses and burros on public lands. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress finds and declares 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; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; 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 lands.
Those who have no concern about future generations but are only concerned with the horses being in the forest while they are alive to see them are not true preservation advocates but merely self-serving individuals.