Guest Opinion by KATHLEEN HAYDEN
To The Desert Independent
July 17, 2019
The following letter was sent to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Acting Assistant Director Leah Baker on July-12-2019. It may be of importance to the public and elected representatives to consider existing alternatives to the crisis propaganda of Wild horses and burros on the public domain.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Acting Assistant Director, Resources and Planning
Re: Rewilding a native cultural resource
Dear Ms. Baker,
I am pleased to hear that U.S. Bureau of Land Management Acting Director Casey Hammond told the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board in Boise ID on July 11, 2019 that lethal methods to control wild horse herds options are off the table. Please consider another option under existing wildlife restoration laws of rewilding this federally protected resource using existing Pitman Robertson funds (see below).
Even if there was any iota of accuracy to the claim of excess horses and burros of nearly three times appropriate levels, 90,000 wild horses in 10 Western states, that number would represent the least amount of grazers on the public domain. For instance, there are 80,000 elk in the state of Utah alone.
One out of every 10 acres of wildlife habitat in the United States is managed by the BLM National System of Public lands – approximately 245 million acres (380,000 square miles) in 23 states. At the outset, it is important to note that wild horses and burros are no less "wild" animals than are the grizzly bears that roam our national parks and forests. In structure and purpose, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act is nothing more than a land-use regulation enacted by Congress to ensure the survival of a particular species of wildlife. Mt.States v Hodel.
Consider the cumulative cost of extraction, and warehousing of captured wild horses & burros vs re-wilding to MAINTAIN existing INVENTORIES as required by law. This option outweighs and out ranks the DOI/BLM extraction and (illegal) CONVERSION of a native cultural protected wildlife resource. (see attached US v Hughes)
Federal Aid for Wildlife Restoration via the Pittman-Robertson Act was passed in 1937. Revenues generated from these excise taxes are apportioned to state wildlife agencies for their conservation efforts, https://www.animallaw.info/statute/us-funding-state-pittman-roberson-act-chapter-5b-wildlife-restoration#669a (8) the term "wildlife-restoration project" includes the wildlife conservation and restoration program and means the selection, restoration, rehabilitation, and improvement of areas of land or water adaptable as feeding, resting, or breeding places for wildlife, including acquisition of such areas or estates or interests therein as are suitable or capable of being made suitable therefor, and the construction thereon or therein of such works as may be necessary to make them available for such purposes and also including such research into problems of wildlife management as may be necessary to efficient administration affecting wildlife resources, and such preliminary or incidental costs and expenses as may be incurred in and about such projects.
In achieving Standards for Rangeland Health, BLM must consider the numbers of all forage dependent wildlife as a priority over privately owned livestock. The priority is substantiated by the Endangered Species Act. Also refer to BLM manual Section which provides policy and procedural guidance on the identification, evaluation and designation of areas of critical environmental concern (ACEC's) in the development, revision and amendment of resource management plans (RMP's)and amendments of management framework plans not yet replaced by RMP's. The materials are formerly found at .8 in Manual Section 1617. Annual Status Reports are required. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK232366/
Herd areas are the critical habitat that meets the criteria for distinct Equus population segments and/or evolutionarily significant units (ESU) What are CUs and why are they important? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4185076/
Broadly speaking, CUs are population units identified within species that are used to help guide management and conservation efforts.
Identifying CUs is an essential first step in conservation so that managers and policy makers know the boundaries of the population units that they are trying to conserve. It is not possible to assess the status of a population or develop a management strategy to increase population growth rates without first knowing where a population begins and ends. The two most commonly discussed conservation units are evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) and management units (MUs). Moreover, major intraspecific units, such as ESUs, are granted legal protection in many countries, including the USA (under the Endangered Species Act), Canada (Species at Risk Act), and Australia (Endangered Species Protection Act).
In Mar of 2016 Karen.Miner@wildlife.ca.gov stated “ When and if available scientific information convinces the experts that determine the checklist of native species to North America that Equus caballus should be considered as an indigenous species, they will make the change in the next revision to the list.” YET to date all responsible agencies have blatantly ignored the widely published mitochondrial DNA evidence of origin and geographic distinctions i.e. https://awionline.org/content/wild-horses-native-north-american-wildlife
Even Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall stated the importance of the Government’s interest in preserving herds IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT. The 1976 Supreme Court wildlife decision (Kleppe v. New Mexico) confirmed Federal the wildlife horse/burro status, and RETURNED wild burros to the range.
Yet after 45 years from the Kleppe decision, the Secretary of DOI has neglected to implement Congressional mandates to amend Resource management plans to increase and sustain/maintain grazing ranges or restore and re wild heritage herd INVENTORIES.
The public domain is comprised of hundreds of thousands of county, state, federal preserves, and other federal lands that allow wildlife relocation, occupation and rehabilitation; the founding purpose of the Endangered Species Act. Much of these lands were historic wild horse and burro grazing landscapes that were overlooked and/or excluded as migratory ranges during the 1971 mandated habitat inventories. Secretarial Order 3356: Hunting, Fishing, Recreational Shooting, and Wildlife Conservation Opportunities and Coordination with States, Tribes, and Territories. This order specifies that DOI bureaus prioritize “active habitat-management projects and funding that contribute to achieving wildlife population objectives” and to “review and use the best available science or other relevant projects to avoid or minimize potential negative impacts on wildlife.”
Consultation is the primary purpose of NEPA and may have been overlooked in major capture actions mandating Consultation and application of Programmic Agreements.
In the public interest, your consideration in application of the above stated options would be greatly appreciated.
Yours very truly,
POB 236, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
Perspectives from the Field: Wild Horses Are Cultural ...
PERSPECTIVES FROM THE FIELD: Wild Horses Are Cultural Resources - Volume 18 Issue 3 - Kathleen Hayden