Protest of Planned Wild Horse Gather in Beaty’s Butte HMA, Lakeview District of BLM, Oregon
October 27, 2015
E. Lynn Burkett, Lakeview BLM District Manager
Attention also: BLM Oregon State Director Jerome E. Perez
Dear Mr. Burkett,
I recently learned about your district’s announced roundup of 1,500 wild horses from the Beaty’s Butte wild horse HMA and am taking this opportunity to protest this extreme violation of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. I have reviewed the details about this vast and rich habitat and realize that you and your team have grossly betrayed your duty to defend the rights of the wild horses here. As your webpage’s description of this HMA indicates, there are 437,120 acres of legal land for the wild horses yet your AML is so outrageously low that it would leave a basically wild-horse-empty ecosystem, or ca. 4000 acres per remaining wild horse.
It is not realistic to think that this would be in any way natural, or that the wild horses would somehow be a thriving, naturalyl balanced population when confined to this artificially low population level. Problems with inbreeding would most surely arise, and the horses would experience much stress and morbidity because of this unnaturally intervention in their adaptive process.
By gutting this herd and releasing only 60 stallions and 40 mares, you would be destroying the very social units, the bands, that are, in fact, necessary for the stabilization of the wild horse population here. You should cancel your plan and give the wild horses their due resources in this beautiful area, by reducing the current livestock and other types of monopolization of the resources. In this HMA, the wild horses restore balance and contribute positively to the overall ecosystem. You should employ the sound principles of Reserve Design for naturally self-stabilizing populations that are long-term viable ones in the thousands, not mere token, dysfunctional herds that are managed for adoption while entirely thwarted in their ability to naturally adapt and harmonize with this ecosystem as the WFHBA purely intends.
I call upon you to do the right thing and cancel this roundup. It is extremely unfair to the returned native horses and to the large numbers of people who appreciate these wonderful animals (at least 80% of the general public according to surveys). To those of us who truly appreciate the wild horses in the wild, your plan is a total slap in the face and demonstrates your disrespect for both the horses and us as fellow Americans and even more as fellow individual humans.
Before closing I would like to add that the wild horses are great builders of soils, dispersers of intact seeds, and reducers of dry flammable vegetation, I. e. preventers of catastrophic wildfires. As post-gastric digesting herbivores, they complement the many ruminant-digesting herbivores that are overly promoted. The wild horses lend a much needed balance to the ecosystem here, where they evolved over millions of years with no significant absence. Studies have shown how compatible they are with the Pronghorns, with which they coevolved for thousands of generations.
Please get back with me on my rights to protest this outrageous planned reduction of the Beaty’s Butte wild horse herd. I have visited these horses and their decimation would be a serious blow to my quality of life as well as professional opportunity as a wildlife ecologist to observe one of the few wild horse herds left in the United States that is even near the 2,500 horses level that the Equid Specialist Group recommends to preserve long-term viability.
Craig C. Downer