The Wild Horse Conspiracy

Input on Public Hearing on Use of Motorized Vehicles and Helicopters in Rounding Up Wild Horses January 23 2018

January 17, 2018

Challis Field Office
Bureau of Land Management
721 East Main Avenue, Suite 8
Challis, Idaho

Input for Motorized Hearing to take place Tuesday, January 23, 2018, 1 to 2 PM

Dear Sirs:

As one who has followed the fate of our nation’s wild horses and burros and observed many
of the herds in the wild as well as inspected their habitats, I am very concerned that the helicopter
roundups being employed are having a seriously disruptive effect on those wild horses/burros unfortunate enough to be subjected to them.

The rapid descending of a large metal machine with blades whirring loudly produces a terrifying experience
for the wild equids who are rounded up. This traumatizes and often injures them, both physically and emotionally. In combination with the whole roundup experience the helicopter roundups produce a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, that can remain with them for the rest of their lives. Many of the adopted wild horses who have been helicopter rounded go into a panic whenever they hear a helicopter approaching, even years after they were rounded up.

The breakup of the social units, or bands, that follows these roundups is also inadvisable. It is precisely these
social units, when allowed to establish themselves over time with mature stallions and mares, that act to limit reproduction. The mature social bands coupled with the wild equids’ filling their ecological niche in any give area
is what leads to a benign population stabilization.

For this reason, I am a proponent of a “Reserve Design” approach to wild horse/burro protection, preservation, and management. Reserve Design is for truly long-term viable herds that are allowed to harmoniously adapt to each particular ecosystem. Also given certain limitations to expansion outside large and complete habitats for genetic viability, such as natural barriers, the wild horses/burros could self stabilize their numbers once their niche is filled. This has been proven and it is the right way to proceed.We humans must not put the squeeze on them and put them in a desperate situation, which is exactly what the helicopter roundups do. It is contrary to Section 3 a of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, concerning “minimum feasible level” of management.

I would be glad to discuss the Reserve Design concept for wild horse protection and management further and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes for the New Year!

Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist
Wild Horse and Burro Fund
P.O. Box 456
Minden, NV 89423-0456

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