Scoping Public Comment Murderer’s Creek Wild Horse Joint Management Area Plan
August 13, 2019
Department of Agriculture
Re: Scoping Public Comment Murderer’s Creek Wild Horse Joint Management Area Plan
Dear Public Official:
The proposed appropriate management level (AML) for the Murderer’s Creek herd is between 50-140. https://www.fs.fed.us/wild-horse-burro/territories/MurderersCreek.shtml
Here are some additional points with which I concur from another wild horse advocate (K. Gregg) who has submitted input on your scoping for this JMA:
“As the district court explained in Dahl v. Clark, the test as to appropriate wild horse population levels is whether such levels will achieve and maintain a thriving, ecological balance on the public lands. Nowhere in the law or regulations is the BLM or USFS required to maintain any specific numbers of animals or to maintain populations in the numbers of animals existing at any particular time. The only law that requires the BLM to maintain populations is the 1971 Congressional law. The law must be followed and the law states, “that wild free-roaming wild horses [and burros] are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural ecosystem of the public lands”. Thus, an AML established purely for BLM or USFS administrative reasons because it was the level of the wild horse and/or burro use at a particular point in time or imagined to be an advantageous population for the USFS or BLM cannot be justified under statute.
Using BLM’s own published maximum “240 acres per horse” per year (half of this usage per burro) statement the wild horses’ legally designated Murderer’s Creek legally designated land could today accommodate at least 422 wild horses. In addition, most ranchers factor only 125 acres per ~1000-pound bovine per year in a high desert environment. If we thereby use the 125 acres of high desert ecosystem per ~1000-pound animal on the Murderer’s Creek herd area, the actual number of wild horses that could be supported would be well over 811 wild horses. This is figured using simple mathematics and common sense.
Although I am not suggesting that 811 wild horses should be considered as the Appropriate Management Level (AML) for this herd, by law the USFS and BLM can and should “close appropriate areas of public lands to grazing use by all domestic livestock, if necessary, to provide habitat for wild horses; to implement herd management actions; or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment, or injury”. 43 C.F.R. § 4710.5. It is the United States federal law.
Designated wild horse (and burro) herd area ranges are to be devoted principally to the protection and preservation of wild horses (or burros). This means that other uses may be constrained to the extent necessary to provide fully for the wild horses’ (and wild burros’) welfare. This obviously will require reductions or closure to livestock grazing regardless of the political influence or threats or bullying by the grazing permit holders or others with a financial interest in the legal wild horse and burro land. The definition “range” means the amount of land necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds of wild free-roaming horses and burros, which does not exceed their known territorial limits [in 1971].
An EA/EIS must consider alternatives that would mitigate any need to remove any of the wild horses both temporarily or permanently and must provide the following specific data and a complete analysis of accommodation of the present wild horse without removals; pursuant to CFR 43 C.F.R. 4710.5(a)”
I would greatly appreciate a response to the above points and urge you to act honorably as public officials charged with upholding all the laws fairly and equitably in America rather than be cowed by selfish bullies who have become blind to so many of the other values and presences on the public lands because of their narrow vested interests. Please keep me informed as this process advances and of additional opportunities to give input.
Craig C. Downer