The Wild Horse Conspiracy

Scoping Public Comment Murderer’s Creek Wild Horse Joint Management Area Plan

August 13, 2019

Department of Agriculture
United States Forest Service
Malheur National Forest
Blue Mountain Ranger District
431 Patterson Bridge Rd.
PO Box 909
John Day, Oregon 97845
United States Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management
Prineville District Office
3050 NE 3rd Street
Prineville, Oregon 97754
Attn: Dennis Teitzel, District Manager

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.
The Murderer’s Creek Wild Horse Territory is located southwest of John Day, Oregon, and includes 73,609 acres of Forest Service land, 34,879 acres of Bureau of Land Management land, 23,773 acres of private land, and 10,479 of state land. Thus there is a total of 142,740 acres in this wild horse Joint Management Area. The AML, however, is not even genetically viable even by the substandard standards typically used by the federal government. Actually 2,500 individuals is what is recommended by the IUCN SSC Equid Specialist Group. Furthermore given a mean AML of 95 horses, the official proposal is for there to be an enormous 1,503 acres per individual wild horse. This is a nearly wild-horse-empty ecosystem and very much contrary to the true and core intent of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. This Act in its Section 2 c mandates that the wild horses receive the principal resources within their legal areas, not be marginalized to a mere token forage allocation and assigned a genetically non-viable population level! I therefore strongly urge you to correct this gross injustice and to greatly reduce the livestock forage allocation and numbers within this legal wild horse area! You should employ Code of Federal Regulations 4710.5 & .6 aka Closure to Livestock in order to protect and defend and establish a viable and thriving population of wild horses, not conspire in cahoots with wild horse enemies to make a mockery of the law and in fact secure the monopolization of the public lands resources by livestock permittees who graze their cattle and sheep on public lands only by cancelable privilege whereas the wild horses have absolute rights to be thriving and naturally adapted, genetically viable populations within their legal areas. As a lifelong observer and student of the wild horses, I look forward to visiting those of Murderer’s Creek JMA, and want these national heritage species to receive their full rights, not be set up for a mere token, non-viable population. They contribute positively to ecosystems in many ways and also help mitigate or even prevent catastrophic wildfires, which is a major concern today in this era of Global Warming. They also uplift the vibration of the life community due to the fact that they are highly evolved presences, ancient of origin, yet every renewing and adapting to prevailing conditions. They are also deeply rooted in North America and there is evidence horses never entirely died out here, so their comeback is very healing and restoring (see my book The Wild Horse Conspiracy on this subject).

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.
The Wild Horse and Burros AML now used for the Murderer’s Creek Herd Area/Territory must be unbiasedly evaluated and raised to accommodate the current and future populations that are congressionally designated to live on that land and the suggestion to raise the AML is within the scope of this upcoming EA/EIS document. Reviewing and raising the AML is entirely relevant to this proposal and must be reviewed by the decision makers and made a part of the administrative record and this be provided to the public in the EA. The law states, and it is within the USFS and BLM’s ability to increase the wild horse AML on the Murderer’s Creek Herd Area by reassessing and amending plans under BLM’s Adaptive Management Policy (established by Interior Secretary Order N0. 3270, March 9, 2007); which states: “establishing the agency policy to incorporate Adaptive Management into management programs [including] to reassess and increase Appropriate Management Levels (AML) for wild horses.”

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].
BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Program – Legislative History

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
Wild Horse and Burro Fund
P.O. Box 456
Minden, NV 89423

Craig Downer

Support Our Work

Make a tax-deductible contribution to allow us to continue conducting research, education and outreach.

Get Involved

Sign up to receive our Action Alerts.

Purchase a copy of The Wild Horse Conspiracy by Craig Downer.

Join Us on Facebook

Issues     About Us     News     Resources     Photo Gallery     What You Can Do     Contact Us