BLM Advisory Board meeting Sept 9-11, 2013

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Eyewitness Report on BLM Advisory Board Meeting

September 9-11, 2013-Arlington, VA

By Suzanne Roy

On September 9 – 11, 2013, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board met in Arlington, VA. The primary topic of the meeting was the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on its nearly two-year long review of the BLM wild horse and burro program.

Neil Kornze, Principal Deputy Director of the BLM, opened the meeting by observing that “a tremendous number of people care about” wild horses and remarking that he was “proud” to be at the meeting “on their behalf.” Kornze stated that he was hopeful that using the NAS study findings, the BLM could chart a course forward. Kornze left the meeting after his brief remarks.

Public turnout for the comment period was strong with many of AWHPC’s coalition partners in attendance: Neda DeMayo, CEO of our founding organization Return to Freedom; Ginger Kathrens, Excecutive Director of The Cloud Foundation; and Stepahnie Boyles and Holly Hazard from the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS).  In our public comments, AWPC addressed the BLM’s preferential treatment of livestock, citing our analysis of BLM's own documents indicating that 82.5% of forage in Herd Management Areas (HMAs) is allocated to livestock, while just 17.5% is allocated to wild horses. We also presented polling data that shows 73% of the public supports protecting wild horses and 80% oppose horse slaughter. All of the wild horse advocates who spoke during the public comment period expressed a willingness to work with the BLM to implement solutions and necessary reforms of the wild horse program. At the end of the meeting, BLM Assistant Director Ed Roberson hailed a new spirit of cooperation between the BLM and the wild horse advocacy community.

AWHPC’s Suzanne Roy addressing Advisory Board during public comments.

On the other side, pro-hunting and ranching groups pressed for more wild horse roundups. Among the anti-wild horse speakers: a representative for the National Horse and Burro Rangeland Coalition, which represents Conservation Districts, Farm Bureau, Masters of Foxhounds Association, National Rifle Association, Public Lands Council, Safari Club International, and the Wildlife Society. Their view of wild horses as "feral pests" is clearly shared by many advisory board members who also represents the interests of ranchers and hunters. It is interesting to watch these board members -- led by Callie Hendrickson,  the pro-horse-slaughter cattlewoman appointed as the Board's "public" representative and John Fallen, a public lands rancher and Chairman of the Public Lands Council, an association of sheep and cattle ranches --  maneuver to scapegoat wild horses for damage to a range where 50 times more cattle roam. It is clear that Fallen, Hendrickson and others are also ready, when given the nod, to position slaughter as the only option for dealing with tens of thousands of wild horses stockpiled in government holding facilities.

The Board concluded the meeting with recommendations accepting most of the NAS’ key findings. The Board departed from the NAS recommendations on fertility control, however,  recommending that “no options for reproductive control be taken off the table, including IUD’s and ovariectomy, and tubal ligation.”

Tim Harvey, the board’s humane advocate, deserves recognition for pushing hard on the NAS’ finding about the lack of science behind BLM’s census numbers, monitoring data and Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs). Harvey rightly pointed out that these findings throw into question the agency’s continued reliance on AML as the basis for roundups and removals.

A recap of the meeting’s key presentations follows.

BOARD RECOMMENDATIONS/BLM RESPONSE

BLM Wild Horse and Burro Division Chief Joan Guilfoyle accepted the board’s recommendations from its previous meeting, including:

  • BLM become more involved in ecotourism. Guilfoyle noted that the first ecosanctuary in Wyoming is up and running, giving tours and is a model.
  • Non-reproducing herds in existing HAs and HMAs. Board is developing criteria.
  • Focus on adoptions in the East.
  • Board form a resources working group. Purpose “to look at the resource itself” – the interaction of the horses and burros. AWHPC note: this working group is populated by the pro-livestock members and is clearly aimed at dramatizing the impacts of wild horses and burros on the range while ignoring the impacts of livestock, which outnumber wild horses by 50-1 on our public lands. 
  • BLM look at ovariectomy as a method for reducing reproduction. Guilfoyle responded that BLM is looking at it very seriously. BLM has a request for information going out this week to look at the whole gamut of ideas for population suppression techniques, including surgical, pharmaceutical, etc. The BLM is collecting information until it has funding to do an actual Request for Proposals (RFP).

On the Board’s recommendation that ecosanctuaries not be developed on public Herd Management Area lands where horses currently live, Guilfoyle deferred and noted that when the new leadership team is fully in place at the Interior Department, the BLM will apprise it of the Board’s position on this issue. Until then, BLM is keeping this recommendation open as an action item.

FOREST SERVICE UPDATE

Charlie Richmond, Director of Rangelands Management and Vegetation Ecology for the Forest Service (FS), stated that the issue of wild horses is complex with polarized opinions and budget constraints. He stated that the FS values wild horses and burros as icons of our Western heritage that play an important role in the economic and social fabric of our local economies and communities. He stated that the number of wild horses has begun to exceed the capacity of the land and that they’ve started to notice degradation of watersheds and rangelands. AWHPC Note: The FS also allows livestock grazing on public lands. As on BLM lands, the number of livestock far exceeds the relatively small number of horses on FS lands.

Richmond presented the following statistics:

  • FS manages 54 wild horse/burro territories encompassing 2.5 million acres.
  • Allowable Management Level: 2,500 horses and burros
  • Current Estimated Population: 6,800
  • Removals: Just fewer than 1,000 animals have been removed from FS lands over past several years.  About 300 horses have been removed in 2013.

Richmond said the FS is concerned that 6,800 horses will be 30,000 horses in the next 10 years. The FS is focused on getting its territory plans and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents up to date.

BLM PROGRAM UPDATE (Joan Guilfoyle)

  • Instruction memoranda being issued:
    • Vaccines and deworming at short term corrals
    • Sales policy – Final guidance
    • Euthanasia of wild horses and burros -– expired – being revised
    • WHB program system –database includes all info about animals when they come off the range. New IM provides national guidance on how to track animals at short term corrals who die when they are too young to be branded or are stillborn
  • National policy on animal welfare – being done in different parts – will cover every aspect of program.
    • Handling at gathers draft came out in January. Working with U.C. Davis on refinements and SOPs and evaluation. Almost done.
    • New helicopter contract will have a new solicitation that incorporates the SOPs.
    • Will eventually cover SOPs for short-term holding, long term holding, ecosanctuaries, prison programs, on and off the range management and transport.
    • Two teams – Allen Shepherd supervising. 
  • Shade issue at Palomino Valley Corrals - Public workshop held in Reno. UC Davis animal welfare experts recommended shade over 50 % of sick pens. Did not recommend that shade be placed over all of the corrals. Currently testing different structures. National Mustang Association donated materials to build one structure. HSUS donated one of the shade structures. Never confirmed mortality because of heat. Animals did die during the time of the heat wave but it was not related to heat.
  • “Processing Plants” Given news that “processing plants” that “handle” wild horses and burros may open in U.S., assembled some people who had dealt with those plants in the past. Will be sending any plants that open letters informing them that a horse or burro that is still protected under the law cannot be processed. Letter will notify plants that they can call BLM for help reading the freezemark. Some of the processing plants that operated previously had agreements with BLM to do that. If plants in NM, MO, or IA open, local field BLM are ready to assist. AWHPC Note: Joan  was very careful to use the word “processed” instead of “slaughter.”
  • Tom Davis Update – Could get OIG report in "two months or two years."
  • Contraception- Put out request for information for proposals in contraceptive research. Have money to  get  USGS to work with field offices on best censusing methods for particular HMAs.
  • Off Range Situation - 50,000 horses in holding. 65% of budget consumed by holding costs. Put a team in place to figure out how to get horses out of holding. Have detail from White House (a horse person) looking at inmate training programs, refining the model, expanding to more prisons as way to move trainable horses out of holding. Also looking at programs with DOD and VA for veterans’ equine therapy programs.  Continue relationship with Mustang Heritage Foundation.  Signed MOU with HSUS to help with burro adoptions – 1,500 burros need homes. Gather of burros imminent – “would be lovely if those animals could go to immediate homes or a rescue instead of holding. “
  • Private Ecosanctuaries – Put out another RFP and got some responses. Team doing site visits to determine if any are feasible. Wilson ranch in Wyoming is offering some public tours.
  • On Range Update – 1,300 animals removed this summer – all based on drought and declining conditions or because they were leaving HMA and moving onto private lands or roads and becoming public safety problem.
  • Long Term Holding - A few contractors not renewing their options. About 1,400 horses are being moved.  This caused re-evaluation of summer removal schedule. “We are having discussions with Congress about this. If you can only remove animals for reasons of public safety and declining condition, we need to know what to do about that. We want to care for these animals in the most humane way possible.”
  • Budget - Unknown for 2014. Sequestration in effect.

NAS FINDINGS

What followed for the rest of the meeting were updates by various NAS panel members regarding chapters of the NAS report. The details of these findings can be located in the various chapters of the report. What follows here are highlights of the panel members’ remarks at the BLM hearing.

Dr. Mike Coughenour of Colorado State University on Population Processes

  • Carrying capacity is when a population comes into equilibrium with the food supply and/or predators. The BLM’s wild horse Appropriate Management Level (AML) is not carrying capacity but rather a stocking rate.
  • Predators do not exert a significant influence on wild horse populations in most HMAs.
  • Wild horse populations would eventually come into equilibrium with the food supply. At equilibrium the ecosystem would be “less productive and contain less biomass,” but “could be functional and sustainable…. It could go on as a thriving system.”.
  • Wild horses in the Pryor Mountains have been there since 1901 but probably long before – as early as the 1700’s. These wild horses must have self-regulated their population somehow before then. Then BLM started to intensively manage them in 1971. Although the BLM has reduced wild horse numbers, range conditions are still considered unhealthy. One of the outcomes of reduction is supposed to be improved range health but this hasn’t happened in the Pryors.  The self-regulation point for this herd is thought to be what was found there in 1970 prior to BLM’s intensive management.
  • Management removals of wild horses can stimulate or reduce population increments depending on level population number is reduced to.
  • PZP contraception reduces population more than it increases it through increases in mares’ lifespan due to reduction in number of foals.

Dr. Robert Garrott, Montana State University – Estimating population size and growth rates.

  • BLM spends 1% of budget inventorying wild horse populations.
  • BLM census numbers inconsistent
  • National estimates cannot be squared with information from field offices.
  • BLM’s current inventory techniques do not meet modern standards for scientific wildlife management.
  • BLM is likely underestimating wild horse population numbers.
  • BLM should establish “sentinel populations” for more intensive population monitoring.
  • BLM should improve transparency – make inventory available to public.
  • Wild horse populations growing at rate of 15-20% annually. Some are growing more slowly; some more quickly. On average, populations will triple every 8 years at 15% growth rate.
  • BLM has removed average of 8,700 horses per year over the last 10 years.
  • Key is to manage annual increment of horses so population gets stabilized. 
  • Fertility control can stabilize the growth rate, but will be very difficult to stabilize with fertility control alone. Success of fertility control depends on percent of the population treated.
  • Fertility control “could help and could help substantially.’ “Very comfortable with the fact that [fertility control] could have a measurable impact on population growth and could be part of the solution.”
  • There is more science on one population of elk in Yellowstone National Park than there is on the entire wild horse species in the American West.
  • The number of mares BLM has treated is very low. If goal is to reduce growth rate by half, would need to treat half the mares.

Dr. Garrott – Population Models.

  • BLM uses Win Equus model but it’s dependent on input data.
  • BLM includes Win Equus modeling data as appendixes in wild horse gather Environmental Assessments.
  • The NAS committee could not determine if BLM’s use of Win Equus models informed management decisions, was used to justify management decisions independent of the model or just put in as a boilerplate part of the plan.
  • BLM has three different parameter sets for Win Equus based on population data from 20-30 years ago. Whether that’s relevant today is unknown.
  • BLM should adopt adaptive management models that: 1) state objectives explicitly (i.e. reduce population growth rate from 20% to 10%); 2) identify alternative management actions; 3) predict response of population to each action; 4) choose and implement optimal decision; 5) monitor population to see if you get what the model predicted; 6) adjust based on monitoring.

Dr. Lynn Huntsinger, U.C. Berkeley - AML Discussion

  • Problem: legislative definitions don’t have scientific definitions:
    • What is thriving TNEB?
    • Rangeland deterioration?
    • How to accomplish and assess minimum feasible management?
    • How do you allocate resources among multiple uses?
  • NAS did survey of BLM districts on allocation of resources and AML.
    • A lot managing at historic numbers – historic ratio between cattle and horses.
    • Some subtract amount of forage used for livestock then divided the rest between horses and wildlife.
    • Various forms of monitoring and assessment– not much detail but are clearly different between offices.
  • “Tremendous variation” in the way BLM sets AML.
    • One HMA adjusted AMLs 13 times from 1979 to 2007
    • Others never changed.
    • GAO (2008) – cited lack of consistency in setting AMLs

Dr. Coughenour – Review of BLM Handbook

  • Handbook –requires BLM to manage for a Thriving Natural Ecological Balance (TNEB). Requires a minimum of 3 years of rangeland monitoring data
  • Justification for removal is some impact on rangeland health. Results of land health assessments supposed to demonstrate that removal is needed to restore the range and achieve TNEB.
  •  Establishing/adjusting AML
    • Tier One – determine whether four essential habitat components are present – forage, water, cover, and space
    • Tier 2 – core of calculation – considers forage availability and quantity in detail (relative to forage use, determines the appropriate stocking rate.) No linkage to land health despite requirement.
  • It is unclear how forage utilization is attributed to different consumers.  “Whole procedure is not exactly state of the art. There are better ways of estimating utilization than the way [BLM] does it or the way that it’s called for in the handbook.”
  • Ecological Site Description - “Pre-European plant community is point of reference” but unrealistic to think we can get back to that.
  • Habitat Monitoring - “Need more specificity in terms of actually what you do to carry out the monitoring and assess the condition and state of the ecosystem”
  • Suggestions for improvement:
  • Incorporate an Assessment Inventory and Monitoring Strategy for Integrated Renewable Resources Management (BLM 2011)
  • Integrate BLM’s BLM Rangeland Health Standards – (2001) good info but no link to what’s in the handbook.
  • Remote sensing may be the only approach for looking at large landscapes. Highly developed and a lot of ways this could be used.
  • Use state of the art methods for assessing rangeland conditions. Use theory of alternate stable states.
  • “The concept of a static AML is questionable given intrinsic variability in climate, especially precipitation.” Changes in rangeland condition are more tied to climate than herbivory. Land degradation always tied to horse usage – yet climate may play a larger role.
  • Must look at management practices that enhance resilience –new paradigm.
  • Ecosystems have been altered by introduced plant species and historic heavy livestock grazing – “TNEB is not what it used to be.” Ecosystems are trapped in alternate stable states. May not be right to consider that these ecosystems could go back to a pre-European state.
  • Adaptive management means:
    • Managing Adaptively – changes in forage, etc.
    • Adapting management to new information or new scientific understanding. What we have learned through outcomes of previous management. Using previous management to improve your model.
  • Take a whole systems approach = horses, range, vegetation, soils, wildlife and livestock. How do they interact? What are forage needs for whole system? To what extent is there overlap or niche partitioning.  Impacts of herbivores on the range.

Dr. Huntsinger – How Resources Are Allocated.

  • Focus of stakeholder attention
  • Handbook does not address how to allocate resources.
  • Fairly unclear in how resource allocations are set.
  • Allocation is a policy decision and should involve the public.
  • Participatory adaptive management and data transparency is essential.
  • “Frustrating to us that there was not more information about allocation.” Science has to be couched within the context of the allocation process. Should be explicitly stated this much forage to livestock and this much forage to horses. Then do the science. Nothing in the handbook to describe such a procedure for doing that.

Comments from Advisory Board on AML discussion:

Tim Harvey

  • Ambiguity on setting the AML. Been asking since day one, show me the science.
  • No consistency on how AML is determined and applied.
  • Only half of the people responsible in BLM responded to the NAS survey with information.
  • Indication to me that one of the problems with initiating change is “fragmentation” within BLM. Independent, self-directed offices.

Dr. Bray

  • Apathetic response to NAS survey despite investment of over $1 million in the NAS review. Symptomatic of a bigger problem within BLM.

John Fallen

“A lot of the science is over my head.”

Dean Bolstad (BLM)

Wrongly claims that BLM is “not supposed to manage HMAs principally for the horses.” BLM not supposed to give them priority in all areas. Advisory Board member Tim Harvey later points out, correctly, that Bolstad has misinterpreted the law. AWHPC Note: Bolstad is the #2 BLM official in the wild horse and burro program and his statement exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the agency of its legal mandates under the law. Whether this misunderstanding is intentional or not, it results in a regular trouncing of legal mandates, which forces citizens to repeatedly sue the agency.

Dr. Huntsinger – Public Participation

  • Social science research is needed to determine the value the public places on wild horses and use of public lands. Called for repeatedly over last 30 years, including 1982 NRC report, but has not been done yet.
  • Transparency – very important tool and well acknowledged in the literature. Share scientific information and management methods. Agency must make a commitment to this.
  • Must have a better understanding of the knowledge and value that public places on horses: Second most popular animal with the public.
  • Goals of transparency:
  • reduce conflicts
  • improve decisions and management.
  • scientific information plus values.
  • make decisions that are socially sustainable.
  • Analytic Deliberation - NRC recommended since 1996 – best practices. Goal is to integrate scientific analysis and public deliberation. Face to face engagement over time.  Goal is to lead to competent discussion.
  • Conclusions:
  • Use analytic deliberation
  • Engage public in things they care about
  • Volunteer programs
  • Make it easier to see horses
  • Convene panel to answer question about whether horses are native or non-native.
  • Present consistency, transparency and rationale for resource allocation.
  • Maintain interactive websites.

Dr. Lori Eggert, University of Missouri – Genetic Diversity

  • 9 out of 100 wild horse herds looked at are below the critical risk value for genetic diversity.
  • Genetic diversity of burro populations well below what you would see in healthy populations.
  • 12 burro HMAs with populations between 2 and 49 animals.
  • Burro populations do need priority for genetic management.
  • “Genetic diversity is not a large and overarching problem horse herds but there is a problem in burro herds.”
  • Maintenance of genetic diversity over time is going to require higher population size than even the largest HMA now has.
  • Suggest managing metapopulation – considering population as a whole and outside intervention required if populations maintained at current AMLs.

Dr. Bray

Concerned about translocation. Natural selection is unique to environment horses live in. Concerned about moving horses from one area to another. Treating as one population does not make sense? Does not translate into good traits for survival?

Dr. Eggert - Natural selection works when you have populations that reach a carrying capacity. HMAs are managed below carrying capacity at AML. Natural selection doesn’t have a chance to work unless there is competition between individuals. Ecological  differences definitely need to be taken into consideration.

Dr. Cheryl Asa – St. Louis Zoo – Options for Controlling Reproduction

  • Adjustment of sex ratio –Any mammal population is roughly 50-50 male/female. Selective removal of females results in more and more males competing for smaller number of females. Increased fighting among males for limited number of females.
  • Selective sterilization of males: excess number of males on the range competing for resources. Sterilized males not likely to be able to compete with stallions – ostracized? Smaller control trials needed before doing this on a wide scale to see if it would cause chaos socially.
  • Permanent sterilization –
  • Committee concerned about recommending surgical methods for use in the field. Would require a veterinarian. Just keeping a surgical field clean enough when doing a vasectomy was major concern. For female, you are opening a body cavity even with laporoscopic method– major surgery – even more concerns. Risk of complications, blood loss, infection, etc.
  • Not reversible –concern about maintaining genetic viability.
  • Behavioral Impacts: Estrous and ovulatory cycles would be eliminated so behavior would be altered
  • Effects on harem integrity are unknown.
  • No studies of ovariectomy in the field.
  • Castrated males – not successful in other species. TNR in feral cats. Only reaching a small percent of population. Castrated males drop out of society. Whoever is left in tact will step in and fill the reproductive void.
  • Reversible PZP vaccines:
  • PZP – liquid – highest efficacy 2 injections one month apart. Treatment regime is impractical in field.
  • PZP 22 – time release pellets. Prior testing showed good efficacy through 2 years. More recent test results showed significantly lower efficacy.
  • SpayVac – Only one published study with wild horses. Continued evidence of estrous behavior, no evidence of ovulation.
  • Mares continue to have estrous cycles. Because mares don’t conceive, they undergo more estrous cycles than non-treated mares.
  • Results from Assateague Island – mares have improved body condition and live longer.
  • Liquid PZP and Spay Vac can be delivered by dart. Most effective when hand injected in hip muscle.
  • PZP 22 – hand injected to ensure sufficient pressure to inject pellets.
  • Efficacy depends on delivery of full dose, adjuvant used, treatment protocol.
  • Individual animal differences – genetic, nutritional, immune status. Also affects duration of effect – time to reversal
  • Number of treatments affects reversal potential. Can become permanent depending on individual and number of times treated.
  • Efficacy of PZP is variable
  • Concern about side effect of SpayVac - Uterine edema - would it be chronic and result in pathology?
  • GnRH – Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone
  • GNRH (Hypolthalmus)– LH and FSH (Pituitary) – progesterone/Estrogeen (ovary). Vaccine against GNRH. Stops whole reproductive process
  • Two horse studies - One penned, one free ranging
  • Efficacy high in year 1 decreased over next few
  • No effects on behavior seen. Signs of estrus still present
  • Incomplete suppression of estrogen. Probably because estrogen is produced by follicles under stimulation from pituitary FSH is stimulated by GNRH but also secreted independent of GNRH.
  • Mare maintains estrus behavior but still experiences a contraceptive effect.
  • Not the same in males – testosterone is likely to be completely suppressed. Behavioral changes would be expected.
  • STEROID HORMONES
    • Impact behavior
    • Accumulate in fat tissue and enter the food chain. EPA not likely to approve.
  • Male directed methods
    • Surgical well established
    • Chemical – injected into body of tests. Degenerates tubules
    • Done on domestic stray dogs. Might be more challenging to inject into horse.
    • Testosterone may remain.
    • Require a fair amount of study.
    • Very effective in eliminating fertility
    • Likely to reduce or eliminate male-typical behavior
    • Individual differences – castrated males cannot compete – not likely to keep a harem.
    • Foal production may not be affected if some males remain intact.
  • Vasectomy – preserves male behavior.
    • No studies on chemical vasectomy in horses.
    • Has a lot of promise. Would need to be tested in stallions to see what kind of dose you need.
    • Should not be painful – no pain endings inside the testes where you put the chemical. Transient swelling possible.
    • Vasectomy – 100% effective.
    • No effect on behavior
    • Treated stallions should compete equally with intact stallions to acquire and hold harems.
    • Mares in harems headed by treated stallions do not conceive.
    • Caveat – mares in bands with an intact subordinate stallion may eventually conceive.
    • All stallions must be treated.
    • Some movement of mares between bands
  • Committee Recommendations:
    • Female directed: PZP Products and GonaCon
    • Male –directed:  Chemical vasectomy.
  • None of the methods is a magic bullet
  • All require gathers

“If you just say today that nothing works so we’re not going to bother, then who is going to step up to support that work? It behooves your group to think about how to support the R&D so that the options become what you need rather than just being frustrated that they aren’t what you need.”

Gave example of alliance of pharmaceutical/animal welfare/scientists and funding agencies to develop contraception for dogs and cats. Dr. Michaelson (?) gave $25 million prize and made $50 million available for development of that product.

“Money drives science. Doesn’t work to sit on your panel and be frustrated. Get more actively involved in community working on contraceptives.

NAVAJO WILD HORSE ROUNDUPS

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly addresses the Advisory Board

Roxie June, Principal Planner, Navajo Department of Agriculture  (NDA) and Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly made presentations to the Advisory Board, although the relevance to BLM wild horse and burro issues was not explained.

Despite the fact that the Navajo nation is sovereign, President Shelly stated his opinion that the federal government is responsible for dealing with the excess horse problem on the Navajo lands, based on the Livestock Reduction Act of 1934. He is asking for federal funding to underwrite the wild horse roundups that are currently underway.

Ms. June presented information about the drought and problems she said are caused by excess horses and other livestock. Some key points from her talk:
 

  • On July 18, 2013, the Navajo Nation Council approved $1.4 million for wild horse roundups. This was signed into law by President Shelly.
  • Funding is available only until the end of Fiscal Year 2013 (Sept. 30)
  • NDA hired 25 temporary staff who are paid $8.44 per hour
  • Reimbursing each chapter $30 per horse captured.
  • 65 of 110 Navajo chapters (73%) passed resolutions requesting roundups. The Shiprock Northern Agency Chapter rescinded its resolution. 36 chapters are on the waiting list. 
  • 2-3 chapters per roundup.
  • 66 transporting trips from field to DRE holding facility. July 29-August 31, 2013
  • 989 feral horses captured 8/1 – 9/10.
  • 24-hour-per-day operation. Trying to get done before end of FY 2013. Also were trying to complete before monsoon season but they didn’t achieve that goal.
  • Very difficult to capture the horses. With monsoons they don’t gather at the windmills – more scattered.
  • Gathering on horseback and with ATVs.
  • BIA has one or more representatives at all of the roundups.
  • 2 rangers are present per roundup site. (“Sometimes community people get upset so we have to have law enforcement there.”)
  • NDA  transports horses to central processing facility – each horse is documented – branded or unbranded.
  • People can claim unbranded horses. But if the person has more horses than they are allowed, the horses will be sold.
  • Unclaimed horses are sold to a buyer (Livestock Traders who are licensed by the Bureau of Natural Resources) and the buyer takes the horses.
  • The unbranded horses are removed as soon as possible because it costs money to feed them.
  • Go only if the chapter membership requests the roundup.
  • If no roundup is scheduled, they do right of way pick-ups. Drive the fenced sideways and pick up animals -- donkeys, sheep, horses, etc.
  • All done according to Navajo law.
  • Feral horses/livestock overpopulation/continuous drought conditions/ arid land base/climate change. Vicious cycle
  • Estimating by chapter, calculating a certain number of horses per person, arrive at estimate of 50,000 – 75,000 horses on the Navajo Nation.
  • They really don’t know how many there are – just got money for an aerial survey.
  • Hopi Reservation does not have wild horse problem/ they have very strict grazing control. Better funding for resource enforcement. Very good at enforcing grazing regulations on their land. The Hopi land is in very excellent condition. When the winds come and the sands blow in, the Hopi say all the sand is coming from Navajo lands.