Friday, May 8, 2020

Horses as Native North American Part 3

Horses as Native North American part 3 

free-roaming horses and burros Act did not identify a specific acreage to be managed as habitat for wild horses and burros it recognized that animals roam on a landscape of mixed ownership over the years management units have been identified taking into consideration such factors as availability of water the presence of habitat for summer and winter range and conflicts with other resource values or land ownership to protect the property rights of private landowners the animals must be kept within herd management areas on public lands the agency works closely with private landowners to accomplish this we believe that the livestock resource is important we believe that the wildlife resource is important we also have a great deal of oil and gas activity Toronto mines coal mines power plants that said if we have one area that gets out of control it affects all of the others in the summer of 2009 the Rawlins field office in cooperation with the Rock Springs field office flew to population surveys since then our population has grown by about 25% because we're so far over our AML or appropriate management level we need to do a gather to maintain the range conditions in the herd management areas the horses are in very good shape the range is still in in really good condition and if we and if we manage these horses appropriately will maintain that will keep the range in in great shape will be providing habitat for the other wildlife species that are out there the largest populations of wild horses and burros are found on some of the least hospitable landscapes of the West the dry and barren Range lands of Nevada the Montezuma peak and the paymaster herd management areas are located in the northern part of the Mojave Desert these areas get no more than 3 to 4 inches of precipitation annually as you can see across the landscape we've got mostly shrub species here and there's very few grasses that are produced in the understory in fact there's a an example right here the grasses are small and then it don't comprise a large percentage of the plant community with limited water and forage ever-increasing herd populations and competition for food and water the animals often face a day-to-day struggle to survive the whole center of this Montezuma HMA is can almost devoid of vegetation especially anything edible for a horse or other grazing animals so I've seen it just breaks my heart it's turning into a Dust Bowl I pass right through where all the wild horses are and over the years I've seen many of the that are there they're starving to death people who do not live in the West I don't think really truly understand the circumstances that these animals live in and I really think that it's much more human to keep them at levels where they can be healthy and happy the horses don't have any nutritious forage the waters dry up the horses will decline in body condition and we'll end up with an emergency in the mid-1990s the horses were starving they were extremely thin the skin and bones and they were extremely sick we don't want our horses out here to suffer those type of consequences because these areas just aren't suited to them over population and the horse herds isn't it's an extreme problem in some areas if you've had to watch those herds and the little ones starve or die of dehydration or walk for miles and miles trying to find graze it's not a pleasant experience to go through it's very heartbreaking so gathering is one of the ways that they can handle that it's an absolute necessity you can see we're in the bottom of the Silver King herd management area we're down here in the valley we're in a winter fat site which is this plant right here it's very good for protein especially in the winter once it get to get freeze on it livestock really like it wild horses like it the problem is we're getting a lot of pressure the horses fill this valley from one end to the other down here in the bottom you can see lots of horses down here all winter long they don't move on they get enough storm that kind of fills up a few catch palms and they really just hit it what that results in is degradation of our rangeland this is what we call thoroughly well and as you can see you know the horses have actually dug this pond out it's got a pretty good flow to it it tends to stay about the same year-round if you come out this way just a little bit you'll notice the traffic and the heavy use getting into the spring now that's what's really creating our problem all the trails which have degraded their rangelands there's a lot of competition when the competition for the water increases it creates rangelands like this we want to see wild horses out here but we want to see healthy wild horses we don't want to seem deteriorating we don't want to see our Range lands deteriorating it takes a long time to replace this vegetation once it gets down to just dirt it makes it so it takes years and years of good water and strong vegetation to bring that back now to learn more about gathering horses with helicopters we take to the air over a herd management area in western Utah don't like to do much earlier the fact that you can't see the horses battle is very good and we usually have some sort of plan we know where where we're gonna start the day the middle issues Valley about six mile seven miles this is a very harsh environment here in western Utah and we're on site with two helicopters doing the gather to try to remove some of the horses and horses are literally traveling anywhere from 10 to 15 plus miles a day back and forth between forage and water water one of the things that the pilots are able to do in this area having the two helicopters is they can actually tag-team each other they can actually help each other spot versus it made you break away or additional animals that they might encounter the first helicopter might encounter a second band and decking up radio - the first helicopter and say hey I've got these horses can you watch him for me right away think we got four horses this is the group of horses that Alan started this way two days ago so these horses were brought over about half way and left them they were starting to get tired so they made their way over the hill down to water now they're right where we need it right where we can go go put them in the trap so basically a three-day process but now we can take him in today I would say that my job consists of probably 20% knowing how to fly the helicopter before the little experience a little time 80% of what we do in knowing and knowing courses but the behaviors are what they want to do I think they actually have to have the specialized experience or be carded in specifically hurting animals they go like this they're going at their own speed never money around they're not getting tired Italy this is about what 80% of you gather boys and walk and go in the direction you want we're getting Dan back watching what we want one of the things that we're really concerned about is we need to make sure that the horses are at all times good healthy condition and one of the one of the things that the helicopter pilot utilizes is if they see the horses that tend to maybe start getting tired they actually may just back off and even to the point of setting the helicopter on the ground letting the horses just go at a small easy trot before they even even get close to the trip feed then with Hagen animals this way that they can handle email we know that they can't go faster we move when you're a long way from the trap we take our time everything that we do if we can't get every Bridge every watch that we take in the song they always take into consideration what's going to be easy oh man so it's very important that we choose a trap site that we can safely and effectively gather wild horses and this trap site has actually been used since the early 80s this is a trap site where the horses normally would travel anyway for coming in and Alan dragged behind the big bunch more coming on their own the quality of the pilots in the key success with this project because the experience that they have really makes for breaks whether the other operation success it has nothing to do with your age I think anybody if you if you love animals and you want a horse that's good for you I mean it 63 I got my first Mustang I just think it's awesome in the summer of 2010 BLM staged one of the largest wild horse and burro roundups in recent history based out of the Eagle Lake field office in Susanville it took place in an area known as Twin Peaks this vast and magnificent stretch of western landscape covers nearly eight hundred thousand acres most of it public land because of its size and complexity the Bureau managed the Twin Peaks gather under the incident command system originally developed in the 1970s in the wildland fire program it has been refined over the years to manage other incidents such as natural disasters under a well-defined command structure this organizational tool brings staff and incident resources together to efficiently manage highly complex events and projects twin Pete's was the first time it was used for wild horse operations operationally we'd like to collect as many horses as we can during the gather and for us that would be optimally that would be 2,200 horses that would be about a hundred percent however we know that's not going to be achieved if we get 90% that would be great an appropriate manager level for this HMA herd management area is 450 horses the decision to gather at Twin Peaks was based on a methodical population census of horses and burros conducted periodically by the BLM and on comprehensive scientific evaluations of the land and its resources this monitoring examined the conditions of soil forage Water Resources and riparian and wetlands habitat poorest populations are established through our land use planning process this planning process is open to the public it's lengthy and it involves scientific data and public opinion in order to set horse population an environmental assessment is used to determine if a gather is necessary this would include looking at the impacts the horses are having on the land it also might find out that I gather is not necessary at all so there would be no action needed during the data analysis for our Twin Peaks environmental assessment we determined that wild horses and burros were consuming three to five times their forage allocation within the herd management area what this means on the ground is they were having severe impacts for our riparian areas we were seeing lack of vegetation destabilized banks and in general just poor functioning conditions in comparison to the horse numbers livestock use in the Twin Peaks HMA was much lower during the same time period cattle use was only about 60% of their allocated forage and sheep use was about 32% our range management it's based on the condition of the land and so we're always trying to maintain a healthy landscape and that of course fluctuates with drought and wet seasons and the amount of use that's demanded on multiple use lands and so for us it's about forage and water cattle are managed they're managed year-round they're removed from the range they're put back in at certain times there's a certain number based on amount of forage we believe is out there at any given time if there's a drought situation then we can pull the cattle off if they're overusing certain areas we can pull the cattle off wildlife is not allocated forage but wildlife also uses the same water sources and similar forages that cattle and horses would use and of course in their horses and their allocated a certain amount of forage and horses we we don't manage year-round horses are out there year-round and they're using the land and they're using the riparian areas water sources year-round so that's all balance to determine how many cattle how many horses and then to keep an account that the wildlife are also impacted by those numbers path to get there is safety humane treatment public accessibility and transparency another unique part of the Twin Peaks gather was unprecedented public access against the backdrop of this controversial and at times highly emotional program the agency strive to enable the public to see firsthand BLM's humane treatment of the animals under its care during all phases of gathering and holding operations I think one of the benefits of completing the Twin Peaks gather in such an open and transparent process was that it gave us an opportunity to demonstrate to the public what a challenge it is to have BLM's multiple use mission large-scale public access required extensive planning and greatly increase the actual cost of the Twin Peaks gather we need to get the job done and as safely and as efficiently as possible and law enforcement is a key component of that observers can with with very little effort on their part disrupt or interfere with a significant amount of work that's gone into getting the horses to the trap site so it's a delicate balance between allowing the observers to observe but also providing for that ultimate safety of the horses there were many challenges involved in the logistics of safely allowing members of the public to watch the inherently unpredictable process of capturing large numbers of wild horses and burros in such a remote and desolate location it really comes down selecting what's best for the safety of the horses and taken into account view into the public now in a safe distance and just operationally how they the most horses into the trap site safely throughout its history BLM's wild horse and burro program has sparked controversy individuals and organizations have had strong feelings and at times have taken exception to BLM's management of wild horses and burros at Twin Peaks we talked to some of these individuals I'm not against the BLM don't get me wrong I'm not against the the other agency charged with their protection manager which is the Forest Service I just want them to do their job fairly and be fair to these animals and give them their rightful share no a little piece of freedom a piece of land out here in the in these vast wide-open spaces if they have to be taken off the range they should be in their family groups right now it would reduce the stress it would reduce the risk of injury it would do all manner of better things to make it about what's better for the horses and not just what's convenient to the people my concern is that they're being excessively rounded up that they're taking far too many and leaving far too few for such a vast area of nearly eight hundred thousand acres you realize an acre is about the size of a football field I'm aware I've reviewed the environmental assessment I'm aware that the allocation for livestock is about 82 percent of the forage where it's at for wild horses it's the remainder and then the wildlife too after many months of planning and preparation the Twin Peaks gather began just after dawn on August 11th a helicopter lifted off to find horses and burros on the range and began hurting them to a capture point the first days of the gather were conducted at a location called the skedaddle home range in the weeks that followed gather operations move to another area so the horses and burros were closer to the trap site once a band of horses was located the helicopter began moving them in the general direction of the trap as the helicopter carefully herded the animals in the direction of the trap wings extending out on either side of their path funneled the horses into a temporary Corral this is what we are what we call jute it's a very soft fabric it's made up of just rope and it acts as a visual barrier for the horses so we can funnel them in into the to the Crouse if they were to come in contact with this it's very soft and pliable it's actually very easily just to break through this in and a very humane way of directing the animals into the trap the helicopter often stayed 1/4 mile to a half mile away from the animals approaching closer only when necessary to keep the horses moving or to change their direction as the pilot moved the horses closer to the trap he radioed Wranglers on the ground that they were coming in a domestic guide horse was led by a Wrangler to the entrance of the trap wings other Wranglers hid alongside the wings waiting for the horses to run by the guide horse who was trained to gallop in front of the wild horses was released and led the animals into the portable Corral once the horses were rested and settled they were transported a short distance to a holding Corral where they were examined by a veterinarian injuries that may have occurred during the gather were immediately treated as were any preexisting injuries the horses may have sustained before the gather small foals were moved separately to keep them from being hurt by larger horses later they were reunited with their mares at the corral consistent with the bureau's management approach a number of strong healthy horses were returned to the range to repopulate the herd but before they were released back into the wild they were fries marked and records were made of their age and color the mayors were vaccinated with porcine zona pellucida or pzp a drug to control fertility the rate at which wild horses reproduce has been an ongoing challenge for BLM since the 1970s the bureau works with organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States and invests an ongoing research to develop more effective methods of fertility control the objectives of this research are to acquire a science-based fertility control program that can serve as the primary means of maintaining healthy horse populations in the wild and to dramatically reduce the need to remove animals from the range BLM's ultimate goal is to balance the amount of excess horses removed from Western rangelands every year with the number of horses annually adopted by members of the public what we're doing now is actually releasing the last load of mares we're releasing back out this way this is a kind of best place to leave them because this is all their home range out here and we've had them facing that way that way we're not really releasing towards people can't keep everybody back see right now all the horses are all towards the back of the trailer what's up guys will do is kind of get him to go forward get them off the gate so they can open a gate hopefully a merciful you know fall through it takes all going forward then they'll carefully open the gate obviously gonna get kicked they don't want to use their flag semester just to see just a little bit they want to scare let one find one get her head out the door see just like that and they'll all start going nice and easy can't beat it the gather at Twin Peaks that began in August was concluded six weeks later the operation was successful in reducing the populations of wild horses and burros in the area to the upper range of appropriate management levels I would have to say for anybody out there contemplating a Mustang to go for it from gather sites across the West the animals now begin the first part of a journey that will take them to greener pastures where many will find new homes with caring adopters horses and burros gathered from the range will first be transported to one of BLM's many preparation facilities where they will be examined receive immunization against equine diseases and be registered in a database once the horses are brought in from the range they're unloaded off the trucks and for the most part they're already separated by the different sex classes so then we just put

 them on feed and water and rest all our facilities provide proper feed water and medical care the feed that we put them on is a low carbohydrate low protein feed similar to what they're used to on the range and then we slowly transition them into a more of a domestic domesticated feed the horses are brought up from a large holding pin and they're conveyed through an alley system into the tub in shoot area the tub where we hold the larger group of animals is round there's no sharp corners in it once they're in the tub and shoot area then there comes single-file through an alley into the squeeze chute so we open the door the squeeze chute the individual animal comes in the doors close behind it and then the horse is squeezed up and snuggly but not overly tight then we administer vaccinations the vaccinations are very important for disease prevention in these facilities when these horses come in from the range unvaccinated they're they're naive to domestic horse diseases so we give the and vaccines in order for prevention for that and then age determination is done by the veterinarian we have some special metal sticks that we put in the horse's mouth so we can see the teeth and then depending on to shape angle eruption determines the age of the animal well 50 and then after that deworming medication is administered orally to the animal once those steps are done then we shaved the neck the hair on the neck down to skin level this is where we're going to apply the free brand about an adult horse we leave a freeze mark on there are three sign on there for approximately 30 seconds what that does is it alters the hair follicles in the neck and in about six to eight weeks that hair grows back white in color and the color or the white areas on there resemble the freeze mark then we hang a neck tag around the animal's neck this is a numeric four digit number that each animal gets it's part of their their fries brand their fries identification then we record all the information into our database the fries mark of the animal the color their color markings and then we can track these animals individually through adoption and titling one month later they're brought back in for another set of booster vaccinations so they get the acquired immunity that they need after that's completed then these horses are available for the adoption program the BLM prepares horses and burros for adoption here at Indian lakes near Fallon Nevada and at other preparation facilities including Palomino Valley Nevada Rock Springs Wyoming Burns Oregon ridge crest California and Susanville California we're here at the Litchfield crowds just outside of Susanville Northern California's wild horse and burro preparation facility we're going to show you around the facility today and you can see some of the wild horses and burros that we have inside and that will be available for adoption soon you can see these are pretty big pens actually most of these pens range in size from four to seven acres it's not a pretty big area it's bigger than a lot of people's property that keep horses these horses had plenty of room to run around chase play get away from each other and just be horses they were standing here next to one of our burro pens this pen has Jack and gelding Burroughs people really like to adopt the burros are very cute but they are also good for driving tacking riding people using for guard animals to protect their sheep and goat from coyotes so we hope that if you're interested in adopting abroad you come on out and get one in addition to public adoptions held at some of the BLM preparation facilities the agency also takes the adoption program on the road transporting horses and burros to adoption events in communities throughout the country I want to welcome you to the Bureau of Land managements wild horse and burro adoption and to the Midland County Fairgrounds adoptions by internet have provided another means of introducing the public to America's living legends and finding good homes for the animals with caring and qualified adopters we're bidding on geni 90 to 69 we have normally bid for 125 while the BLM is eager to find homes for the animals the agency's detailed application screening an inspection process ensures that the horses and burros are placed with those who are qualified to care for them among other requirements adopters must demonstrate that they have adequate feed water and facilities to provide humane care for the animals since the passage of the wild free-roaming horses and burros Act in 1971 the BLM has placed more than 220,000 wild horses and burros into the care of private citizens the BLM along with the Nevada Commission for the preservation of wild horses contributed to the creation of the Mustang Heritage Foundation the BLM now works with the foundation and sponsoring extreme Mustang makeover competitions which showcase the abilities and benefits of adopting America's living legends horse trainers young and old from around the country train wild horses for approximately 90 days getting them ready to ride they then compete at many regional and national events most importantly the Mustang Heritage Foundation helps BLM by promoting horse adoptions providing saddle ready horses to Americans wanting to adopt and raising awareness with the public of the need for good homes for these animals partnerships with correctional facilities allow inmates to saddle train Mustangs benefitting the adoption program and the rehabilitation of inmates who work with the horses seeking to provide more trained wild horses that may be more appealing to adopters the BLM is exploring other partnerships or contractual arrangements for the training of animals to be adopted some of the horses gathered from the range have little likelihood of being adopted because of advanced age or other characteristics but these horses will also find new homes where they will be cared for humanely we ensure that the excess horses either are taken to good homes that the public take care of or they're taking to long-term pastures where they can live out their lives when it's determined that they are not there's not a demand for that animal and it's going to actually go to one of our long-term holding pastures then they are loaded on a straight deck truck those trucks then we'll go to a long-term holding facility and they will be offloaded at their Corral and they'll be able to go into their pens where they're watered and fed for that night from those pens they have what they call traps which are five to ten acres and those horses will be led out into the traps and for anywhere from a week to two week period of time they'll be done in a transition period this is very very important they learn that there's a truck they learn the sound of the truck and the most important thing of all as they learn that truck is feet and they like that feet and so when they actually get them used to that and horses start coming up to it then they will gradually let them follow the truck out to the larger pastures which you'll well do at that point in time and then they'll be out the pastures the grass is like a real emerald green I mean it's so green and they like chasing the green so they're just kind of running across grabbed a little bites of green grass and then as the year goes on and turns into from the spring into the summer you're going to have this grass that is up to their hocks we have project inspectors that actually is in contact with the contractors on a daily basis they make rounds and periodically go and check the horses talk to the contractors they make sure that if there's any problems that they're dealt with the wild horse and burro specialists that work for BLM do this job because they honestly really love horses they don't want anything bad to happen to these horses and they're looking at the whole picture because if you don't take excess horses off of the range and have a place for them then those horses will suffer if you don't place them in good homes then those horses will suffer and if you don't have a place to put these horses for the rest of their lives and large pastures so that they can have a free roaming bout they will suffer so the horse specialists in all aspects of the program honestly care very very much about these horses it's a passion it's not a nine-to-five job a believe me it's not a nine-to-five job it is a job that you only do it because you love the animals and you love what you're doing they love you they you know that you are one-of-a-kind for them and you're not like just any other person for a Mustang they see you as someone special they exist in teeming populations never imagined when the laws to protect wild horses and burros were enacted some 33,000 horses and 4700 burros can be found today roaming millions of acres of public lands the Bureau of Land Management can continue to provide responsible and caring stewardship for these living legends of the American frontier wild horse and burro herds can exist in balance with other public uses and values succeeding in this however requires that herds be maintained at populations the land can support without effective and vigilant management the health of the herds and the health of the lands they inhabit will be at risk they are part of the rich and colorful history of the American West and a cherished part of our public lands legacy a legacy that belongs to all Americans their history reminds us that there is an important role for the public in the continuing stewardship of wild horses and burros Kenny's legacy wild horses encompasses more one it tells us the one person can make a difference she told us how readily important her public lands are for generations to come how protecting it finding out about it learning about it helping with it that's a legacy and maybe finally that my children's children would be able to go out and see wild horses running across public rangelands that are healthy so I believe her legacy stretches over many facets and it was probably all inspired by a love of the land 

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