PLANS INCLUDE ZEROING-OUT WEST DOUGLAS HERD AREA AND ROUNDUP OF PICEANCE-EAST DOUGLAS HERD MANAGEMENT AREA
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. (Feb. 10, 2015) – On January 30, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) White River Field Office issued a scoping document calling for the removal of all wild horses within the West Douglas Herd Area (WDHA), as well as the removal of 167 wild horses from Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area (PEDHMA) in order to reach an “appropriate” management level (AML).
“This is the just the latest BLM assault on wild horse herds living on our public lands,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF). “BLM bristles at being accused of managing wild horses to extinction, but how else would one characterize the zeroing out of an entire herd?”
BLM’s website states, “The BLM protects, manages, and controls wild horses and burros on public lands to ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands.” However, their actions paint a different picture. In 1971, 339 wild horse and burro herds were identified for protection on 53.8 million acres of public land. Today, only 179 herds remain and they are managed on fewer than 26 million acres (not including the zeroing out of 1263 mustangs living on 1.2 million acres of Wyoming checkerboard lands in Sept. 2014).
The BLM scoping document states: “wild horse removals are necessary to protect rangelands from the impacts on Sage Grouse.” No mention is made of the degraded state of the range due to thousands of head of privately-owned livestock in these areas. BLM states that reduction of livestock would not be “in conformance with the existing land use plan, is contrary to the BLM’s multiple-use mission as outlined in the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), and would be inconsistent with the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro’s Act (WFRHBA) . . .”
“Livestock grazing is a privilege, not a right, and permits can be reduced or revoked per BLM Regulations (43 CFR § 4710.5) states Kathrens. “To assert that reducing the number of welfare livestock, which cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year, in some way violates FLPMA and the Wild Horse and Burro Act is ridiculous.”
The Cloud Foundation, Toni and Don Moore and numerous advocate groups and individuals have been fighting to preserve the West Douglas Herd on Colorado’s Western Slope for decades. “We’ve been keeping BLM in check from repeated attempts to zero out the West Douglas Herd though a series of petitions and legal actions beginning in the early 1990’s,” states TCF Board Member, Toni Moore.
In the most recent court ruling in 2009 when BLM attempted to zero out the West Douglas herd, U.S District Court Judge Collyer enjoined BLM from removing any wild horses from the herd.
“Mustangs have roamed the area long before Colorado was even a territory, let alone a state,” says Toni Moore. She has traced the history of wild horses in WDHA back to the 1600’s when the horses were brought here from settlements in New Mexico and Old Mexico by the Ute Tribe. The narrative of the journey of the priest explorers, Fathers Dominquez and Escalante in 1776 indicates they were met by mounted Utes in the area of the Canyon Pintado Historical Area, which is partially located in the West Douglas Herd Area..
“It would be so sad to lose this rich chapter of Colorado history,” says Dr. Don Moore, who grew up in nearby Rangely, CO and has visited the West Douglas Herd since he was five years-old. “Wild horse herds are the legacy of the American people, and we have a responsibility to protect them for future generations.”
Comments regarding the proposals are due on February 14, 2015 and can be mailed to Melissa Kindall, WRFO, 220 E. Market Street, Meeker, CO 81641 or submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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