BLM PROPOSED GATHER AND REMOVAL
Wild Horses of America’s response to BLM
We’re reaching out to ask for your help.  As you may have heard there is a proposal to gather and remove a lot of horses from the Onaqui Mountain Herd.

While the numbers are not set in stone, there is a grave possibility that the herd could be knocked down to low Appropriate Management Level (AML).  That would mean removing “over 325” horses from a herd that is estimated to be around 450 horses (not counting the 2017 foals), which would leave only 121 horses on the range.  It would be devastating to the herd and the people who enjoy seeing them in the wild.

We feel that removing 72% of the herd is a bad plan.

“We feel that the proposal to reach low Appropriate Management Level (AML) by removing over 325 horses would be devastating to the dynamics and health of the herd, and to the people who regularly follow, observe, and visit the Onaqui Mountain Herd….While some question the value of America’s wild horses and burros since they do not often put dollars directly into anyone’s pocket, I believe that they provide great value to those who are uplifted by observing wild horses in their natural habitat.”
Jim Schnepel, Wild Horses of America Foundation
Please submit your written comments by October 31st, 2017 (4pm MST):

Email:  blm_ut_cedarmt_onaqui@blm.gov

Mail:
Bureau of Land Management
Salt Lake Field Office
2370 South Decker Lake Boulevard
Salt Lake City, UT 84119

Subject  (for email and mail):  Population Control, Gather, and Research for the Onaqui Mountain Wild Horse Herd Management Area Project

The full text of the Wild Horses of America Foundation’s response can be found HERE.

The BLM’s letter can be found HERE.

The Sage Grouse and Oanqui Map can be found HERE.

While a personally written letter will hold more weight, you can also sign our Change.org petition:
https://www.change.org/p/bureau-of-land-management-save-the-onaqui-wild-horses

WHAT TO WRITE?
You can read the letter we plan to submit, above.  Or, since it is a long read, and it’d be better to write in your own words, here are some items we think are important:

  • We’re concerned about any horses removed from the range because “euthanasia” is still on the table as an option for clearing out the horses in holding.
  • The horses provide value to those who visit them on the range, and who see them in pictures. They are also valuable as a legacy of the “wild west.”
  • The proposed removal of 325 horses would be about a 72% reduction. In addition to being devastating to the horses and their family groups, it would greatly reduce the value to the public since they would be more difficult to find. And, there very well could be genetic viability problems.
  • We feel that the range is big enough, and has enough resources, for all animal users at current stocking levels:  horses, grazers, wildlife.
  • We think that the current the current AML (121-210 horses) is too low, particularly the low end of AML.
  • We don’t think that fire restoration and sage grouse habitat are reasons to remove the existing horses.  With that said, we think herd growth needs to be controlled with contraception so the herd does not continue to increase in size.
  • We want to greatly increase the number mares that are treated with PZP  (contraception).
    If a gather does happen, we’d like to see the number of horses removed to be far below 325, and that the BLM focus on the more difficult to approach groups that occupy sage grouse habitat.

Writing to the BLM:

  • The philosophy of our group is that we can best enact changes that improve the lives of America’s wild horses by working with the BLM.
  • The BLM is tasked with managing our public lands for users with very disparate desires:  wildlife, grazing, minerals, horses & burros, recreation, etc. It’s impossible to keep every interest happy, and there are a lot of unhappy interest groups out there.
  • When you dig below the surface of the BLM’s external bureaucratic front you encounter real humans. Many of the employees who are involved with the wild horse and burro program love our wild horses.  Many of them are not advocates of killing the horses currently in holding as a solution. Many of them have horses of their own, including mustangs they have adopted.
  • In our experience, the BLM staff responds better when you treat them with respect. You can be firm and clear about how you think our wild horses should be managed, including this proposed gather of the Onaqui, but you will gain more ground if you keep it civil.

Make it personal (to you):

  • Be sure to write about what the Onaqui herd means to you. Do you visit it? Do you enjoy seeing them on social media? What issues are important to you, and what makes the wild horses valuable?
  • Try to offer concrete reasons to support why you want to see the herd managed in a certain way. Stating that the “horses deserve the land and we should let them run free” without offering some stats and solid reasoning on how this can be accomplished probably won’t go very far. Remember that there are other users (such as wildlife) of the range who won’t benefit from unchecked horse herds. Nor, ultimately, will the horses benefit if their numbers surpass the carrying capacity of the range.

We really appreciate any efforts you put in to helping save the Onaqui horses. It is a beautiful herd, and worth saving!

Jim Schnepel
Wild Horses of America Foundation

PS Please consider sending a copy (PDF) of your letter to us and we will post it on our website.  Email:  jim@wildhorses.org