Hors-Sens
Wrote asking for Support of my nomination to the Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board

The Nominations are now closed

A Few Thoughts on What May Be Done for the

Free-Roaming Horses and Burros on Public Lands

1-10-2017

A year ago there were over 67,000 head of free-roaming horses and burros on public lands.  This year it will be over 80,000 head and the count in 2018 may exceed 100,000 head unless Congress adequately funds the Wild Horse and Burro Program (WH & B Program) and/or allows excess horses to be sold without restraint.  If So Called Wild Horse Advocates (SCWHA) would let go of the myths and magical thinking surrounding wild horses to look at the abundant evidence showing free-roaming horses on healthy pastures double in population every 4 to 5 years they would stop using lawsuits to hamper the management of wild horses.  The free-roaming horse and burro population has reached a point of no return.  Congress must change the laws and empower judges to rule differently on the frivolous SCHWA lawsuits that are severely blocking the proper management of horses and burros.  Under the present funding and legislation, the BLM will be working miracles to simply slow growth.

The present “do nothing” option[1]:  Doing nothing will severely damage the public lands where the free-roaming horses are present and costs will be higher than either of the other options.  We will not only have the financial costs for managing the horse and burros but also the cost of severe damage to public lands. 

A poor option:[2]  Congress changes the legislation to prevent frivolous lawsuits that are preventing proper management of the free-roaming horses and burros.  Congress then needs to fund the gathering of 80,000 plus head ($44 million[3]), the removal of 53,000 plus head ($53 million in handling costs[4]), and one year of care for the removed horses ($150 million plus [5]) to just stabilize the free-roaming horse and burro populations at the Appropriate Management Level (AML).  Then the horses and burros may be managed for zero growth.  Additional funding needs added to the present budget[6] for a total budget of $323,000,000 (Yes, $323 million, 4.25 times the present budget).  These costs and the damage to the range will only increase with time. 

An excellent option[7]:  Congress changes the legislation to allow excess animals in the WH & B Program to be sold without restraint.  Selling 36 to 40 thousand horses and burros per year will allow on-range free-roaming horses and burros to be brought to the AML in two years with no additional funding.  Funding  to the WH &B Program could be cut substantially after the first two years.  The first two options are driven by myths and emotions with the “do nothing” option supported by congress.  This third option is supported by horse sense, logic and is both fiscally and environmentally sound.   

The “do nothing” option is our current course of action and unacceptable to me.  Horses suffer, game animals suffer, the ecosystem suffers and the local communities suffer.  It is presently the only option available in the WH & B Program.  The other two options need congressional action but also need to be discussed by the Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.  Maybe a recommendation could be sent directly to Congress!

Every dollar funded by Congress needs to be maximized to reduce population growth on the range.  One option is to take the money budgeted for adoptions and apply it to gathering horses and removing mares from the range.  Any mares returned to the range will be given birth control injections.  It costs $550 to remove a horse from the range and almost $2,000 to get a horse adopted.  Using the funds for gathers instead of adoptions will allow four mares to be removed from the range for each horse not adopted.  Removing four young mares will prevent 40 or more horses from entering the WH & B Program over a fifteen year period.  The mare receiving a birth control injection will prevent even more horses from entering the program.  Money well spent.  The return on investment for a forward-thinking approach is far greater than the emotion-backed adoption only option.

A horse owner will spend $2,000 to $3,500 a year to care for a horse.  If an owner can afford to keep a horse, they can afford to purchase a horse.  The WH & B Program should not be losing money on horse adoptions and needs to charge at least $2,500 per adoption to cover costs. The funds from selling a horse instead of giving it away could then be used to reduce population growth and remove horses from the range.

I have fresh ideas, know horses, understand the WH & B Program, say what needs said and am still able to work with others.   My website shows I have passion for the horses and the ability to organize my thoughts.  I am a good nominee for the “public interest (with special knowledge of equine behavior[8])” seat on the the Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board.[9]  If you believe I will be, I welcome a letter or email supporting my nomination.  Thank you for your time.

Gerald (Skip) Miller   

 

 



[1] Horses, big game and the entire ecosystem in the affected areas will and are suffering greatly from this option.

[2] This option will take longer and cost more than I have projected because it will be difficult to find short and long term pasture quickly and at a reasonable price.

[3] $550 per head.  Averaged the budgets from spring and fall 2016 for gathers.

[4] $1,000 per head for transportation, holding time and preparation for long term holding.

[5] $750 per month long term pasture holding.  $2000 per month short term corral holding.

[6] 76 million dollars approximately.

[7] Almost all the horses sold will be shipped to Mexican and Canadian slaughter houses adding hundreds to more than a thousand miles to their trip and may be treated per the laws of the country they are shipped to.  It is also shipping a product that will have value added.  Why not keep those jobs and the profit in the United States?  The horses will also suffer less.

[8] I grew up on a ranch with 3 stud bunches, 60 to 70 saddle horses, 20 plus working draft horses, a string of rough stock to provide rodeos with bareback and saddle bronc horses with another 100 plus horses being held to break or sell later.  Before 1971 we also gathered free-roaming horses and helped keep their population from exploding as it has now.  Unlike Wild Horse Annie’s mustangers we used humane methods.  I have experience handling and breaking many types of horses and learned from some of the best horsemen in the area.  I was the 4th generation of my family to manage horses in southern Oregon.  When the WH & B Act of 1971 took affect we could see problems coming and my father claimed the free-roaming horses on his BLM allotments.  In the following years we gathered close to a thousand head of horses from the range.  We gathered these horses to prevent the mess on many Herd Management Areas today, not so we could run more cattle. 

 

[9] I grew up around horses and liked them as everyone in my family did.  I know the history of the free-roaming horses in the areas I grew up in and the part my family played.  It saddens me to see the SCWHA’s misguided myths and emotions promoting the mismanagement of free-roaming horses which leads to horses suffering from starvation and a lack of water.  The range and surrounding ecosystem suffers as well.  The advocates are rewriting history by pushing their myths as the truth.  It bothers me to see then rewriting history, it is my family’s history.  I want to be a member of this board to stop the suffering of the horses, to protect range I grew up on from being destroyed and protect the true history of the free-roaming horses.




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