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Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Arizona GFDept. vs. Wild Horses and Burros, June 25, 2010

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on June 25, 2010

I recieved the following news story in one of my news alerts by email this morning. At first, I didn’t think that much of it simply because of the title; we’ve all heard it before. But when I clicked on the link anyway I found that there was a whole lot more to it that just the same old song and dance. The links in the supplemental story are just… well… I let you decide… T.

From the, The Conservative Voice of Arizona

Horse and burro management must be balanced with wildlife and other natural resource needs

JUNE 23, 2010 DENVER – Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles this week told the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board that federal proposals to change how wild horses and burros are managed must have a goal of ensuring a thriving ecological balance between horses and burros and wildlife, and include the involvement of state wildlife agencies.
Speaking on behalf of the Arizona Game and Fish Department in collaboration with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) at the board’s public meeting in Denver, Voyles stated that the proposals should ensure the existence of horses and burros as intended in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, but cannot allow them to greatly expand their presence and create disastrous impacts on habitat and native wildlife across the West.
“The Wild Horse and Burro Act was initiated when horses and burros were in danger of disappearing from the western landscape. The Act and the Bureau of Land Management have essentially done their jobs to ensure this doesn’t happen, as wild horse and burro populations have grown substantially and are not in any danger of being eliminated,” said Voyles.
Voyles agreed that the current implementation approach to horse and burro management isn’t sustainable and that changes are needed, but he said he would expect any new federal initiative to fix the program, not grow it; and he expressed support for Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s efforts to build solutions within the existing body of law and regulation.
Voyles stressed the importance of managing horse and burro herds, pointing out that under the current protections provided by the Act, horse and burro populations have proven to be very prolific, and only very active management prevents over-population in many areas.
The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the Wild and Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act.
The advisory board conducted the June 14-15 Denver workshop and meeting to provide the public with an opportunity to express their views and comments regarding Secretary Salazar’s Wild Horse and Burro Initiative, which he and BLM Director Bob Abbey announced last October.
The public has the opportunity to provide comment on the strategy development document implementing the Wild Horse and Burro Initiative. To access the document and provide the BLM with comment, visit and click on the link titled “BLM Director Seeks Input for New Direction in National Wild Horse and Burro Program.” Comments must be submitted by Aug. 3, 2010.
For more information on wild horse and burro management as it relates to wildlife conservation, visit /WildHorseBurro.shtml (See story below…)

From the Arizona Game and Wildlife Department:

Commission Opposes Wild Horse and Burro Amendments

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission OPPOSES passage of either the House or Senate versions of the Restore Our American Mustangs Act (ROAM), because of their potential adverse impacts to wildlife and habitat.

Watch the video presentation on wild horse and burros in Arizona given at the Jan. 13. 2010 webcast/seminar.

The U.S. Senate is currently considering the Restore Our American Mustangs Act (ROAM), which would amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. An amended version of this bill (H.R. 1018) passed the U.S. House of Representatives on July 17, 2009 and was sent to the Senate. Both the versions of the legislation (H.R. 1018 and S.1579) are currently assigned to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and await possible consideration.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted at its Sept. 11 meeting to OPPOSE both the House and Senate versions of this bill because provisions in the bill would expand wild horse and burro populations to all public land and greatly complicate management of wild horse and burro herds. Expanding management of free-roaming horses and burros to all public lands will have devastating impacts to the long-term sustainability of the public’s wildlife resources and habitat.

In a Sept. 30 letter to Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, the commission expressed concerns about the following provisions in the bill:

  1. Removing the restriction on limiting wild horses and burros to areas where they were found in 1971. This would lead to a massive range expansion with widespread direct and cumulative impacts to wildlife resources. Currently, the Wild Horse and Burro Program is underfunded and understaffed. Any significant increase of acreage or animals would limit personnel and funding solely for purposes of crisis management – such as responding to lawsuits for damage to wildlife habitat. Under this scenario, wild horse and burro populations, costs, and resource impacts would spiral out of control.
  2. Requiring that the acreage available for wild and free-roaming horses and burros shall never be less than the acreage where they were found when the Act was passed in 1971. Due to resource conflicts, many of the areas where wild horses and burros were found in 1971 were not designated as Herd Management Areas and were managed for a zero population level. This provision of ROAM alone would instantly increase the acreage available for wild horses and burros by more than 13.7 million acres.
  3. Requiring the BLM and United States Forest Service (USFS) to exhaust all practicable options before capturing and removing wild horses and burros. This would delay necessary removal operations, slowing down an already cumbersome removal approving process. Also, managers may be reluctant to push for removals until resource damage is obvious. With a population growth rate of 15-20%, wild horse and burro populations can double in 4-5 years. In our fragile southwestern habitats, an overpopulation of horses and burros can quickly lead to habitat and watershed degradation.
  4. Limiting the amount of time captured burros and horses can be held in corrals and holding facilities to 6 months. Due to inadequate adoption demand, and with few other options available, many wild horses removed from the range because of overpopulation would likely have to be returned to the overpopulated range after 6 months – or they may have to be transported to a different range, expanding the distribution of the animals, the associated costs, and the habitat damage.
  5. Requiring the identification of new rangelands and sanctuaries – or exclusive use areas – for wild horses and burros. This directive would elevate the importance of one species above all other species that use the range, severely impacting the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s ability to manage wildlife populations. It is also inconsistent with the multiple use mandates in the Federal Lands Management Act of 1976. 
  6. Revoking a provision that allows the BLM to destroy old, sick and lame animals; and excess horses and burros for which an adoption demand does not exist. This would increase costs of holding and long-term care, which would decrease the availability of funds for removals and surveys. Due to limited funds and holding facilities, managers would have to return more animals back onto the range – exacerbating resource damage.
  7. Allowing the BLM and USFS to relocate wild horses and burros to public lands where they did not exist before the Act. This would have the effect of increasing and spreading the impacts to wildlife habitats, but it may be the land managers’ only recourse given the restrictive provisions in these measures for controlling wild horse and burro populations. Relocating wild horses and burros will only transplant the problem and could increase the problem beyond the Wild Horse and Burro Program’s ability to control it. This would lead to extreme, and geographically expanding, population growth and habitat damage.
  8. Requires that an adoption demand exists prior to capturing wild horses and burros. Over the years it has been demonstrated that there is not sufficient adoption demand to keep up with wild horse and burro population growth. This provision would cause wild horse and burro populations to remain on the range at levels beyond its ability to support them and the wildlife that depend on the same resources.

The commission believes that a more effective strategy to manage wild horse and burro populations is to adequately fund the current Wild Horse and Burro Program. The current Act, if adequately funded, has built-in checks and balances to prevent overpopulation and reduce resource damage on the range. It would be much more cost effective to increase funding for the current program than to expand the distribution of wild horses and burros, which would increase adverse impacts to natural resources.

  • Copy of the commission’s letter to Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl [PDF, 40kb]

Testimony from Arizona Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles to House Natural Resources Subcommittee

In March 2009, Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles told a congressional committee that the ROAM bill (H.R. 1018) could result in adverse impacts to wildlife and habitat, as well as to the horses and burros the legislation seeks to further protect. He offered several recommendations on ensuring a viable future for each.

Testimony from Arizona Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles to National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board

In June 2010, Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles told the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board that federal proposals to change how wild horses and burros are managed must have a goal of ensuring a thriving ecological balance between horses and burros and wildlife, and include the involvement of state wildlife agencies, as intended in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

Background on wild horse and burro management

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, as amended by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 and the Public Rangeland Improvement Act of 1978, directs the protection and management of wild horses and burros on public lands.

Responsibility for protecting, managing and controlling wild horse and burro populations on federal lands falls to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the USDA Forest Service.

For information on the wild horse and burro program and related management issues, visit the BLM’s Web site at and click on the “Information Center” link in the box at the right.


35 Responses to “Arizona GFDept. vs. Wild Horses and Burros, June 25, 2010”

  1. sandra longley said

    Living in the west, I would have to say this is a crock-mule deer in some areas have increased by 900%, hunting has become the “sport of the wealthy”, people hunt now for recreation not need..the younger generation is not interested in hunting..The biggest problem you might have is declining populations fo deer and elk especially in the colorado area from disease,-cronic wasting disease…which may have come from cattle or is a disease simular to mad cow disease. The Fish and Game like all government deptartments is looking for money and attention-with so few endangered must attack somewhere try to get public me a wildlife crisis other than man made-ie the gulf, energy developements and human encroachment, and you will have my attention and support. More animals will die this year from disease and being hit on a highway..than starve to death…deer and elk are losing their winter habitat from development in those areas..focus your attention on the real problems associated with wildlife. Did not hear that addressed at ALL.!

    • What’s even more interesting is the amount of wildfires in Arizona…

      • sandra longley said

        True as has Nevada and Calif..How many wild horse and burrors does Arizona have..not many left..I used to see herds as I drove across Nevada and arizona, this country successfully supported those there are only a few..I never see the wild horses and burrors when i drive across the desert anymore..and they want the few we have left gone…problem is these people have no sense of history..where we have been and where we are now..and what is the cause of the problem..they are afraid to attack the users and abusers of the land because they can and will strike they attack the defenseless.

    • sandra longley said

      Many of the big cattle ranches in the west used to be open to hunting, now they are closed and public wildlife is being hunted on these ranches, at anywhere between $2,000 to 10,000 for a “trophy”..Ranches are issued numbers of permits-by the fish and game to allow for the fact that the animals “cause damage to the ranchers forage for his…cows”..Is this all sounding a little familiar?? Ranchers will bait the elk and deer in using salt and feed on their property to cultivate these herds..again we have a case of private industry using the publics resources for their own gain..and how is the fish and game spending their time…by trying to satisfy their best customer..the few..not the many

      • sandra longley said

        I might add-New Mexico and Arizona have some of the most luctrative Elk hunts on those ranches..Its corporate.

  2. sandra longley said

    I do want to clarify my posistion..I am not anti hunting…my friends and family would string me up to the nearest tree..if they could catch me..I am for balance and truth..And the truth is ..the Rocky Mountain Elk foundation and Ducks unlimited have done more for the wildlife than the fish and game and parks ever has..they have ponied up and bought huge tracts of land that are critical habitat and winter feed and calving or nesting areas, while the government is selling off parcels of public lands to private interests..Our problems in this country doesn’t stem from too much government..but ineffective and corrupt government..we need to make government work..not get rid of take that you teapartiers…

    • Jeff Hudson said

      Kudos to you and I agree fully. Though the current president of the RMEF has publicaly said that the wild horses need to go for more elk hunting to happen. Needless to say I am no longer a memeber with that stance. Tea party = tea baggers LOL

      Missoula MT resident home of the RMEF

  3. sandra longley said

    My last words on the subject..I promise” Teddy Roosevelt” was responsable for establishing the idea of “National Parks’ where wildlife could be protected, and lanscapes preserved, for all to enjoy..He was also a most avid hunter and outdoorsman..Enough said..

  4. My first and last word on the subject Sandra, is animals are sentient beings and there is a natural balance in nature that man has upset. Why don’t you take a gun and try and kill an animal. Look it straight in the eye and kill it. I then hope your family strings you up.

    • Jo,
      I am not sure if there is a misunderstanding or what exactly is happening here but it seems that you feel offended. Of course, offense is not the intention of most of our contributors – especially to fellow contributors – so I am wondering what has made you upset so that we can possibly remedy this.

    • sandra longley said

      Let me tell you a story Jo..I have looked an animal in the eye and killed it, not for the thrill but because it was hit on the highway, not by me but by some lilly livered person that didn’t have the guts to do it, it was a fawn, its back was broken, it was screaming and its mother kept dashing out into the road..I didn’t have a gun, all i had was my knife so I slit its animal should be left to suffer..on the other hand i have saved the lives of countless wild life, fawns rabbits squirrels name say nothing of the jillions of petitions i gotta better story..lets hear it

  5. My experience is similar to Sandra’s. My friends hunt to feed their families game in fall and winter. That is still important across the nation; deer, elk, game birds, ducks and geese. Hunters have been conservationists for over a century. Many have been swayed by the impersonal canned hunts and have worked hard to protect what we have from this kind of outrageous activity. States are banning those hunts.

    Government has lost track of its self in the last 10 years. DOI has become a threat to so much we cannot afford to let this important agency continue as it has unscathed by scandals and corruption. It needs to be stopped and reinvented. mar

  6. The easiest way to see through the lies of the BLM and croneys is just to look at the numbers.
    20,000 wild horses versus 9 million cattle with grazing permits.

    They act like as if those cows don’t even exist, or if they do not replace the horses with cattle after they are zeroed out.

    9 million cattle- 20,000 wild horses if we are lucky.

    Perhaps we should just pay for grazing permits for all those wild horses. At 1.35 per head, it wouldnt be all that expensive.

    BLM and forest service, one giant corrupt, lying, fraudulent bunch of crooks.
    How they still manage to fool anybody is beyond me.

    • Simone, I haveheard this figure before – 9 million. Can youpost a linkto the source for this???I have searched til I can’t see straight (literally, my eyes go a littlecrossed LOL) and I finally gave up a while back… T.

      • That is a good question, it is in their year end statement somewhere, the number comes from the BLM themselves. I dont have it saved on my computer either, but I should. I would like to find it also. Will look for it. Thanks.

        • said

          Awesome! Thx!

        • sandra longley said

          I found the figure of 9 million aums for cattle on BLM acres total of public lands grazing…..16,175,970 cattle aums..there is actually more on forest service/ usda than blm..these figures were 2004..check out this website for public grazing info.and damage from cattle also has the secret bush policys implemented that we are feeling the effects of eye opener..

          • sandra longley said

            found this..from the 1994 rangelands reform EIS. Elimination of all public land grazing would result in a loss of 18,300 jobs in ag and related industry.0.1 % of the wests total employment, comparable to what 1 casino in vegas employs.

        • sandra longley said

          Whoops that figure was 7 mill.86o thousand but that was 2004, but look at the 16+million figure for the combined total!!

  7. BLM has the ability to open allotments for grazing to horses. They have put it forth recently. It could help us regroup our captives and save some fine horses. The off balance decisions and prejudice is tipping so far it will fall over soon. On itself. Just so we are clear of it! mar

  8. Their proposal to buy private lands for the horses is propostruous. I move that they buy private lands to move all cattle there. Why should they get to use our public lands, nature, mountains valleys and lakes to make giant filthy cattle ranches and mining pits out of it?
    They are distroying America and our water sources. They are trying to distract from that fact by making it seem like they care about the environment and point the finger to the horses.
    Tooo ridiculous for words, WHY does anyone believe them??

    Giving away the rights to our public lands to the BLM is like giving away a gold mine to a gold thief and expecting him to manage it with integrity.

    • sandra longley said

      Agreed, I just read an article today on the olgalla aquifer..said to be the largest in the world runs thru the midwest…makes better economic sense to send the cows there than the horses..sad part was during the depression that dust bowl was sitting on top of the farmers salvation and they didn’t know it..course they created the dust bowl with antiquated farming methods that caused erosion..

      • The Ogalala Acquifer is also losing water and has affected some of the states it is beneath. It runs from Iowa to Nebraska down to New Mexico. It is not what it once was and the use of many windmills over many decades was damaging. mar



  10. MUST SEE!!!

  11. If people want to hunt, fine, but don’t try to run the horses off the land area they were promised because hunters want more hunting grounds. To me, that’s hardly a reason to oppose the horses having their FAIR share of PUBLIC LAND. It’s my land just as much as it is theirs, and I want HORSES.

    Why is the BLM holding the Twin Peaks roundup in the heat of the summer. Because hunters complained that a fall roundup would disturb the game with the noise of the ‘copters and would detract from their “hunting experience.” So, the horses get to run all those miles in the heat because of someone’s “hunting experience”? Please! The hunters will have next year. The horses won’t.

    • Janet Ferguson said

      That is the same reason Sparks (see Sparks affidavit on The Cloud Foundation website) gave for timing on the Pryor Roundup last September — a special hunt experience was “in the works.”

  12. Lisa LeBlanc said

    I ask this, now and always: When I hear one agency or another say how impossible the situation has become with Wild Equines versus Wildlife, how the Hell did these animals manage BEFORE they were ‘managed’?
    Did Equines & ruminants have bloody all-out turf wars, lines drawn in the sand or on the range where the Deer had one area, Elk over there, Pronghorns got the sh*tty neighborhood because they’re small, Big Horn got the mountains, Buffalo got the Plains, ground-nesting birds over here, raptors up there?
    I’m pretty sure NOT.
    But the Cougar, Wolf, Bear & Coyote kept them all in check.
    And I ask this, now and always: What exactly do these agencies do to ‘manage’ Wild Equines on the range?
    ‘Management’ would indicate an honest involvement in Herd structure and culture, a knowledge of something other than Domestic Horse logic. We see behaviors in Domestic Horses that borrow from Wild Equines, NOT the other way around.
    If they truly wished to ‘manage’ Wild Equines on the range, they should be learning from them, watching them, naming them & know their family trees. It should cause bleeding hives & migraines to have to issue a ’round-up’ order. A round-up should be the LAST alternative in managing these animals, not the FIRST.
    But that would indicate that these agencies, whose first response is always – ALWAYS – the destruction of the Wild Equine, had a work ethic of some kind and not just job security & a really good pension plan.
    Bitter? Disenchanted? DAMN Skippy I am.

  13. sandra longley said

    WHY would you geld a 25 year old stallion??? You, the vet are “sick” and perverted”

    “Two deaths occurred this week: a 12-year-old stallion (#1406) suffered a spinal neck injury, and a 25-year-old gelding (#1337) was found dead. Necropsy was performed and the gelding’s death was due to pulmonary hemorrhage caused from anesthesia”

    Notice for the first time they are giving the freeze brand #s of dead horses..Do you ever wonder if some of these deaths are do to “medical experimentation?” Gelding of a 25 year old stallion is ‘cruel and unusal treatment” shouldn’t these horses be placed in preserves or sanctuarys as opposed to death by shock..Have you NO much longer do you think this stallion had to live..wouldn’t it have been more humane to just put him are some sick puppies!

  14. Lisa Norman said

    Larry Voyles supports the current program of wasting taxpayer dollars to exterminate wild mustangs and burros. GAO reports state repeatedly that cattle/sheep are destroying public lands and riparian zones, while the NATIVE mustangs roam over vast areas and propagate native grass species. Cattle fences are destroying wildlife such as the sage grouse. There is no evidence to support that NATIVE mustangs (DNA proves the mustangs are N.American natives) are destroying any wildlife and they are part of the natural system of public lands, we can’t say the same for 7 million (taxpayer subsidized) cattle/sheep enjoying free grazing on public lands designated PRINCIPALLY for the mustangs. Since 1971, BLM has removed/destroyed 270,000 mustangs and taken away nearly 20 million acres of land designated for them. The use of public lands for personal agendas is appalling and illegal.

    • Agreed Lisa. I’ve been very vocal about this in the past and I’ll continue to state that this is a true fact until I can’t speak or type any longer – No matter what the amendments say, no how much justification is supplied, the bottom line is simply this: The removal, re-allocation, boundary adjustment, and/or re-designation of HA and HMA acreage by any government agency or department is a direct violation of the 1971 WFRH&B Act. You can throw out all of the legal-ease you want to try to make it sound legal. You can slap a new label on it. You can bring in any other interpretation of any other semi-applicable law you like. Its still a direct violation and it is still illegal.

    • Lisa LeBlanc said

      Ditto, Fellow Lisa. The term ‘pricipally’ should be in big bold purple-n-polka-dot letters THIS HIGH. Congress, when penning the Original WH&B Act stipulated the definition of range as ‘land maintained PRINCIPALLY though not exclusively for their benefit’.
      ‘PRINCIPALLY’ (and you’ll all please pardon me for repeating myself on this)to me means FIRST DIBS. NO LIVESTOCK. Let the livestock graze on the 430 gazillion acres NOT in a Herd Management Area. That’ll cut range damage by about 90%.
      And yet, grazing allotments overlap HMAs, so when sh*t goes sideways, Wild Horses & Burros take it in the shorts. Where is all the concern for a (I SO hate this phrase, coming from them) “thriving ecological balance” when Big Horn are dying from pneumonia from sharing range with domestic sheep? When Mule Deer & Elk are forced out of areas where they’ve grazed for millenia because there’s 500 head of cattle cheerfully munchin’ on all the good stuff and using the creek fer a toilet?
      Sorry; I got lost there for a sec.
      ‘PRINCIPALLY’: First in, LAST OUT. If the range in an HMA is suffering, remove the Effin’ LIVESTOCK.
      And there art thou happy!

  15. sandra longley said

    Amen to that Lisa, there a couple of good books online-public rangelands revisited and welfare ranching..Folks have been trying to get cattle off the public lands since the 1800s..Its a powerful story of the corruption and influence of the few in politics..the destruction of the rangelands by cattle has been well documented by conservationists for years..I saw lots of photos online and only cattle on the land-no horses.

    • said

      Can we compile a list of these resources? I think this may be a place to start looking & digging deeper on a large scale.
      History = Precedent.
      The horses & burros are blamed for the desecration of the Western Ranges. Prove it. Well, they can’t so far.
      We say the cattle & livestock over grazing is to blame. Prove it. We can.

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