The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

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

Ranchers Win Round in Wild Horse Row, Murderer’s Creek Wild Horse Decision…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on March 24, 2011

Here’s the kind of stuff that happens when horses collide with endangered species, especially when the agencies that manage the horses don’t adhere to the law.  We need to be sensitive to this kind of issue in Nevada as there could be some competition between horses and the greater sage grouse (a species that is a candidate for ESA listing) and other threatened species.  When the ESA comes into play, it’s a game changer.
“:O) Willis

Ranchers Win Round in Wild Horse Row


     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A Federal judge sided with ranchers who claimed the Forest Service let a wild horse herd living in a federal forest get too big, threatening endangered steelhead. The ranchers graze their cattle on the same land.
     In 2008, the same judge barred Loren and Piper Stout from grazing cattle on their allotment in federal forest of Murderer’s Creek Wild Horse Territory, after finding that stream banks in the territory had been trampled. The couple blamed oversize wild horse herds for the degradation of
streams in an area that is designated as critical habitat for endangered steelhead.
     In 2009, the Stouts sued the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, claiming the horses were eating all the grass that their cattle used to graze on and were leaving the land damaged. They also said the Forest Service failed to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service about its Wild Horse Plan.
     The Forest Service’s Wild Horse Plan, implemented in 1975, stated that free-ranging horse herd sizes should not exceed 100 adult horses. That year, the service estimated there were 174 horses on the on the Murderer’s Creek Territory. The service said it hoped to reduce the herd by more than one-third.
     In 1984, the service revised the plan to allow 140 horses roam the area.  A 2006 census of the animals indicated there were more than 400 horses living around Murderer’s Creek.
     District Judge Ancer Haggerty found that the Forest Service violated its own plan by failing to keep the horse population in check. Haggerty said the agency also violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to prepare a biological assessment examining whether the plan would harm any endangered species. He remanded the matter to the Forest Service, ordering the agency
to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service within one year about whether the plan complies with the Endangered Species Act.



4 Responses to “Ranchers Win Round in Wild Horse Row, Murderer’s Creek Wild Horse Decision…”

  1. Puller Lanigan said

    Hmmmm, isn’t that interesting? So it’s now 2011. Are the Stouts still banned from grazing cattle on the property? Was the streambed ever shored up and replanted by FWS or BLM after the cattle were removed? Or was it left to erode away? My calculations of horses in the region show an increase of 18 animals a year from an original herd of 140. Less than 10% growth. Probably less than that in reality.

    Have ANY horses been removed from Murderer’s Creek HMA?

  2. Puller Lanigan said

    Will the Stouts be allowed to return their cattle to this property??? Has anyone done a RECENT Environmental Assessment since the 2008 study? Has the streambed recovered?

  3. Jan said

    i email a man who is in charge of the western watershed project – this is not a govt project but private and they ck damage done to blm land for enviroment damage but he is always in favor of the horses – says its the cattle that damage the land and water – the website is western watershed – sure u can google it and find it

  4. Poor Ginger said

    The lawsuit says Murderer’s Creek is 180,000 acres and the AML is 100 wild horses. 1,800 acres per horse seems really out of whack!

    And let’s see. They want more sage grouse, antelope, bighorns, so hunters can kill them. They want more steelhead so fishermen can kill them. How about calling off hunting and fishing for these species until they recover? Big game hunters could always travel to Colorado and bag an elk. The state is literally BEGGING folks to come and thin their enormous and destructive herds!

    Don’t get me wrong, I love elk – in appropriate numbers. But when I see a hundred thundering down a single Colorado hillside, or parked in someone’s private pasture, I can’t help asking how much damage THEY do. I know elk are on many of the HMAs, and often wonder if what’s been blamed on wild horses may be, at least in part, the fault of the elk.

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