BLM wants to remove 500 wild horses from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands

A map of the Adobe Town and Salt Wells herd management areas showing the extent of the Checkerboard lands. The yellow shows land under BLM control, the white shows privately owned land, and the pale blue is state land. Map: BLM
A map of the Adobe Town and Salt Wells herd management areas showing the extent of the Checkerboard lands. The yellow shows land under BLM control, the white shows privately owned land, and the pale blue is state land. Map: BLM

Federal authorities propose to remove 500 wild horses from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands, so-named because of its alternating public and private land parcels.

The Rock Springs Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)  proposes to remove all the wild horses from the Checkerboard lands within and outside of the Great Divide Basin, Salt Wells Creek, and Adobe Town herd management areas (HMAs).

The three HMAs total about 2,427,220 acres, with 1,242,176 acres falling within the Checkerboard region.

The BLM says wild horses found within contiguous solid block lands in the HMAs will not be gathered.

Wild horses in Wyoming.
Wild horses in Wyoming. © BLM

The agency says 2015 population surveys revealed that about 232 wild horses lived on Checkerboard lands within the Great Divide Basin HMA, about 242 on Checkerboard lands within the Salt Wells Creek HMA, and around 26 wild horses on the Checkerboard lands within the Adobe Town HMA.

It said the wild horse populations on the Checkerboard lands exceeded the limits laid out in a 2013 Consent Decree, therefore triggering their removal.

The BLM is seeking public input ahead of its environmental assessment. Comments must be lodged by April 22.

Plans for musters within the Checkerboard lands have proved controversial in recent years, with wild horse advocates challenging the process through the courts.

The BLM removed nearly 1300 wild horses from the Checkerboard lands in 2014, but were challenged over aspects of the operation.

In March last year, US District Court of Wyoming Chief Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled that the BLM had authorized the roundup without analyzing any of the environmental consequences of a wild horse roundup of such a magnitude, or reasonable alternatives to such as action, as required by the environmental act.

However, in the same decision, Judge Freudenthal denied claims that the BLM violated the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

In 2013, the BLM entered into an agreement with the Rock Springs Grazing Association in which the agency agreed to remove all the wild horses from association’s private lands on the Checkerboard and to consider, through the appropriate public process, zeroing out the wild horse populations in this area.

Wild horse advocates argue that the deal essentially turned the public lands over to ranchers who graze livestock.

A copy of the project map and additional details on the latest proposed muster can be found here

A map of the Great Divide herd management areas showing the extent of the Checkerboard lands. The yellow shows land under BLM control, the white shows privately owned land, and the pale blue is state land. Map: BLM
A map of the Great Divide herd management areas showing the extent of the Checkerboard lands. The yellow shows land under BLM control, the white shows privately owned land, and the pale blue is state land. Map: BLM

36 thoughts on “BLM wants to remove 500 wild horses from Wyoming’s Checkerboard lands

  • March 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm
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    AMERICA SAYS NO!!! NO MORE DEADLY BLM ROUNDUPS, NO MORE ANIMAL ABUSE, NO MORE BLM HELICOPTERS, NO MORE WILD HORSES CHASED, BABY FOALS TRAMPLED, PREGNANT WILD MARES ABUSED & MURDERED, LIKE VOICELESS PREGNANT JEWEL, THE BLM WILL BE CHASING THEM TILL THEY COLLAPSE, CAUSING THEM TO ABORT THEIR BABIES, NO MORE BLM NO MORE, STOP THE EQUINE ABUSE NOW!!!!!!! WE ARE GOING TO STOP YOU!!!
    TINA WOOTEN ALL EQUINE HAVE RIGHTS

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  • March 26, 2016 at 4:21 pm
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    You need to leave the wild horses running free. You are removing and destroying our history. Who gave you the right to be so cruel?!

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  • March 27, 2016 at 7:33 am
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    2 million acres..500 horses..change the decree

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  • March 27, 2016 at 7:56 am
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    THE ATLANTIC
    How the Department of the Interior Sold Out America’s Wild Horses
    ANDREW COHEN MAR 21, 2013
    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/03/how-the-department-of-the-interior-sold-out-americas-wild-horses/274159/

    Questions of Form

    Let’s for now leave aside the merits of the case. Let’s focus solely on the integrity of the process and the appearance of impropriety. Do you think it is appropriate for a federal official to invite a lawsuit against the very agency for which she works? Do you think it’s a conflict of interest for that agency then to enter into a Consent Decree for the very remedy that was the subject of the lawsuit that the official encouraged to be filed? As a basic precept of ethics and governance, is that how we want and expect our public officials to act?

    The Consent Decree reads like a capitulation by the feds. It does nothing to protect the horses or to recognize that the ranchers receive enormous financial benefits from the below-market leasing rates on public land. The BLM and the ranchers, it reads, “have concluded their discussions and the parties agree that it is in the public interest to resolve this controversy and enter into a stipulation with respect to the wild horses located on private RSGA land and to initiate a process to better manage wild horses on the adjacent public lands,” and further:

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  • March 27, 2016 at 8:46 am
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    Anadarko Energy owns most of the land RSGA grazes on. Except for an Amicus Letter, they are all but invisible in this entire process.

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  • March 27, 2016 at 9:59 am
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    Leave our wild horse at piece, they are not hurting anyone, however can you be so cruel? Who gave you the ok to torment these horse you are not human for abusing these horses. To many die as a result of your round ups, I’ve seen video of those idiots flying the helicopters running into the donkeys knocking them down scaring them practically to death. I am telling everyone I know to go against the BLM.

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  • March 27, 2016 at 12:38 pm
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    LEAVE OUR WILD HORSES ALONE !!!!! THEY ARE WID AND FREE AND ON OUR LAND !!!!

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  • March 27, 2016 at 1:02 pm
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    The legacy of slaughterhouse Sue continues in WY …ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Let’s pass the SAFE Act hr1942 s1214 and Yes to PZP

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  • March 27, 2016 at 2:04 pm
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    The BLM has done enough damage already. These animals need our protection and to remain free.

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  • March 27, 2016 at 3:11 pm
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    I just fought to save the Salt River Horses in Arizona… SUCCESSFULLY ! These magnificent creatures NEED to be left alone where ever they have been able to survive throughout this country. They are a legacy that need to be preserved and protected… a national treasure!

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  • March 28, 2016 at 6:10 am
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    THE LAW

    From Ecology Law Currents
    A National Injustice: The Federal Government’s Systematic Removal and Eradication of an American Icon
    http://elq.typepad.com/currents/2011/02/currents38-02-wagmanmccurdy-2011-0215.html

    ONLY UNDER LIMITED CIRCUMSTANCES can the BLM actually remove horses from their designated herd area. While certain requirements are unclear and highly disputed, the agency must follow a multistep process to address wild horse populations.
    First, the BLM must obtain reliable information about the herd, environment and range conditions.
    From that evaluation they establish the AML, the appropriate number of horses for the land at issue.] The AML is used to determine if “an overpopulation exists.”
    Next, “excess” animals must be identified.

    Under NEPA, any major federal action that significantly affects the quality of the human environment requires preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS).[25] Implementing regulations require any government agency considering a proposed action that falls within NEPA to first determine if the action is one that will normally require preparation of an EIS.[26] Agencies are tasked with ensuring that they utilize “high quality” information and making environmental information “available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and before actions are taken.”[27] The agency can avoid issuing an EIS by issuing a finding of no significant impact only if the agency took a “hard look” at the problem and found the potential environmental impact to be insignificant.[28] The BLM has taken advantage of the statutory structure by assessing individual gathers separately, permitting the agency to issue a finding of no significant impact and avoid conducting an EIS.[29] NEPA’s implementing regulations also require the BLM to consider the cumulative impact of its actions.[30] However, there is no documented instance of the BLM assessing the cumulative impact of multiple gathers

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  • March 28, 2016 at 9:17 am
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    3-10-11 MICHAEL BLAKE AT PHOENIX STOP-THE-ROUNDUPS PRESS CONFERENCE
    Talk by Michael Blake, Dances With Wolves author/filmmaker, at Stop-the-Roundups press conference preceding a national meeting of the federal Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbRJulekgH4

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  • March 28, 2016 at 2:39 pm
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    We need to write articles to the newspapers, contact TV stations to bring this to the attention of the public, write senators, congressmen, etc.

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  • March 31, 2016 at 8:45 am
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    Leave these beautiful horses alone! It is so sad that the land is more important than those horses. You CANNOT put a $ sign on animals. They deserve respect.

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  • April 4, 2016 at 6:16 am
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    Leave the horses alone. There’s no need to move them. Leave them free. They’re not to be put in holding pens by the BLM at the cost of the tax payer. They’re to roam free as the heritage they represent. The Oil and Mineral Industry as well as all the Ranchers are not to dictate to the rest of the country what’s to happen to the horses and what the BLM are supposed to be doing. You, the BLM, are corrupt and listening to lobbyist when you’re supposed to represent the American Tax payer.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 6:25 am
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    Stop these roundups!!! 500 horses in 1 to 2 million acres. That’s all. This is ludicrous! And penning these wild horses up in holding pens is beyond cruel. I agree with a previous comment. This information needs to be made more public. Put in the newspapers and on tv. Maybe 60 Minutes or 20/20. I always share it on Facebook. But I fear it doesn’t reach enough people.

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  • April 10, 2016 at 5:43 am
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    Doesn’t BLM have anything else to be worried about other than a few grazing horses? Ridiculous.

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  • April 15, 2016 at 6:22 am
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    Leave the wild horses and burros alone. They are not the problem with the land or environment…the cattle and ranchers are. The blm is not doing their job of protecting the wildlife IR managing the land correctly. Our government has let down the wildlife they said they would protect. Stop the roundups!

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  • April 15, 2016 at 6:29 am
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    It is absolutely cruel.and WRONG to keep.removing those beautiful wild horses
    Their need to remind free and wild
    It’s their land and the creed rancher need to stop this
    BLM YOU DUPOSED TO TACAE CARE OF OUR HORSES, NOT RPUNDING.UP,PUT THEM IN CENCENTEATION.CAMPS, WHERE THERE DYING AND AT TIMES.SOLD TO SLAUGHTER
    BLM DOES.NOT.WANT THEM OR NEED THEM, AND BY THE WAY HORSES AND CADDLE.GET ALONG JUST FINE

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  • April 15, 2016 at 6:42 am
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    Please leave the horses alone. It is so wrong to remove them!

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  • April 15, 2016 at 7:43 am
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    Leave nature alone. It is time for the buracracy to stop micromanaging man, beast and nature!

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  • April 15, 2016 at 8:28 am
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    PLEASE LEAVE OUR WILD HORSES ALONE !!!!!!

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  • April 15, 2016 at 3:23 pm
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    Leave the horses alone they aren’t hurting anyone. You are suppose to protect wildlife, not kill them

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  • April 16, 2016 at 1:42 am
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    Please listen to what the majority is saying! Dont round up these horses! This is not only done inhumanely but also your taking them from their wild home. Try taking every wild monkey from their home and see what happens. All hell would break loose and you wouldnt get away with it so please dont do this to these horses. They deserve to live wild and free. Cattle men can have their own property and ranches to put their livestock on not public lands. These horses have fought in wars with us to help us to protect us in our history and now that they have no one to help protect them your going to tke them off away from their homes? To what? Send them to auctions? To slaughter in mexico or cananda? Please listen to us and stop this!

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  • April 16, 2016 at 3:53 am
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    Absolutely, I support the horses to freely roam our lands. BLM has done enough damage. Please pass the SAFE Act hr1942 s1214. I have taken several road trips and its beautiful to see the horses walking/running about. These horses are decedents of horses that have served and contributed to our history and values.

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  • April 16, 2016 at 10:51 am
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    I got an idea why don’t they give the mustangs to the native Americans on the reservations they would be great custonians to the mustangs.look at the buffalo herds that have come back.

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  • April 17, 2016 at 5:19 am
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    Two years after the original stampede and they will take the remaining horses from the Herd Management Areas this summer.

    In the meantime, The grazing association has committed an illegal Taking of Public lands in this area for their private, non permitted use.

    The BLM has failed to create a buffer zone or enact land exchanges to stop this activity in the future. They have installed no fencing. Done nothing to maintain the horses on the HMA.

    Activist express sympathy as yet more horses are stripped from the HMA while Cloud etc all lost challenges in court. Letters to Senators and Legislators fall on deaf ears.

    The horses have been failed by all parties concerned, myself included…
    We obviously need to think outside the box.

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  • April 19, 2016 at 12:20 pm
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    Where is your soul …wild horses are America’s Western Heritage …An American ICON …Born Free in what is supposed to be a free country. We as human beings have a responsibility to preserve wild life and horses are No Exception ..Stand For What is unmistakably right for these horses and America…STOP the slaughter and STOP the temoval of This Country’s Wild Horses…PLEASE

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  • April 19, 2016 at 1:49 pm
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    Why don’t we just leave them alone! Good lord!!! We can control the population but 500! That’s a little Extream!

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  • April 20, 2016 at 7:27 am
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    Are we ever going to break the cycle of history? Stop removing people and animals from their homes.

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  • April 23, 2016 at 4:08 am
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    I think they should be left alone. They add beauty to the land and the belief that we can still have visible wildlife in America. These horses should not be gathered up and removed.

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  • April 23, 2016 at 5:01 am
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    Leave them alone!

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  • June 13, 2016 at 4:10 am
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    It is absurd that 500 horses on 2 million acres is an over population problem. By stripping the Mustangs off the checkerboard to satisfy an illegal contract between the Rock Springs Grazing Association, effectively the BLM is giving the land to the livestock grazers. They might as well give them an ownership title to the land. There are other species BLM is supposed to be protecting: prairie chickens for instance which are endangered and black footed ferrets. When prairie chicken leks are found by some people they are wiped out so as not to have to comply with endangered species mandates. Same with the ferrets.
    Why should the livestock grazers get the access to public lands which we the taxpayers own? They do so thru corrupt public officials and shady backroom deals.
    Is it any wonder that taxpayers feel disenfranchised?

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  • June 14, 2016 at 9:23 am
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    Leave these horses along we need to stop feeding these cow on this land. It time to leave these horses alone.

    Reply

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