American wild horse advocates seek freeze on roundups

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Horse seen at a watering trough in the Bellehelen portion of the Reveille HMA. Some of the horses in the Reveille HMA are "Stone Cabin Grays". Photo: BLM
Horse seen at a watering trough in the Bellehelen portion of the Reveille HMA. Some of the horses in the Reveille HMA are “Stone Cabin Grays”. Photo: BLM

A wild horse advocacy group has expressed dismay over a Nevada roundup, saying the number of horses that will be left on 600,000 acres will be below limits for healthy genetic variability.

On top of that, the mares returned to the wild will be treated with a long-term contraceptive.

Protect Mustangs’ criticism was aimed at the muster of about 120 wild horses from within the Reveille Allotment and Herd Management Area, about 50 miles east of Tonopah.

About 70 wild horses will be permanently removed, with 60 sent to holding facilities in Ridgecrest, California. About 10 will be offered for adoption after the roundup in Tonopah.

The remaining 50 wild horses will be released back into the area after mares have been treated with the long-term contraceptive, Porcine Zona Pellucidae (PZP-22).

The operation will leave a post-roundup population on the range of 98 wild horses.

This, the group says, will put the survivors at risk, noting that the minimum number for genetic variability is 150 animals.

“The Bureau of Land Management is wiping out America’s wild horses,” says Anne Novak, executive director of the group.

“We need to stop the roundups and protect our native wild horses.”

The roundup was scheduled to start on October 30, but its start was delayed to November 3.

The group has also voiced its concerns over the use of Porcine Zona Pellucidae, saying there was evidence that the drug sterilized wild horses after multiple use.

Protect Mustangs described the appropriate herd management level of 138  for the area as out of date and lacking in scientific merit.

“We must ensure native wild horses can survive upcoming environmental changes,” Novak says.

“The minimum population for a genetically variable herd is 150. Why are PZP advocates and the BLM allowing wild horse herds to fall below safe numbers?”

The group noted the findings of a National Academy of Sciences report released in June last year which found that the current practice of removing free-ranging horses from public lands promoted a high population growth rate.

“We are calling for an immediate freeze on roundups and removals for scientific reevaluation,” says Novak.

The BLM says the strategies proposed for the muster, including the use of the contraceptive, would allow for at least three years until the population neared the established appropriate management level, requiring another gather to be scheduled.

During the last Reveille gather in 2010, hair samples were collected from 51 wild horses and sent to Dr Gus Cothran, of Texas A&M University, for genetic analysis.

The results indicate genetic variants and genetic variation above the mean for other wild herds.

The closest similarity to domestic horses is with the light racing and riding breeds followed by Oriental and Arabian breeds.

There was also a cluster with a group of draft horse breeds.

According to Cothran’s report, the results indicated a herd with mixed origins with no clear indication of primary breed type.

During the current gather, hair samples will again be collected for further genetic analysis.

 

13 thoughts on “American wild horse advocates seek freeze on roundups

  • November 5, 2014 at 7:01 am
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    We should not be rounding up these horses, nor should we be giving them PZP, which is a long-acting birth control drug with too many side-effects. For one, I have seen a study where it was still effective four years later, and it didn’t measure anything after that year.

    People wanting more information can put “PZP” into the search bar:

    http://protectmustangs.org/?s=pzp&submit=Search

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  • November 5, 2014 at 7:18 am
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    “This, the group says, will put the survivors at risk, noting that the minimum number for genetic variability is 150 animals.”

    By design, PZP and roundups are designed to cripple the remaining herd. So it would not be surprising at a later date for BLM to remove the remaining population citing lack genetic variability.

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  • November 5, 2014 at 7:37 am
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    WHY CAN’T BLM LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE. THESE HORSES HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE THERE. THEY ARE NOT HARMING THE LAND IN ANY WAY. WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO THESE BAUTIFUL ANIMALS IS CRUEL . YOU ARE SUPPOSE TO BE KEEPING THEM SAFE FROM HARM. YOU ARE BREAKING AMERICA’S HEART, COMMITING THESE CRIMES AGAINEST GOD’S CREATURES.

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  • November 5, 2014 at 7:38 am
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    The wild horses are being wiped out for a reason. Just like the wolf and big cats. It is called greed. The big cattle and sheep ranches are behind most of it. So, they can raise more animals then they can feed. Without killing off the wild horse ranges. PZP is a bad drug. It was once used to kill off pest. It is use to put an end to breeding. which means there won’t be any new foals to keep the herds going. The BLM was to bring in a few young adoptable horses every couple of years. But, leave the older herd members to keep the lines going. They say there isn’t enough feed or water for them. Well, when you let the ranches take over the range with way to many cattle and sheep. There won’t be any range left. Plus, they are fencing off the watering holes. So, that the wild horse that belong on the range can’t get to them to drink. The BLM and the ranchers are the problem. NOT THE WILD HORSES..

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  • November 5, 2014 at 7:47 am
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    Madness in the face of science. This is what happens when government goes unchecked and has no accountability. The agenda of the BLM is clear and that is to rid themselves of wild horses by driving down the population. Oh, sure they will collect genetic data and anything that catches their eye might be pulled and corralled at one of the BLM’s multi million dollar facilities. Absolutely, amazing that the BLM is able to abuse, The Wild Horse and Burro Act.

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  • November 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm
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    I only know what I remember from my childhood on a ranch and what I learned was wild horses treat the land with respect because they know it provides for them. they graze moving all the time so they don’t eat the grass down to where it won’t grow anymore their manure reseeds the grass as they move.They have their control when it comes to breeding also life is tough out in the wild and nature does take her course.They lose colts through the winter or drought or the mares are to poor to give birth or unable to feed them. The studs get old the mares get old and they just naturally drop unable to keep up with the younger animals. If you look back through the years you will see this has worked. Now I am not saying if there is to large a herd that measures may need to be taken but PZP is nor the answer If I was in charge of taking care of these horses I would give every state in our country the opportunity to have herds of these beautiful wild animals for our next generations to learn to love and protect. The BLM with the ok of the Department of the Interior are managing the mustangs out of existence and if we let that happen everyone of us will be the poorer for it.The mustangs have been managing themselves for longer than any of us have been alive. Why don’t you do a study on how the mustangs handle their herds you might be much wiser about the horses you are managing to extinction!!

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  • November 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm
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    This is a disgrace. The number of horses left will not be genetically viable and PZP is not safe and disrupts natural cycles and natural behavior. They may as well be “zoo” animals if managed in this way. Research done by experts such as Craig Downer shows that wild populations will do a pretty good job of regulating their numbers if left alone. We also need welfare cattle removed and predators returned to the range. BLM refuses to look at the science and, instead, sides with special interest groups instead of protecting wild equines for all Americans, as the law provides for.

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    • November 9, 2014 at 5:15 pm
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      Absolutely right, Catherine. Heartening to know people like you see through the charade, the phoniness!

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  • November 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm
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    These wild horses need to be left alone, they have managed themselves just fine for all these years without interference from the BLM. Stop the PZP it is not the answer.. Leaving them alone is the answer.

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  • November 7, 2014 at 9:06 am
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    This roundup is so wrong. REally a viable herd should be in the thousands not the hundreds of individuals! Our so called public servants are really setting these wonderful animals up for dysfunction and demise. This is all the opposite of what the WFHBA intended. This is also a quality of life issue and their presence is very important to restoring ecological integrity.

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  • November 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm
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    What is happening in Reveille breaks the true intent of the WFHBA of 1971 and is a cynical set up for a dysfunctional herd. The AML is not viable, and by the way 150 is no viable level! Also to long-term PZP-22 administer this subviable population is truly egregious! Obviously whoever is doing this has no regard for the well-being and value of a healthy naturally living wild horse population with intact and functional harem bands. Such a callous disregard of the law, of the public, but most flagrantly of the wonderful horses themselves! When will this madness ever stop?! How can we stop it?

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  • November 15, 2014 at 7:18 am
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    Thank you for your article about the roundup! I believe the public needs to be aware and keep abreast of what is happening to our wild horses, one of the few iconic wild animals left, that to me symbolizes freedom which started here in the US. We must not forget that much of this great nation was built on the backbone of horses and they deserve better than what we are doing to them! Thank you again and I look forward to reading more in the future about this issue and how we can help save them.

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  • November 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm
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    Why cant the BLM just leave these beautiful creatures.

    Reply

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