‘Deeply flawed policy’

31 08 2010

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/6420ap_nv_wild_horses_study.html

BLM seeks independent review of wild horse program

By MARTIN GRIFFITH
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

RENO, Nev. — At the urging of a bipartisan group of House members, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is asking for an independent review of its wild horse and burro program by the National Academy of Sciences.

BLM officials said the two-year, $1.5 million study would determine whether the agency is using the best science available in managing wild horses and burros on Western rangelands. BLM managers estimate that 38,000 mustangs and burros roam 10 Western states, and half are in Nevada.

The study tentatively set to begin Jan. 1 would focus on population estimation methods, annual herd growth rates and population control measures, agency officials said in a statement released Friday.

The announcement came a month after 54 House members signed onto a letter that Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pleading with him to halt a series of wild horse roundups under way in the West.

The letter recommended that the National Academy of Sciences be assigned to review the BLM’s plan to cull about 12,000 of 38,000 mustangs and burros from the range and either send them to long-term holding facilities or put them up for adoption.

Nevada Democratic Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus were among those who signed the letter that maintains the gathers are based on a “deeply flawed policy.”

“Nevada’s wild horses and burros are a treasured part of our Western heritage, but we continue to struggle with the management of these herds on public lands,” Berkley said Saturday. “My hope is that this study will provide a new blueprint for addressing the many challenges we face in protecting wild horse and burro populations in Nevada and other Western states.”

Titus said she was pleased the BLM acted quickly in response to House members’ request for the study.

“In the meantime, I again urge the BLM to halt roundups until the failings of the current program are addressed,” she said Saturday.

Activists said they support the independent review but only if it’s coupled with an immediate moratorium on all BLM roundups of mustangs from the range. There will be too few genetically viable herds left to study at the present rate of roundups, they said.

Activists said they support the independent review but only if it’s coupled with an immediate moratorium on all BLM roundups of mustangs from the range. There will be too few genetically viable herds left to study at the present rate of roundups, they said.

“I expect the NAS report to be enlightening regarding the lack of science in BLM’s decisions aimed at ridding the West of our wild horse and burro heritage,” said Ginger Kathrens, director of the horse advocacy group Cloud Foundation based in Colorado. “A moratorium right now is essential so that NAS will have a few viable herds left to study.”

The National Academy of Sciences is a nonprofit source of scientific advice that enlists the nation’s top experts to address a wide range of problems.

BLM’s news release:

http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2010/august/NR_8_27_2010.html

BLM Proposes National Academy of Sciences Study

The Bureau of Land Management has asked the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC) to make an independent technical review of the Wild Horse and Burro Program to ensure that the BLM is using the best science available in managing wild horses and burros on Western public rangelands.

The NAS/NRC has previously reviewed the BLM’s management of the Wild Horse and Burro Program and produced three separate reports; however, these reports are now 20 to 30 years old.  In those reports, the NAS/NRC summarized what was known about wild horses and burros and made recommendations to the BLM for wild horse and burro management, population estimation, and further research.

In the proposed effort, many of the topics discussed in the earlier reports would be included, such as population estimation methods, annual herd growth rates, population control measures, and whether populations will self-limit, as well as other subjects needing new research.

To sort through the many diverse and often conflicting opinions about how wild horses and burros should be managed, the BLM must continue to base its decisions on the best available science and involve the public in its decisionmaking process.  Commissioning the NAS/NRC to review their three earlier reports and the current available information and research about wild horses and burros is a first step.  A second step is to ask the NAS/NRC to make recommendations about future wild horse and burro management and needed research.  A third step is to take the NAS/NRC findings and recommendations and make them available to the public in a variety of ways, perhaps to focus groups or science forums.

Both the BLM and NAS/NRC will negotiate the terms and outline for the research study.  The proposed study would tentatively begin about January 1, 2011, and would cost the BLM approximately $1.5 million and take about two years to complete.

Congress created the NAS/NRC to be a non-Federal, not-for-profit source of scientific advice.  The NAS/NRC enlists the nation’s foremost scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts to address the scientific and technical aspects of society’s most pressing problems.  Each year, thousands of these experts are selected to serve, without pay, on hundreds of study committees.
The BLM manages more land – more than 245 million acres – than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

–>The Bureau of Land Management has asked the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (NAS/NRC) to make an independent technical review of the Wild Horse and Burro Program to ensure that the BLM is using the best science available in managing wild horses and burros on Western public rangelands.

The NAS/NRC has previously reviewed the BLM’s management of the Wild Horse and Burro Program and produced three separate reports; however, these reports are now 20 to 30 years old.  In those reports, the NAS/NRC summarized what was known about wild horses and burros and made recommendations to the BLM for wild horse and burro management, population estimation, and further research.

In the proposed effort, many of the topics discussed in the earlier reports would be included, such as population estimation methods, annual herd growth rates, population control measures, and whether populations will self-limit, as well as other subjects needing new research.

To sort through the many diverse and often conflicting opinions about how wild horses and burros should be managed, the BLM must continue to base its decisions on the best available science and involve the public in its decisionmaking process.  Commissioning the NAS/NRC to review their three earlier reports and the current available information and research about wild horses and burros is a first step.  A second step is to ask the NAS/NRC to make recommendations about future wild horse and burro management and needed research.  A third step is to take the NAS/NRC findings and recommendations and make them available to the public in a variety of ways, perhaps to focus groups or science forums.

Both the BLM and NAS/NRC will negotiate the terms and outline for the research study.  The proposed study would tentatively begin about January 1, 2011, and would cost the BLM approximately $1.5 million and take about two years to complete.

Congress created the NAS/NRC to be a non-Federal, not-for-profit source of scientific advice.  The NAS/NRC enlists the nation’s foremost scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts to address the scientific and technical aspects of society’s most pressing problems.  Each year, thousands of these experts are selected to serve, without pay, on hundreds of study committees.


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3 responses

31 08 2010
Marilyn Wargo

To do this study properly there should not be removals happening at the same time. It only makes sense. mar

1 09 2010
lynn bauer

You mean they’re going to involve REAL SCIENCE in this mess – REALLY??????
NAS is an organization I know quite a bit about. Let’s see what that $$ buys us.
So encouraging to see something with positive potential.

2 09 2010
kim Zamudio

Thanks for posting this TJ. I did see this in the paper. It feels so frustrating that we are not seeing any action. Just more round ups. Something has to come of this soon!
The horses look great! It has been a good year for them.

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