BLM seeks comments on Piceance-East Douglas Roundup EA

19 07 2011

Thanks to photographer Pam Nickoles for this heads-up about the environmental assessment now out for comment about the upcoming Piceance-East Douglas roundup scheduled for Sept. 20-30 (just after the one here in Spring Creek Basin, which is set for Sept. 15-18). She has been visiting this herd and has some awesome photos of these beautiful mustangs.

From the BLM website:

July 7, 2011

Contact: Tom Alvarez, public affairs specialist, (970) 244-3097

Environmental Assessment for Piceance-East Douglas Wild Horse Gather Available for Public Comment

Meeker, Colo. — The Bureau of Land Management, Northwest District, White River Field Office (WRFO) is releasing a preliminary Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area Wild Horse Gather Plan for public review and comment. The gather is needed to help balance wild horse populations with other resources, restrict wild horses from areas where they were not “presently found” at the passage of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and to manage wild horses within the area designated for long-term wild horse management.

The WRFO manages wild horses within the 190,130 acre Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area (HMA), located in Rio Blanco County, Colorado. The Appropriate Management Level (AML) in the HMA is 135-235 wild horses. The Proposed Action analyzes the impacts of gathering the current estimated population of 382 wild horses from inside and 78 wild horses from outside the HMA; to implement fertility control, sex ratio adjustments, and a selective removal of excess wild horses. If the Proposed Action is fully successful, the HMA will consist of approximately 135 wild horses; the lower range of the appropriate management level of 135 to 235 wild horses. The BLM would select the 135 wild horses to maintain a diverse age structure, herd character, body type (conformation) and implement a sex ratio adjustment of 60 percent studs to 40 percent mares. All mares, over two years of age, released back to the HMA would be treated with Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) immunocontraception (fertility) drugs. In addition, the BLM has fully analyzed three additional alternatives to the Proposed Action to address issues and concerns brought forward during the initial scoping process.

“The Bureau of Land Management is tasked with managing our rangelands for a variety of uses. Providing management for a healthy wild horse herd within the HMA so the thriving natural ecological balance is maintained for all plant and animal species on that range, in conjunction with all other resource uses, it is one of our most important responsibilities to the American public and public land users. The public’s participation in this analysis process is vital to the decision making process,” said Kent Walter, field manager for the White River Field Office.

The gather EA can be found on the BLM WRFO website at http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/wrfo/piceance_-_east_douglas.html, and selecting Preliminary Environmental Assessment DOI-BLM-CO-110-2011-0058-EA. All comments must be submitted in writing and received by the WRFO by the close of business on Aug. 8, 2011. Comments may be sent via email to mkindall@blm.gov with “Wild Horse Removal Plan” in the subject line of the email. Comments can also be sent by regular mail to the Bureau of Land Management, White River Field Office: attention Melissa Kindall, 220 E. Market St., Meeker, CO 81641. For more information, call James Roberts at (970) 878-3873 or Melissa Kindall at (970) 878-3842.

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I went looking for information about the specific fertility control to be used … “two-year PZP contraceptive vaccine,” according to the EA, but the language seems to mean native PZP and/or PZP-22 interchangeably. (Page 94 of the PDF; Page 85 of the EA document.)

It seems odd that BLM would continue to use PZP-22 given the known timing problems from the HSUS studies in Sand Wash Basin and Cedar Mountains – and the EA acknowledges that it is best given between November and February (though I’ve also heard between December and March, and I think the Spring Creek Basin preliminary roundup EA pegs it at between December and February). This roundup is scheduled immediately after the Spring Creek Basin roundup.

PZP-22 is not “fairly inexpensive”; PZP-22 was about $200 a dose when it was allegedly administered to the Spring Creek Basin mares in 2007. Native PZP, however, is quite inexpensive – less than $30 per dose. Also, PZP-22 can be given “in the field” if that means at the roundup … but not (yet, that I know of) without a roundup – like native PZP can be given. The efficacy percentages are attributed to Dr. Kirkpatrick, who works with native PZP (and percentages are low for native PZP, which has at least an average 90 percent efficacy rate – also, native PZP is effective for one year, so the rest of that would seem to be moot)). Dr. Turner, attributed elsewhere, works with PZP-22.

Just some “hmms” I had when reading that part of the EA. I am not familiar with this herd at all and plan to seek more information from people who know those horses and that area.


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19 07 2011
Linda H

There are folks who live in Rangely that follow that herd who say that there are nowhere 380 horses. There is no documentation of valid population counts to verify this–these numbers are apparently grabbed out of the air. This whole roundup is questionable.

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