Letter: Wild horse population growth questioned

2014-03-26T06:00:00Z Letter: Wild horse population growth questioned Elko Daily Free Press
March 26, 2014 6:00 am

Editor: A recent article was published in the Elko Daily Free Press entitled “Commentary: Tale of two species on Western rangelands,” by Thomas Mitchell, an article whose allegations were that wild horse and burro population was roughly 40,000 to 50,000, at present, and would be expected to grow to 69,000 in one year.

As a biologist, I am here to state that there are numerous factors that govern population growth for wild horses and burros, or lack thereof. To state that 40,000 to 50,000 wild horses could increase to 69,000 horses in just a one-year period is ludicrous.

Factoring in natural mortality rates, along with all other natural variables, it would require astronomical reproductive rates to offset those variables. Such reproductive rates do not and never will occur in nature.

Additionally, using the BLM’s own population statistics, factoring in nature’s mortality, adult and first year, sex ratios, aggressive use of PZP, and subtracting gathered wild horses, their numbers remaining in the wild are in the low teens, if that. Our wild horses and burros are close to extinction!

The wild horses and burros are a vital component to ecological balance on the range lands of the West, the benefits of which are innumerable, as opposed to cattle.

The numbers of these beautiful animals must be dictated, however, by nature’s mechanisms and not mankind. Only in this manner will wild horse numbers be in balance with all other forms of wildlife and predators of the wild horses.

Robert C. Bauer

Biologist

Bloomington, Ill.

Copyright 2015 Elko Daily Free Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(39) Comments

  1. homey
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    homey - April 02, 2014 2:21 pm
    Nevada statewide: 226,000 beef cows that have calved--Jan 2014 USDA NASS

    Nationwide: 29 million. Nevada is about 30th.

    1.512 million beef cows that have calved if one adds the Great Basin states of Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah.

    Let's get our facts from someplace besides the funny papers.
  2. mountaingirl1961
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    mountaingirl1961 - April 01, 2014 8:17 pm
    Bullskin - exactly. We are the only apex predator that horses have left, and we're not doing our jobs. Because we've been hamstrung by "experts" like Mr. Bauer, who freely admits his biases, the native species are suffering from the overabundance of an animal no longer native to this ecosystem.

    Bravo, Bullskin, and I sincerely hope you're in an influential position in this debate.
  3. NvRaider
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    NvRaider - March 30, 2014 12:24 pm
    Get involved with the movement to have title to our "public land" transferred to its rightful owner, Nevada. Write you reps in Carson, email, call, just keep on them. Then we can quit arguing with these moron feral horse lovers. And we can generate hundreds of millions in revenue for our state.
  4. western ecos
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    western ecos - March 29, 2014 8:04 pm
    What a maroon. My dog is a wildlife biologist and studies horses. Primarily he focuses on fecal studies. I think this Bauer guy is in to fecal studies too, because the preponderance of research, and about 10,000 scientists with the Wildlife Society agree that horses aren't wildlife, and so it doesn't really matter what any population study finds, they all say them same thing; the horse has to go.
  5. Freddie
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    Freddie - March 28, 2014 6:01 pm
    Habitat for Horses refers to Bauer as "Wildlife biologist and long time advocate of the wild horses and burros in the West." From his biography on the same site: "The opportunity, however, to experience the wild horses, for myself in the wild, came in Sept. of 2009, my first real encounter."

    Many years? Long time advocate? Please. The guy never saw a horse till 4 years ago and has a simple B.S. in biology with no history of any published research. Some authority.
  6. Freddie
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    Freddie - March 28, 2014 5:38 pm
    Bauer ends with, "The numbers of these beautiful animals must be dictated, however, by nature’s mechanisms and not mankind."

    Must? I don't think so. The animals have no say. Man manages wildlife as he sees fit. You don't have to think that's right but it is indisputably the case. Perhaps for Bauer and some here a better word would be "should". But then that is just a matter of opinion. Opinion not shared by most Americans. Beef, it's what's for dinner. That's America.
  7. Freddie
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    Freddie - March 28, 2014 5:28 pm
    But who are we too believe; BLM wild horse honcho or Hippies For Horses? In normal times that would be an easy question.
  8. Freddie
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    Freddie - March 28, 2014 5:22 pm
    Cue Twilight Zone theme.
  9. crypto666
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    crypto666 - March 28, 2014 12:57 pm
    Speaking of strange...
  10. crypto666
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    crypto666 - March 28, 2014 12:43 pm
    Funny how some wizard can visit Nevada on his summer vacation and suddenly he is transformed in to a biological super hero, but without citations.

    Invasive species are the biggest threat to our lands, and horses are the largest and some of the most destructive of these organisms. http://lib.colostate.edu/research/agnic/impacts.html
    People from texas should stick to screwing up texas and leave Nevada alone.
  11. mandersen1
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    mandersen1 - March 28, 2014 10:12 am
    Shane if you new anything about the cattle industy you would not of made that statement. First is there is more than 20,000 horses, and less the 12 million cattle and sheep in Nevada. Second is horse need more feed than cattle. Third cattle are managed and move off the range when needed, horse are not they are there 365. Even if feed is poor the horse are there. People like you have no idea they are not welfare rancher they do not get money and they pay fair market for the range it is poor range
  12. mandersen1
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    mandersen1 - March 28, 2014 10:04 am
    Many people here in Nevada have an entire lifetime and generation here not just few visit over the years. They know the range way better than Bauer ever will. A 10 year moratorium will cause many speice to disappear, but you people do not care about any other wildlife
  13. mandersen1
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    mandersen1 - March 28, 2014 10:01 am
    You are either ignorant or just plain dumb horse have never been close to extinction. We used to see hundreds of horse when we travel to our families mine. I still see hundreds of horse every time I go for a ride, do you even live here? I am not sure what your history is about? The 1971 wild horse act was way after cattle first came to the west? In 1971 if you were alive then there was plenty of horse to see and they were managed by mustangers at no cost to us! It did not take a 10 years study to figure out there were to many on the range, and mustanger would reduce them. Simple there were horse, no cost to tax payer, water holes were maintained. Now over population, hundreds of million spent, water hole stomped dry by horse, more stress on native wildlife, and after 20 years of study nobody know what to do. Then we have people that do not understand Nevada say they are not over populated. Cattle are managed to control amount of time they are allow to graze an area, horse graze 365. Simple cattle are not the problem!
  14. mandersen1
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    mandersen1 - March 28, 2014 9:39 am
    As for population growth being ludicrous with any knowledge you would know this is a fair estimate. Let assume the low number of 40,000 feral horses. I have seen three herds in the last two days of 6, 7, and 8 head and they had 3 colts each. That would mean there is 5700 separate herds and I round this down by about 10%. This would indicate a population growth of 11,400 give or take a few hundred. Do you even know the natural mortality rates, with the only variables being horses suffering and dying of thirst or lack of feed? 3 out of 7 mares have a colt does not seem to me to be astronomical reproductive rate, as facts on the ground I have seen this as a common rate.
  15. mandersen1
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    mandersen1 - March 28, 2014 9:30 am
    Wow this is amazing what world are some of you living in I don’t care what side you are on you should not make up facts. And Mr. Bauer if you have a degree in biology you should give it back. I have live in Nevada for 50 years and my family has been here for over 4 generations. So I have not just visit a few time and claim to be an expert on Nevada. I have several question of Mr. Bauer want to be biologist why is it you live in Bloomington Ill and feel you have the right to tell us in Nevada how our state needs to be ran, I don’t tell Ill. how to run there state. Oh that rights you have sold most of your state so you think you need to tell us what to do with our state.
  16. bullskin
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    bullskin - March 27, 2014 10:39 pm
    While horses are native to the continent, the ecosystem to which the horse has returned has completely changed since the end of the ice age 10,000 years ago. So, while horses have done very well returning to a land where every effective predator save man is extinct, the species native and co-adapted to this ecosystem today do not fare well competing against the horse. And, yet, we would deny the only native effective predator of the horse (man) his due role within the system? Not logical.
  17. bullskin
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    bullskin - March 27, 2014 10:21 pm
    "...for no reason," you say? Horse advocates accuse ranchers of caring only for cattle, yet they are guilty of the exact same bigotry. Horses, like cattle, compete with species native to the high desert ecosystem for food and water, yet advocates oppose any limits to their numbers. To say that horses should be preserved because they are less damaging that cattle is like saying I should accept a blow to the shoulder because it hurts less than a blow to the head. Why should I accept either?
  18. bullskin
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    bullskin - March 27, 2014 10:11 pm
    You are concerned about the reduction in horse numbers from 2 million to 50,000 over the past century, but not about the fact that these two million were placed here by man, artificially increasing horse numbers from zero to two million? Thanks to man, wild horses on the continent have increased from none at all to 50,000, and this is extinction? By that standard, the condor, manatee, gorilla and the tiger are all extinct. Ya might want to notify the USFWS of their recent change in status.
  19. JadeH22
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    JadeH22 - March 27, 2014 7:43 pm
    When the BLM first started throwing ridiculous numbers around we all laughed and shook our heads - then many people stepped up and provided accurate information and numbers that knock the BLM BS out of the park! What I have learned from being involved in this fight for the last 5 years is this: If someone representing the BLM is talking, we are hearing nothing what Bess Truman kept trying to get her husband (President Harry Truman) to refer to as "manure"...and he never did! It has to stop!
  20. JadeH22
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    JadeH22 - March 27, 2014 7:32 pm
    WELL SAID, Shane!!!
  21. endozack1
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    endozack1 - March 27, 2014 3:44 pm
    rt you forgot the b l m does not count the foals under 6 months old so my question is : WHY ARE THEY COUNTING FUTURE BIRTHS NOW ? COULD IT BE SO BUTTHEAD AND BEAVIS CAN TALK ABOUT THEMSELVES BEING WELFARE RANCHERS THAT THEY ARE!!!!! now then i'm so happy that robert has spoken up about the true peril our horses are facing and us as pulic servant pay our taxes and the are pretty much ignored . i don't like what they or you are doing..i spend money in your state.i view horses
  22. Shane Destry
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    Shane Destry - March 27, 2014 2:45 pm
    the wild horse herds in the U.S. which is the relevant topic bullhead are indeed close to extinction. From two million a century ago there are now 50,000 and three of five of those are now in BLM holding pens for no reason ! The captured stallions have all been gelded. The BLM wishes to either slaughter the remainder or sterilize the mares. When all herds thereby become unviable that is what is known as extinction. The American mustang genetic pool ceases, that is the point, bullhead !
  23. Chicorey
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    Chicorey - March 27, 2014 12:11 pm
    Oddly enough, even an out of state biologist just might know what he's talking about. Since all of us taxpayers (yes, even out of state) make up for the losses from the grazing allotments - I think it matters to us. I realize that not all cattle ranchers take advantage of these allotments - there have to be many that actually limit their stock to what their own range can carry. I also think, before long, the cattle & sheep are going to be pushed out like the horses - by fracking-oil-mines.
  24. Chicorey
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    Chicorey - March 27, 2014 12:05 pm
    It seems that no matter whether the BLM's so-called wild horse specialists are women or men doesn't make their management of the wild horses & burros any better. And there are people in Nevada AND the rest of the country that care about the wild horses. Have to say - the PUBLIC lands belong to the public - even the people in other parts of the country - hard as it is to believe - we ALL pay taxes & part of our taxes cover the losses incurred by the grazing allotments!
  25. Shane Destry
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    Shane Destry - March 27, 2014 12:03 pm
    before Wild Horse Annie fortunately intervened, it was the welfare cattle ranchers who had nearly managed to extinction the wild horse herds. Now you get your BLM lackies to do the dirty work for you ! You have your history backward : first came the 1971 federal law protecting wild horses, then came the massive invasion of cattle from welfare ranchers. Have you ever noticed that most of the pro horse slaughter people like yourself are either sociopaths or profiteers ? Smoke that Marloboro Man!
  26. Shane Destry
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    Shane Destry - March 27, 2014 10:12 am
    thank you Robert C. Bauer for the reality check on the BLM's strange math which is shaped to the interests of welfare cattle ranchers and would be frackers not the American public who own this land not those leasing it in order to destroy it for profit ! I will again state something that should be obvious : it is impossible that 20,000 wild horses left free running could do as much damage as twelve million cattle and sheep ! That is like saying Elko uses up as much water as Las Vegas !
  27. margowolf
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    margowolf - March 27, 2014 9:57 am
    Robert Bauer has spent many years visiting the ranges of Nevada's wild horses and burros.
    Biology and research will help us create a safe world for the wild horses and wild burros. Please stop playing Russian Roulette with these animals! Support a 10 Year Moratorium and let's get the research and the data down to base management decisions upon. And we will will have time to remove BLM from management also. 10 years of relative peace, research and actual boots on the ground familiarity.
  28. morgansinkc
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    morgansinkc - March 27, 2014 9:43 am
    Bill-bland, you'd better take a closer look at this before commenting further:

    http://hippies4horses.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/dispell-the-myth-of-the-aboriginal-north-american-horse/

  29. morgansinkc
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    morgansinkc - March 27, 2014 9:42 am
    Thank you, Robert.
  30. Ronny
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    Ronny - March 27, 2014 4:26 am
    So how many are truly out there and what are you basing the numbers on? I have seen estimates from the low teens to 40 thousand.
  31. rtfitch
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    rtfitch - March 27, 2014 4:17 am
    Thanks for the taste of sanity, Bob. Like you, I responded with shock and disdain at the article that was published, here. http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/03/20/wild-horses-expected-to-explode-from-near-20000-to-69000-in-only-one-year/

    The BLM has never taken a true scientific assessment of wild equine on the range and are guilty of throwing numbers out on a whim. Anyone who takes said numbers to heart has their head where the sun rarely shines.
  32. NvRaider
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    NvRaider - March 26, 2014 7:01 pm
    Fortunately all of these out-of-stater arguments will be rendered moot when the "public" lands are rightfully transferred to the state of Nevada.
  33. Mike Laughlin
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    Mike Laughlin - March 26, 2014 2:42 pm
    What has this Biologist been smoking = ?? You have to love these folks that live hundreds of miles from Nevada , but can tell you how it is !! We never had this problem before Wild Horse Annie got us into this mess with the BLM as the head wranglers!! Ranchers managed the horses on their range!!
    Have you ever noticed most of the wild horse specialist with the BLM are women!! They have turned thus entire horse issue into a lonely wives club!! Think about it!!
  34. MarybethDevlin
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    MarybethDevlin - March 26, 2014 12:17 pm
    BLM's mustang population-GROWTH figures are biologically-impossible. The "data" are inflated estimates ... based on extrapolations ... employing assumptions ... according to projections ... derived from Monte Carlo simulations. They even include UNBORN foals.

    BLM sets the MAXIMUM population for most of Nevada's mustang-herds below MINIMUM-viable population. The stocking-rate in the Elko District is one wild horse or burro per 1,345 acres; and -- in contrast -- one cow or calf per 63 acres.
  35. Thomasm
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    Thomasm - March 26, 2014 10:18 am
    Memo from BLM wild horse honcho: “The on-range population number would grow to 48,000 by February 2014; 58,000 by February 2015 and 69,000 by 2015 without removals or contraceptive treatments.”
  36. bullskin
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    bullskin - March 26, 2014 9:54 am

    Wild horses are not close to extinction. These are the same horses that exist by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in captivity, all over the globe. It was by this logic that domesticated horses were returned to the land as "wild" stock. It would be more accurate, therefore, to say that their "wild" numbers are reduced. If this is your complaint, then please say so and then we can move on to explore the reasons why such reduction has taken place.
  37. homey
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    homey - March 26, 2014 9:36 am
    Internal BLM memo shows mustang woes: "expected to surpass 60,000 in 2015, Guilfoyle said."
    20% average increase yearly: 40k in 2013 = 48k in 2014, 57.6k in 2015
    50k in 2013 = 60k in 2014, 72k in 2015
    Of course this is unsustainable; somewhere in time starvation will suppress ovarian activity and we will have lots of body score 1 mustangs. But then we will get a few good grass years and then they will breed up nicely, only to starve out later.
  38. roimike
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    roimike - March 26, 2014 8:03 am
    another ignorant out of state "biologist" trying to insert themselves into Nevada issues.
    Wild horses close to extinction and no benefit to the range from cattle grazing?
    Its time to take back Nevada so that we can make decisions locally rather then in DC
  39. bill-bland
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    bill-bland - March 26, 2014 7:39 am
    Its morons like you that don't know what your talking about. These horses are not native horses a lot of them were remounts released by the military and farm and ranchers in the age of machinery came about. I think rats and cockroaches are beautiful. I think that the government should pass a law that people like you should be required to house and feed and breed them so there populations don't decline, and so they can interfere with your lives like these so called wild horse do to the ranchers
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