The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been failed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) since the 1980's on having a scientific basis for creating justified actions in practice. In other words; the BLM runs the Wild Horse and Burro program on myth, conjecture, politics and bad habits.
Our work has stopped unjustified actions, engaged the system to gain sound practices that have a basis in data, educate the public, media, courts and legislators.
Without sound, comprehensive data on what the wild horse is, how it uses the range and how management styles impact that structure, we will never be managing the wild horses as the law intended. Without reforming the entire federal grazing program wild horses will simply continue as a scapegoat.
BLM planned a roundup at Snowstorm without sound data and analysis. BLM began to set panels for the removal and invited a member of the media (that was on range with WHE) to visit.
WHE filed litigation. There was no data to support the removal. The boundary line for this HMA is bogus and illogical. Water improvements were done after a mine took over the area of the spring for wildlife, one half mile off the HMA. This "error in judgement" causes the Snowstorm horses to travel off HMA as there is now, after the mine, no stable year round waters source. BLM documents made assertions about migratory patterns between HMAs.
When asked for BLM documentation they claimed it was not available at the district level and (absurdly) had to be requested from DC.
BLM cancelled the operation.
In 2015 the BLM entered back into an agreement with tribal authorities and USFS to remove horses from what is simply called "McDermitt" but is a mix of of land in 3 jurisdictions. The horses removed would be turned over to the tribe, once again, and sent to slaughter.
Our range work, that included aerial surveys, showed that BLM criteria to distinguish origin of wild horses was not only inadequate, it was based on nothing but assertions. Our work showed the horses were indeed federally protected public horses. Our documentation included behavioral comparison, migratory patterns and water inventory.
A legal team used this our extensive field documentation and engaged both formally and informally.
BLM cancelled the operation.
National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was commissioned by the BLM to study 12 points of the BLM WHB program. The study cost over $1 million tax payer dollars. (The NAS did not review handling or holding facilities and animal health issues.)
We engaged the NAS members at public forums and provided them with our range data. Our conversations continued beyond the scope of the meetings where BLM had not approved public findings as inclusive to analysis. But our work shed some light.
In 2013 the NAS repeated it's findings, the same they have repeated since the 1980's, that the BLM program is not based on scientific data but conjecture, habit and is perpetuating many of the issues we face today.
The NAS study has not been implemented into practice. Instead only aspects of the report that furthered current agenda have even been discussed.
Our field work lays a critical foundation for the actions we take at Wild Horse Education. This kind of work can not be accomplished by a one or two day trip to the range to grab a photo, it takes research and vigilance. Only when all parties devote time and energy to creating an honest conversation will there be meaningful progress toward actualization of preservation of public land and public horses. Until that time field work can create an effective tool against unjustified actions.