Comments due by August 3, 2012
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public input on which issues to consider and analyze when preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the proposed bait trap removal of an unspecified number of wild horses from the McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA), which is located in northern Wyoming, east of Cody. This colorful herd of horses is a popular ecotourism destination, especially given its proximity to Yellowstone National Park, which lies just 70 miles to the west of the HMA.
The BLM proposal includes:
► Managing this herd using PZP fertility control to "reduce the need for larger helicopter gather and removal operations." In fact, if used properly, PZP will eliminate the need for removals entirely. AWHPC supports this aspect of the plan.
► Utilizing bait trapping over a three year period to capture and remove "excess" horses. AWHPC supports bait trapping and gradual removals as an alternative to traumatic helicopter roundups if, and only if, removals are necessary.
► Maintaining the population at 100 horses (excluding present year foals). This is just below the mid-range of the allowable management level (AML) of 70-140 established for this HMA. Science indicates that a population of 100 horses is too low to ensure a healthy and genetically-viable population. AWHPC believes that this herd should be managed, at minimum, at high AML (i.e. 140 horses). Ideally, the AML should be increased.
► Continuing to permit livestock grazing within this federally-designated wild horse area. AWHPC believes that livestock grazing should be drastically reduced or eliminated from this area before wild horses are removed.
In addition, the BLM has reduced the size of the McCullough Peaks HMA by almost 35,000 acres of the original 138,576 acres. AWHPC recommends that the original acreage should be restored to allow for a larger, more sustainable wild horse population in this area.
Now is the time to submit comments urging the BLM to include alternatives for avoiding removals in this HMA and to ensure that any removals that do take place occur under the most humane and transparent standards.
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