"Wild Horse Petition" - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 03:22 AM
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[QUOTE=loosie;1970614141]If I found that sort of view about brumbies, I just wouldnt tell anyone they were! Frequently I have heard the opposite here, how wondrous brumbies are & how faithful & gentle & smart. How you can trust any of them with your 5yo child... which is just as silly......
QUOTE]

In the area where I was, the heavily populated East, there are few mustangs, and even fewer folks who can appreciate those instincts honed in the wild. Couldn't really hide her origin. Mine had a BLM freeze brand on her neck. There were a few others in a rescue type place nearby with a big N freeze brand from the state of Nevada. I offered to work with them, but the lady who owned the place and I took an immediate disliking for one another. When I left the US, several years later, those mustangs were still unapproachable in her pasture.
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post #32 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Filou View Post
I'm under the impression that the horses are over grazing their land, but the reason the horses are there and not cattle is because the land isn't suitable for cattle. Hence cattle being the reason for poor grazing for the mustangs. Cattle is taking up all the usable real estate. I'm also under the impression that land that is suitable for cattle is being sold for grazing and thus cattle are decreasing on public lands, but may be increasing as whole (or at least were over the past 10 years, we may start hitting a plateau as majority of our usable land is delegated).
Additionally mustangs over populate the land they are let to use and degrade it, but most of the time it's land that can not tolerate grazing(hence no cattle). With some plant types, the horses(or any grazing animals) can actually be beneficial with the correct practices.

tldr version,
The land was no good to begin with, and it's only being made worse by overpopulation of mustangs. Due to other uses for good land, this is the only land made available to mustangs.
So much misinformation in there.

Land that can support horses can be utilized for cattle. Often a rancher has to haul in water ( which then gets used by horses and other animals, to their benefit. Just part of the deal and rancher is not reimbursed).

Fewer ranchers are using government leases, which means no maintenance, monitoring, or improvements are being made anymore. So, yes, the land and forage is being degraded by horses and other ungulates and benefiting fewer herbivores and impacting all wildlife ( rodents, fowl, reptiles). No resources to improve the land. Ranchers did it. Not reimbursed.

Government land is not being sold. There have been a few instances in the West where there have been swaps in order to make larger contiguous blocks of land. Not so broken up. Largely due to very the needs of recreational users.
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post #33 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 12:20 PM
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@boots Maybe you can help me understand more then. I don't see how cows could flourish in those areas. For example the calico mountains, or the lava beds in Nevada. I haven't been there but it doesn't seem to me like things would really do well enough to turn around any profit there. Or areas I've experienced first hand, such as palm desert in California. My understanding is that we are removing horses because the land can't support them, so how would it support cattle? Can you break it down for me?
I understand that the government may ask a rancher to do certain improvements and then need to pay them to do it. Is it typical that a rancher would be reimbursed from the government for what they choose to do with their own land without the government requesting it?
Sorry I'm going to edit here to add this in. When looking up if BLM ever sells land, they themselves say they do.
https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/fi...nd%20Sales.pdf
Maybe I am misinformed, but I take that to be a reliable source of information. Is there something I am missing?
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post #34 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 12:30 PM
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Ok, I will try and explain it to you @Filou . If our cows were taken off of the range and a horse herd moved in, that overgrazing would damage the native plants to an extent that they would not recover. The animals would damage any water holes left straight to a mud mess and there would be nothing left.

Because our cattle are there we make improvements required to keep everything watered. We protect the grass by managed grazing. We monitor our use and have generations of knowledge to do so in a way that does not damage our land (well, our range areas) for the following year.

I know a person who was removed from his range. He fought to have them take the horses away. The numbers were too high for the land. Even with all of his cattle removed the numbers were far to high. The land is now damaged beyond usefulness. Much would have to be done to make it beneficial again, but the government does not do that work.

He videoed the horses in a last ditch effort to change the decision of the people with power. The horses were dying all over. What could make it to the mud hole left of what he once maintained were unable to get anything to drink, and a foal lay thirsting to death and being trampled down into the mud.

It was such a sad sight. I know to many the plight of the rancher doesn’t mean much. It is only one family, one herd of cattle. I wonder how much more a person would realize his worth when they saw the large, once beneficial land now almost barren...
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post #35 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 12:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Filou View Post
@boots Maybe you can help me understand more then. I don't see how cows could flourish in those areas. For example the calico mountains, or the lava beds in Nevada. I haven't been there but it doesn't seem to me like things would really do well enough to turn around any profit there. Or areas I've experienced first hand, such as palm desert in California. My understanding is that we are removing horses because the land can't support them, so how would it support cattle? Can you break it down for me?
I understand that the government may ask a rancher to do certain improvements and then need to pay them to do it. Is it typical that a rancher would be reimbursed from the government for what they choose to do with their own land without the government requesting it?
Some places require more than 100 acres per cow/calf pair to support them. I have a friend in AZ whose private place is rated at 250 acres per AU (cow/calf pair will require one animal unit). Those areas sure look crummy.

When people lease ground from the gov they get a cheap price. You've probably heard that. But they have to keep records on forage variety and amount, correct any erosion that be is identified ( even if it was just caused by rain), often move or change fence types if a biologist thinks it would be better for antelope migration.

And they CAN'T do anything to improve forage, or fix erosion without the gov's permission. And that can take a long time.

As far as being profitable to run cows on junk pasture, sometimes it's still worth it to a rancher to put cows on a huge area for even a few weeks.

I went to private leases some years ago. I pay more, but I don't do fences or dirt work. And the owners are right on top of weed control, etc. I help, but I'm not financing the whole thing, only to have people chase my cattle on four-wheelers or be told to pull the cows early, without a refund.

There are places where horses can't thrive without a lot of human support. I know BLM gets sued everytime they make a change, but they sure try to please everybody.
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post #36 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 12:44 PM
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I think that what you are seeing, that the horses have bad land, you just are missing that it wasn’t bad land to begin with. The land the cows are on looks better because it is maintained by the people running the cattle.

Is that more understandable?

Also, I must join @boots in stating that I am sure the blm does the best it can do. They likely have their hands tied by trying to make everyone happy and a lack of understanding from the general public.
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post #37 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 01:07 PM
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I have state land about a half mile from me. When they run cattle on it, it is 2/sq mile. They run them for about a month, then pull them off. The college roommate who now has a sheep ranch runs his sheep in the mountains for about 3 months. During that time, they spend a month on each third of the land. They also use private land when available because it is a better business deal and because a lot of government land has been pulled from grazing - due to politics, not because the land had a problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filou View Post
...When looking up if BLM ever sells land, they themselves say they do.
https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/fi...nd%20Sales.pdf
Maybe I am misinformed, but I take that to be a reliable source of information. Is there something I am missing?
Yes. The BLM can sell land, but it is very rare. They do land swaps sometimes, but they are NOT selling land to ranchers in any significant amount. They will trade XXX acres for XX acres and a right of way, etc.

The problem with mustangs is that they are not managed. They can increase at 15% a year. They don't move around. No one says, "They can stay here for 6 weeks, then we'll ship them in trucks 200 miles away to a different section." Unlike deer, no one hunts them. They reproduce until there is nothing left to eat, and then the land is so beat down it will take decades to recover. They aren't on bad land because someone PUT them on bad land. They are on bad land because the mustangs overgrazed it until it BECAME bad land.
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post #38 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 01:51 PM
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With land degradation, couldn't it go both ways? Sometimes the horses may ruin the land and sometimes the cows might. I've heard it both ways now even within this thread!
I'm not sure what percentage of ranchers are perusing land management, but I can see how it would be a lot easier for the government to throw ranchers some money and have them do the work. I'm sure it's much more of a process for the BLM to maintain their lands.

If cows were removed and horse moved in it would really depend on how many horses were moving in. If it was equal to the animal units of the cows then the land would require maintenance. If it was a lower number of cows or horses that the land could support without intervention then you wouldn't need to do anything.

However it ends up, if there were neither cows nor horses the land would be in a much different state. We probably all know this to some degree or another but it takes time for the land to recover from grazing regardless if the land it maintenance or not, and the land goes through many stages as it becomes useful for wildlife again.

I think this really gets down to why I don't think there's a valid argument between cows and mustangs. I still feel I'm doing my part by owning one who's not in a holding pen, not destroying the land etc. I like to think if the people who want to 'save the mustangs' actually went out there with their bodies to do something we might be in a different place. I guess it would be interesting to see the cost benefit of someone signing a petition which takes 30 seconds versus them going out and helping with management. Well I'm sure there's people who would love to do that, but the government doesn't really allow volunteers...

Although I really can't see why it would be worth anyone's time to have 2 cows across 200 acres. Even though you could turn a small amount of profit and have it be for a short time is it really worth the inconvenience? That's more of a personal feeling I have, there very well may be people who think that's the right thing to do.
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post #39 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 03:17 PM
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Ah... Now you've touched on regeneration of the land for carbon capture, food production, and the benefit of wildlife and recreation.

The leading proponent is Alan Savory. Very interesting stuff. A bit "one size fits all" but still useful. Another favorite of mine is Jeffrey Mundell in central CA. He's running cattle using old ways with a new twist. Intensive grazing and rotation He's really turned the place he's on around. But the BLM can't utilize great management with the feral horses. Maybe if they weren't sued everytime they exhaled.

It also gets very interesting (to cow nerds, anyway) to match cattle breeds to environment. The guy with a ranch rated at 200acre/AU isn't going to do great running Angus. But he can be successful with cattle suited to that environment. I almost wish I were down south. I've been learning about Nguni cattle and would love to try them in our desert regions.
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post #40 of 69 Old 10-14-2018, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Filou View Post
...However it ends up, if there were neither cows nor horses the land would be in a much different state. We probably all know this to some degree or another but it takes time for the land to recover from grazing regardless if the land it maintenance or not, and the land goes through many stages as it becomes useful for wildlife again...
This is a fallacy. Grazing doesn't need to harm the land and can in fact improve it. I did data collection for a study done by the Utah Division of Wildlife in the early 80s that showed sheep grazing could improve the land compared to not grazing - provided it was done right. But doing it "right" meant grazing, then REMOVING. Which can and is done with cattle and sheep, but is not done with mustangs.

Grazing does not run the land down. OVER-grazing will. And to prevent overgrazing, you need management. That is what mustangs do NOT get, and why they are destructive.

My friend with a sheep ranch does the same thing with the land he owns. He deliberately grazes it down to almost nothing for specific times. And by doing so, his alfalfa yields have gone up four-fold while giving up the use of fertilizer. A neighbor last year offered him a lease on some burned out pastures hoping to replicate what he sees happening in my friend's fields.

The Forest Service land he has his sheep grazing on looks great. It is the same land I did vegetation surveys on nearly 4 decades ago. He's had the grazing permits for 20+ years and the land is doing better now than when almost no grazing was being allowed. And the deer and elk (and now bears and cougars) are benefiting, although his herders now have to carry rifles after having a couple of horses attacked by cougars! He also is seeing more losses to bears and fewer to coyotes, probably because the land is now supporting larger numbers of larger herbivores.
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