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Tell U.S. Forest Service to Protect Wild Horses in California

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Originally Posted: January 12, 2013

Tell U.S. Forest Service to Protect Wild Horses in California

FROM American Wild Horse Preservation

ACTION

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is seeking public input for revision of the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory Management Plan (TMP). This plan will establish the short- and long-term policies for management of this wild horse territory for the next 15 to 20 years. The USFS has revised its earlier proposal for wild horse territory and is now proposing to remove habitat from this herd.

The proposed management plan calls for a potentially massive roundup in October 2013 to remove as many as 893 wild horses from this WHT. This would be devastating for this herd, which hasn't been rounded up since 2006.

Sign an online petition (copy/paste URL into your browser):
http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6931/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=12436

And/or better yet, make direct contact:

Jenny Jayo
Devil's Garden Project Manager
phone (530) 233-8817
jjayo@fs.fed.us

Tom Tidwell
Chief, US Forest Service
phone (202) 205-8439
ttidwell@fs.fed.us

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

The Devils Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory is approximately 268,750 acres, or 419 square miles, in size. The USFS only allows 275 to 335 horses on this Territory that is also used by 10 different livestock grazing permitees. The proposed management plan calls for a potentially massive roundup in October 2013 to remove as many as 893 wild horses from this WHT. This would be devastating for this herd, which hasn't been rounded up since 2006.

Given the small percentage of USFS lands designated as wild horse habitat, the Service must do its utmost to protect and preserve the few wild herds that remain under its jurisdiction These horses are protected by federal law and cherished by American across the country.

This is the scoping period for revision of the management plan, so now is the time to let the USFS what alternatives the public wants to see for management of these wild horses. Please take easy action below to personalize and send in your comments. When you click send, your suggestions will be individually emailed to the USFS.

SAMPLE LETTER

I urge the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to devise a new management alternative for the Devil's Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory Management Plan (TMP) that will ensure the fair, humane and legal management of this herd and incorporate the elements listed below into one alternative.

Given the small percentage of USFS lands designated as wild horse habitat, the Service must do its utmost to protect and preserve the few wild herds that remain under its jurisdiction These horses are protected by federal law and cherished by American across the country. Accordingly, I submit the following comments on the scoping notice:

  1. I strongly oppose the proposed removal of 23,631 acres from the WHT (lands in the Triangle and Avanzino Ranches). Wild horses have clearly traveled between what the FS is now referring to the "East" and "West" portions of the WHT and this habitat should not be eliminated, nor should the WHT be divided.
  2. Sex ratio skewing should never exceed 50:50 male to female. USFS has data that shows existing sex ratios to be 43:57 favoring females. Altering this to 60:40 would be highly disruptive to the social structures and have a detrimental impact on the individual horses and bands. In addition, there is no scientific data to support the contention that artificially skewing sex ratios contributes to population suppression. In fact, anecdotal evidence shows that it does not.
  3. I oppose the proposed construction of new fencing in the WHT, with the exception of limited fencing that might help restore or protect impaired riparian areas. Fencing interferes with the movement and migration patterns of wild horses and other wildlife species and impacts the environment as a whole. I encourage the FS to remove as much fencing as possible in order to allow wild horses and other wildlife access to entire WHT.
  4. I support the maintenance and construction of water sources -- especially in underutilized areas of the WHT (such as Mowitz, Potters and Timbered Mountain) to improve wild horse distribution and prevent overgrazing in specific areas when necessary.
  5. I support the prioritization of federally-protected wild horses over private livestock and request an alternative that calls for amendment of the 1991 Forest Plan to reduce forage allocations for livestock grazing and increase the “Appropriate Management Level” (AML) for wild horses to accommodate the majority of the current estimated population.
  6. I support the use of PZP fertility control (1 and 2 year applications) to suppress population growth, reduce the horse population numbers and manage this herd on the range in order to avoid removals.
  7. The current horse population should be temporarily accommodated through a temporary reduction in livestock grazing until the population is reduced over time through the use of PZP. The goal of the PZP fertility control program should be eliminate the need for removals, not merely to increase the time between roundups. PZP has been successfully used for more than two decades by the National Park Service to manage a population in the Assateague Island National Seashore without a single horse removal.)
  8. While I oppose the removal of horses from the WHT, the Plan should mandate that removals should be incremental (i.e. not more than 50 per year) to allow for natural mortality to impact herd numbers and to protect from population crashes such as the 1992 winter when 50% of the herd died due to severe weather conditions.
  9. The Territory Management Plan should include an objective that encourages natural population controls, such as predation, and the protection of native carnivores as a means to suppress population growth and re-establish a healthy ecosystem.
  10.  The Plan should include a prohibition on permanent sterilization (i.e. spaying, gelding, etc.) measures as a means to suppress population growth, since those measures interfere with the horses’ wild free-roaming behaviors, which are protected by federal law.
  11.  The Plan should prioritize the use of bait and/or water trapping as a less intrusive alternative to traumatic helicopter for any removals that do occur.
  12.  Any removals that do occur should be restricted to specific areas where environmental deterioration is clear and only in cases where wild horse use is proven to be a major contributing factor to the deterioration.
  13.  Should helicopters be used for roundups, the Plan should incorporate the elements outlined in the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign's Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the humane treatment of horses during helicopter roundups. This includes the capture of horses for PZP application to be kept in intact social groups in order to minimize trauma and stress and a number of other humane measures. Current SOPs are highly inadequate and inhumane.

The USFS has an opportunity to respond to public sentiment on this scoping notice by developing an alternative that incorporates the above guidelines and goals. The USFS must manage public lands for all Americans and not continue to cater to commercial interests over the majority's will. I expect that my comments will be counted and weighed as any other comment received on this scoping notice.

Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely... 


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