The Big Picture

I’m a lot behind in blog posts, but as people start processing the Billings BLM’s decision to remove horses bait traps I though I’d give one a go. Although each decision is often met with despair, and opposition, it seems like there is more confusion than normal. As more groups respond, it seems like there’s a lot more misinformation. Despite TCF creating a summary of the decision, people still seem confused, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to add some of my thoughts. While TCF did a great job of presenting the facts, I worry that people are missing the scope of the big picture.

One of the considerations to removed Nye is that she has a hernia, but I've always thought if she's made it in the wild this far with one, she can continue to do so.

One of the considerations to removed Nye is that she has a hernia, but I’ve always thought if she’s made it in the wild this far with one, she can continue to do so.

I’m pretty sure not even the Billings BLM likes the idea of removing horses, but the comment period has passed. The removal will happen. The sooner people accept that, the sooner we can look toward the future of the herd. Currently the numbers are above AML, and with limited space and predators, the horses need to be managed. Currently PZP is being used, but without horses over ALM it is unrealistic that all will remain free. Then, with careful management the need for removals can be eliminated once the numbers are more sustainable.

Primitive Oregon might be removed.

Primitive Oregon might be removed.

My concern isn’t for the removal anymore. That ship sailed when the BLM made their decision. My concern is the implications that this decision will have on the long-term health of the horses. The last time horses were removed in the Pryors there wasn’t as much demand as in past years to adopt the horses as in past years. The horses this year might stand a chance, but I worry about the horses that will be removed the next few years. Which is why I’d rather not see the process prolonged longer than it needs to be.

It can be frustrating when mares like Firestorm (Firestorm in back with her son Okomi) always seem to loose offpsring to a removal.

It can be frustrating when mares like Firestorm (Firestorm in back with her son Okomi) always seem to lose offspring to a removal.

Although young horses are ideal to remove, if mares and foals are removed it is taking even more away from the population. Regardless if they have foals yet, mares that are removed will make it hard to determine if the new PZP program is effective. It’s tempting to say that any lower foal counts are due to PZP, those counts don’t include the mares that were removed. I suppose you could still see some effect if the population stays around AML, but I don’t think there can be accurate data on if PZP is working until a new cohort of 1-3 year olds emerges that hasn’t been affected by the removal.

Although Nova is a rare color, she had a filly after my visit. I worry that mares with foals might be convienent targets.

Although Nova is a rare color, she had a filly after my visit. I worry that mares with foals might be convenient targets.

I may have concerns, but that doesn’t mean they will happen. I have no doubt that the Billings BLM will execute the removal and adoption with integrity. Best case scenario, only the horses with the least impact will be removed and they all get adopted. I’d like to think that would happen, and I’m sure it will, but I also don’t want to ignore other scenarios either. When I analyze an issue I try to put all subjective feelings aside, and use objective reasoning to come to conclusions. It can be hard to do with such enduring horses, but I think it will make a difference when analyzing the long-term health of the herd.

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