Hello and Happy Thursday to everyone! As promised, we will continue to break down the EA and try to answer your questions about this process. If you have not read the TRNP Draft EA, please make sure you do!
Over 19,000 people commented in the last public comment period. We know that the overwhelming number of those comments were in favor of keeping the horses. From those comments, the Park should have considered other reasonable alternatives. As we said yesterday, the last 2 pages of the EA let us know what options the Park will NOT be considering.
According to the Park, they used those public comments to develop the alternatives they presented to us.
As part of the NEPA process, one of the options that the Park HAS TO consider is a “no action alternative” – that is Alternative A. If you have not read the 1978 EA, you can find a link for it in the Library section of our website.
The 1978 EA pulled a random number of 35-60 horses presumably out of thin air and decided that was THE NUMBER of horses that would be allowed in the park. A BLM range specialist came out and reviewed the 1978 EA. He not only debunked everything in it, but he also specifically said that the park could hold more than 35-60 horses!
They didn’t listen any better then than they do now. They signed off on the EA as it was and that has become the “Law of the Land” so to speak when it comes to wild horse management in TRNP.
They have never kept the horses at that number.
The park also introduces us to the NEW ways they will be rounding up horses:
“Under all alternatives, the key method for capture would be helicopter roundups, which are the most efficient technique for horse removal and herd reduction on the landscape, particularly where the terrain is not favorable for off-road vehicles.”
“Horses that are not captured during initial helicopter roundups would be collected by wranglers on horseback, wranglers on foot using low-stress herding techniques, additional subsequent helicopter roundups, or on-the-ground tranquilizer darting techniques. Baiting and trapping is another potential capture method that would remain a tool under all alternatives. However, trapping has not yet proven effective because forage and water are readily available on the landscape, non-target wildlife consume the bait, and the horses are dispersed widely in the Park.”
So if the last 2 pages of the EA were not enough to upset you, perhaps this part of the EA will!
But – make sure you read things CAREFULLY….
“However, trapping has not yet proven effective because forage and water are readily available on the landscape”
Remember that line, because later on they will let us know that there is not enough forage and water for the horses and other large ungulates.
Under Alternative A, 130-165 horses would be captured in a weeklong round up using helicopters and outriders. They would then hold helicopter round ups every 4 years to keep the herd at the desired number of 35-70 horses.
Captured horses would be offered to the Tribes first.
Remember, the Tribes let the park know that they do not want the horses and asked that the Park keep the horses IN Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
That means that the other horses will be sold on a Government Surplus website (GSA) and hopefully they do not go to kill buyers. That will be hard to tell because the Park does not vet buyers and there is no follow-up on the horses once they are sold.
Let’s not forget this part:
“contraception on a segment of the horse herd using chemical or surgical methods, and removal of excess horses would continue to occur to achieve the herd size objective defined in the 1978 EA (NPS 1978).”
This is the best-case scenario the park is offering us and they are only offering it because they HAVE TO.
In Alternative B – the horses would be phased out in an expedited fashion – within 2 years. They will do an initial weeklong round up using helicopters to capture the horses. They will continue to capture horses in an expedited fashion so that all of the horses would be removed within 2 years.
Under this scenario, the horses will be once again offered to the Tribes first before they end up on GSA auctions. No contraception will be used on the horses under this alternative.
Alternative C – this WAS the Park’s preferred action before the EA came out and they changed their mind telling us that they have not chosen an alternative yet.
Under this alternative, horses will remain in the park for about 10 years as they gradually reduce the herd.
The Park explains:
“Similar to Alternative B, an initial roundup effort would be conducted to significantly reduce the number of horses in the Park. As the horses are captured, they would be removed from the Park using the methods described under Sections 2.3 and 2.5. A representative subset of nonreproductive (chemically or surgically contracepted) horses would be returned to the Park to live out their lives. It is anticipated that the phased reduction would occur over 10 years or longer.“
Helicopters, chemical and surgical contraception, outriders and wranglers and no more than 35-70 horses allowed within the Park’s boundaries.
How many of you that contributed to the 19,000 comments that the park received offered ANY of those as alternative management practices that you wanted to see?
Remember: One of the primary goals of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is to encourage meaningful public input and involvement in the process of evaluating the environmental impacts of proposed federal actions.
There were definitely no signs of that in the Civic Engagement report that the Park released after the last comment period.
Actually, these alternatives seem to be the exact same ones they gave us in December when they announced their proposed action – TOTAL ELIMINATION OF THE HERD, aren’t they?
For the record: Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates does NOT and WILL NOT support ANY of the alternatives the park has offered. And neither should you!
The Park has addressed the comments they received from the majority of those 19,000 of us who commented last time. Tomorrow we will talk about what happened to those 19,000 comments.
Thank you for your support and have a GREAT day!