The Illegal Process of a Collaborative Group…it’s the Trend.

Heber Wild Horse Management Plan will be drafted by people who have no interest in providing management for the health or protection of the wild horses. The only real advocate for the horses was just fired. Fired from a working group??

They fired her through a voicemail…how cowardly is that?!?!
Click here to listen

This comes just days after Mary Hauser, with the help of her organization had submitted her thoughts on the recommendations for the first Heber wild horse management plan in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

The working group has been a very hostile environment for Mary. And the meetings have been held illegally behind closed doors, no public allowed, no minutes kept, not even a recording of these meetings. They have been held over the phone when Mary was at work and Mary was not allowed a substitute if she could not be there. Another member of our Arizona branch (the Heber Wild Horses Freedom Preservation Alliance – HWHFPA) and Val Cecama-Hogsett from CAES tried to substitute for Mary and even asked to be allowed just to listen as members of the public, we were not allowed.

Mary issued a public response to her voicemail firing from the working group which we are sharing here:

“The Deck is Stacked Against the Heber Wild Horses

The Heber Wild Horse Territory Collaborative Working Group Terminated Me Via Voicemail.

My Public Response by Mary Hauser

The reason I am writing a public response following my termination by the Heber Wild Horse Territory Collaboration Working Group is not to defend myself in the public’s eye. It is because I have seen the inside workings of this group and I am terrified as to what is being planned for the Heber Wild Horse Herd and I think the public has a right to know.
In Mike Schoon’s voicemail, he said, “In our opinion, you have not been working in the spirit of the Collaboration.” He never said what that “spirit” was, so I’m left to draw my own opinion. My opinion is because I would not conform to what I believe to have been their preset agenda for their ultimate management plan which will decimate the herd and send more than 3/4 of the Heber herd to a fate unknown.

As excited as I was to join the Collaborative Group and represent the Heber Wild Horses and their Territory, I am just as disappointed to see how it was orchestrated and carried out over the last twelve months. Arizona State University along with Southwest Decision Resources was contracted and paid to administrate the working group. The initial problem I had was for a meeting of this magnitude where in attendance we had the Forest Service, BLM, and Arizona Game and Fish officials as well as, cattle grazing permittees, and other interested parties involved and yet no official minutes were ever taken at any of these meetings.

I repeatedly asked for minutes to be taken during the first three meetings so that meetings could be reviewed. This would have been a nice paper trail for someone who would have wanted to know who made comments and who is in favor and who is not. There are very important decisions being made during these meetings and people should be held accountable for their decisions. I was told they were not taking minutes because they were not necessary. ASU answers…Someone would take Notes.

Originally I felt my contributions to the group would be to support and protect the herd with my long-term observations and studies of the herd, individual workings of the bands, and my knowledge of the forest. However, I realized I was being forced out of my role as a contributor and into the role of a quiet observer of a well-orchestrated screenplay of a management plan for the Heber Wild Horse Territory. I believe this was a plan which appeared to have already been devised and laid out prior to the first meeting of the Collaborative Group.
The reason this became so obvious is that members of the Collaborative Group openly admitted to me at the onset of these meetings that they did not have much if any knowledge of the Sitgreaves National Forest. Many, including some of the Forest Service personnel, had never even been out into the forest until a field trip with this group.

The next startling obvious change occurred when people who had never owned a horse or had very limited to no experience with the Heber Wild Horses were suddenly full of knowledge. Those same people now were full of suggestions about the logistics of gathering, monitoring, tagging, placing tracking collars, and darting birth control. They also took active roles in decisions on how many horses would be left on the land without education or concern of genetics or viable herd numbers.

Their sudden knowledge gave me the impression that they had been hired as actors (without pay) and apparently given scripts to drive the direction of these meetings that were already planned out. The meetings moved swiftly to follow the path of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recommendations and the activities that BLM currently engages across our nation.
It also became obvious within the first three meetings that there was no education of the day to day life of the Heber wild horses. When I attempted to educate, defend or make a point in support of the Heber Wild Horses it was ignored. Sometimes I would receive a follow-up phone call from one of the ASU members, Michael Schoon, to ‘correct’ me and advise me on what I could, should or should not say during the meetings. Meanwhile, it appeared others had freedom of speech.

Early on the BLM took the lead of this Collaborative Group even though these horses are not on BLM land. The BLM agent controlled the direction of how things were going to be carried out. The Forest Service employees to this point made very few comments even though they are charged with the management of these horses. Per the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the Forest Service has the responsibility to designate Wild Horse Territories and implement management plans for those Territories. Through the years the Forest Service had failed to devise a plan to manage the Heber Wild Horse Territory, so it’s not surprising that they have passed their responsibility off to the BLM which has had years of experience stripping the American West of wild horses.

We have to make it clear that there is nobody left on the working group panel who is truly an advocate for the horses. We know it by their own words…one of the so-called advocates suggested “euthanasia” as a way to cull the herd. We know it by their actions…the Forest Service illegally contracted with ranchers in the 1980s and 1990s to capture and remove free-roaming horses without ever having a management plan. Then again in 2005, they announced they were going to remove free-roaming horses until a court injunction prevented them from doing so. We know it by their inaction…a working group member turned her back on the wild horses for approximately three weeks in an area she was assigned by Forest Service to deliver water to during the drought.

Over the course of the meetings, their lack of professionalism was displayed as shown here in their final voicemail termination. This came as no surprise because they knew I would NEVER accept their plan to manage the Heber Wild Horse Herd into extinction.

To the Forest Service: This is notice to ensure that my name is NOT to appear on any documentation connected with the Heber Wild Horse Territory Management Plan.”

So the Forest Service has fired the only person in the group with historic and recent knowledge of the horses themselves. They fired the advocacy group that provided much-needed water to not only horses but all wildlife in the forest. They fired her because they found out during those water hauling efforts that she and the HWHFPA is a branch of CAES, and they knew the recommendations submitted recently, by Mary Hauser who is a board member of CAES,  followed laws that they want nothing to do with because it doesn’t support the rest of the working groups wishes to get rid of the herd.

They plan to decrease the herd to numbers that are too low to survive genetically. They want to make sure they do not lose the grazing rights for one single cow on the forest, but the horses are ok to go! They insist the herd has grown and justified it by now counting horses that live off the territory. The territory boundaries that were never drawn up to include the historic location of the horses. The horses have never only lived in the 3 by 20-mile map the FS drew and decided was going to be their territory. In fact, very few live on the territory because the entire territory is fenced for cattle allotments.

They insist there has been a population boom, when in fact the population has been maintained for 13 years by predators and other natural contributions. This year, for example, the herd went from an estimated 230 horses to under 180 because of drought and predation on foals. This is a herd where the ecosystem is balanced, except for the cattle and fences!

We have also noticed the complaints by livestock owners that livestock is being preyed on by predators. This means if they reduce the herd to the 60 to 66 horses the working group wants to recommend then there will be more livestock lost to predators, then the ranchers will want the predators killed. That will, in turn, lead to a larger population of horses….etc…etc…etc.

Here are the recommendations and attachments submitted by Mary in regards to the working groups draft recommendations to the forest service:



This ecosystem in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has several endangered species. One of them is the Mexican Gray Wolf. Although most predation on the wild horse population is due to lions, we know there are wolves in the herd territory, we saw them during water hauling efforts. We want them protected too and really feel this area of our world is so special, it is the only working ecosystem we know of where wild horses are being managed close to perfect because man has had very little impact.

In fact, the only impact other than the obvious fencing issues that impeded the free-roaming nature of the horses, and their ability to access their own territory in full, is the illegal gathering of horses that the FS paid ranchers to do periodically. This, of course, was before the working group and was brought to light when the FS tried to gather horses a few years back and was promptly sued for not having a management plan before the gather and removal of horses.

The current working group was commissioned by the FS as a result of that lawsuit, and the FS was to include the advocates involved in that lawsuit, of which Mary was one, and they were to include the public which they have never done, and that was brought to their attention many times over the past several months. AZ University representatives even went so far as to say they are above any open meetings or Sunshine Act laws.

Statement from the Arizona State University webpage on the working group:

“In 2007, the Forest Service entered into a Stipulation Agreement to develop a written Territory Management Strategy (Plan) in compliance with the Act and other relevant laws and regulations that govern Forest Service procedures. Creating a management plan for the HWHT will help provide for the sustainability of natural resources and horse populations connected to the territory. “

Click here to read the Court Agreement

Arizona State University also makes the following claim on the website:

“As the collaboration moves forwards, ASU will provide regular updates on the working group’s deliberations. As input and recommendations develop for the Territory Management Plan, ASU and the working group will provide ways for the public to engage.”

Ironically, not only have they not provided any updates, but they have also not made meeting public, provided any minutes or recordings of the meetings and expressly voted to remove members of the public from a meeting of the working group. (The other wild horse advocate (in name only) voted with the Federal and State Employees, ranchers and others at the meeting to oust public, and also not to allow Mary a substitute when the meetings were scheduled during her known work hours.

Ultimately, responsibility for following the court-ordered agreement, to develop this working group, and involve certain people, including the public, falls upon the FS and thus far they have not attempted to meet the judges mandate in doing so to develop a wild horse management plan. In fact, Richard Madril, the District Ranger for the Heber Wild Horse Territory and surrounding area, specifically told CAES board members that they have no power over what the working group does.

Mr. Madril also told CAES that the Forest Service is not a law enforcement agency, even though they do have law enforcement personnel. This was during the same discussion but addressing recent incidences of harassment including roping and trapping of the Heber Wild Horse herd on the territory.

Horse shot. No perpetrator ever found.
Trapped mare with her foal and another whose mother was outside the trap.
Halter around the neck from attempted capture.

A bit of research on that statement from the District Ranger and we found this statement on the Forest Service website:

Law enforcement is an integral part of the overall management of the National Forest System. Law enforcement personnel, line officers, and appropriate staff ensure that prevention, investigation, enforcement, and program management requirements are fully integrated into all National Forest System resource management programs. Law enforcement personnel operate as full partners within the Forest Service organization in carrying out the agency’s mission, especially in upholding Federal laws and regulations that protect natural resources, agency employees, and the public. Accomplishment of the Forest Service law enforcement mission is a product of trust, cooperation, and collaboration between law enforcement personnel and other agency employees.

National Forest lands are divided administratively into regions and each region has a Special Agent in Charge also known as a SAC who oversees the law enforcement program. Each region is divided into zones and special agents are stationed in each zone according to work load.


Uniformed Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) enforce Federal laws and regulations governing National Forest Lands and resources. As part of that mission LEOs carry firearms, defensive equipment, make arrests, execute search warrants, complete reports and testify in court.


Special Agents are criminal investigators who plan and conduct investigations concerning possible violations of criminal and administrative provisions of the Forest Service and other statues under the U.S. Code. Special agents are normally plain clothes officers who carry concealed firearms, and other defensive equipment, make arrests, carry out complex criminal investigations, present cases for prosecution to U.S. Attorneys, and prepare investigative reports.”

Mr. Madril went on to justify the lack of action taken on shootings, ropings and trapping of wild horses to be a problem of being understaffed. He said the first priority of their law enforcement ranger would be to people. So we asked how many problems they are seeing with people there? He said there are always accidents. One would think if there are ‘that’ many people issues in that area of the forest then perhaps the workload would be such that added law enforcement would be provided by the FS based on the above statement. However, when asked what the FS is doing about these incidents, Mr. Madril replied, “What would you like us to do?”

We explained what we would like the FS to do, and one member was able to calmly explain the duty the FS has to ‘do’ something. The other board member was not quite as calm and called Mr. Madril on his obvious sarcasm. However, the suggestions of cameras, increased presence and a press release with the position of the FS on incidents like these were suggested.

In the end, we also requested that as the agency that commissioned, and per the ASU is a partner in the working group, FS also reinstate Mary Hauser on the working group. If she is reinstated, we applaud her for her willingness to continue on in such a hostile environment. That truly shows her dedication to the Heber Wild Horse Herd.

The Hebers are a unique herd with old world, or primitive traits including leg bars, and the short thick neck and a short head with stout build. Like the ones pictured below. If the management plan comes out with the suggested Appropriate Management Level (AML) range that the working group is suggesting, it will mean the herd will have to be maintained genetically but introducing horses from outside herds from time to time. This has been done in other wild herds and CAES has always maintained that this is a way to water down these unique genetics so that no one herd has to be managed in a self-sustaining population that has enough horse to be genetically viable.

We thought we should leave you with some of the beauty since we shared the horror in the photos above this section.

one of Buckys mares




Gorgeous Winter Horse Quilted Wallhanging Being Auctioned



If you are interested in helping the quilting efforts to provide funding for things like legal fees, and water projects for Equines and wildlife please send us an email using the form below, or join the Facebook group: Equine Quilters – Quilts for the Horses, Habitats and Humane Handling

AUCTION  WILL RUN FROM 9/15/2018 (12 A.M. PST) TO 9/22 (12 P.M. PST)

To commemorate our epic fight for wild ones your very own throw. For you to snuggle under, a warm, handmade quilt made by Ruth Mullen in 2017. A 25W x 37L, cotton, quilted throw with a beautiful winter scene featuring a bay and gray, with two cardinals in the corner. On the other side a simple calico. All funds collected will fund CAES’s lawsuits to help our precious wild horses and burros remain healthy and free.



TO BID SIMPLY POST YOUR BID IN DOLLAR AMOUNTS (no cents please) IN THE COMMENTS ON THIS WEBPAGE BELOW. Starting bid of $75 to kick it off!



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shipping is free and your winning bid is tax deductible.

CAES is a 501c3, national organization for the protection of horses, habitats and humane handling (the essential 4-H). We are 100% volunteer, in the courts, at the legislature, and on the ground! Please consider making a bid or a donation today and help us help them.


BLM Announces Decision to Move Ahead with Plans to Experiment on Pregnant Mares

13 September 2018

BLM in Burns, Oregon announced their final decision to move ahead with plans to brutally sterilize wild, pregnant mares.


CAES has been fighting this plan since 2016 when they announced their first plan to do these experimental surgical procedures. The surgery is called an ovariectomy via colpotomy. It is a blind surgery in which the veterinarian reaches inside the mare, via the vagina and feels around for the ovaries. Once he locates (what he hopes is) the ovary, he inserts a tool with a chain loop around the ovary, then twists the chain to crush and pulled out the ovary.

2018-09-13 (5)

This surgery is still experimental in wild horses, which means it must be done in a sterile environment. BLM plans to do them at the holding facility.

BLM needs IACUC approval, which they have had from 2 different universities, both of which have pulled out of these experiments. Therefore there is now no IACUC approval.

2018-09-13 (1)

The veterinarians pushing this procedure have lied, and complaints have been filed, investigations into these veterinarians were launched, and yet BLM plans to move ahead.


CAES will be taking further action as we expect many, many organizations and people will be.

What can you do?
Call your Senators, Representative, and the National BLM office and tell them this abuse and barbaric treatment will not stand up to public scrutiny, and as a voter and owner of these wild horses, you do not want a penny of your tax dollars paying for this antiquated and barbaric experiments.

Or if you feel you want to try your hand at filing an administrative appeal against this action here is a great link with the regulations and procedures to get you started:




12 September 2018
From the BLM Daily Gather page:
“Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Summary: One hundred threee horses were gathered from the Muddy Creek HMA today. Body scores of horses were mostly 4’s with several 2’s and 3’s. There were 18 visitors at the site gather today.
Animals gathered: 104
Mares treated with fertility control: 0
Animals shipped: 104
Total Deaths Today: 1
Acute: 1
Chronic/Pre-existing: 0″
We do not know the reason one horse was shot. However, we know that the terminology “Acute” means it was a result of gather related activity. So YES BLM or their Contractors, and ultimately Rep. Stewart who did not STAY this gather, have killed one horse so far.
Our boots on the ground team heard the shot, asked for information and were denied. The response was that it would be in the gather report. You see above what was in the gather report…not enough information!

As many of you know the CAES member we work with the most on the Muddy Creek wild horse herd is Jen Howe. She has sent only one photo thus far. It was a photo that describes just how painful this is to her, and to many of us. The following photo was sent with the caption: 

CAES is pushing forward with the appeal. We do not know if we can get any of the Muddy Creek horses returned, we do know that any win, in this case, will be a win for future horses in every herd and at a minimum will be a win in the honor of the innocent, sentient beings that are being so brutally and tragically wronged by our government.

We ask you to keep calling, make your elected officials aware that you will NOT support them if they do not stop the mismanagement of our wild horses before they are all gone.


MUDDY CREEK ROUND UP starts at 8 a.m. MST
Call Chris Stewart  NOW, and don’t stop until he STAYS this action.
ASK him to honor the citizen stay and due process  TODAY!!
Fax 202-225-9627
Wild horses (birth of foal) May 25, 2016 1017
In most cases, the Department of Interior cannot implement a decision during a briefing for a Stay, HOWEVER:
If you file a request for a stay along with your appeal, a 45-day period runs after the end of the appeal period for the Board to rule on the request and during which time the decision does not take effect (unless the decision is effective immediately).
UNFORTUNATELY, the final agency (BLM) action was effective immediately, hence”:
Win or lose, our stay will be effectively MOOT because the damages would occur prior to our Due Process of our timely filed petition for Stay. Many of these damages will be irreversible. 
THE CULPRIT? A FEDERAL law passed by federal representatives strips citizens of their due process rights.
§ 4770.3 Administrative remedies. ALLOWS IGNORING the above:
. . . necessary to preserve or maintain a thriving ecological balance and multiple use relationship shall be effective upon issuance or on a date established in the decision.
wild horses part two newborn foal May 25, 2016 659

Radioactive Meat Shipped From U.S. to Where???

BLM Must Return the Gathered Horses to the Wild Horse Range in Nevada and Provide Water for Them

©CAES 2018
31 August 2018
   ***UPDATE: We have gotten no response to requests for information on where these horses are. We do not know how many have ended up in foreign slaughterhouses and fed to unsuspecting people in other countries. the united states should be investigated for crimes against humanity. these horses could very well have been a source of radioactive meat. It’s bad enough we cannot get the safe act passed to stop horses, non raised as food animals, from being shipped to other countries for human consumption…but radioactive?!?!***

Recently the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducted a gather of 801 wild horses from the Wild Horse Range in Nevada. The range is located on the Nevada Test and Training Range, part of the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base.

There has been no livestock on this land since the mid-1900’s. The nuclear testing done on the range makes it an unsafe location to raise animals to be used for human consumption. With the absence of livestock, this should be the prime location for BLM to use helicopters to dart the horses with PZP, an immunocontraceptive. That would provide safe, humane management on the range for the herd.

There is nothing in the current law that prohibits darting from a helicopter:

43 CFR 4740.1 – Use of motor vehicles or aircraft.
§ 4740.1 Use of motor vehicles or aircraft.
(a) Motor vehicles and aircraft may be used by the authorized officer in all phases of the administration of the Act, except that no motor vehicle or aircraft, other than helicopters, shall be used for the purpose of herding or chasing wild horses or burros for capture or destruction. All such use shall be conducted in a humane manner.
(b) Before using helicopters or motor vehicles in the management of wild horses or burros, the authorized officer shall conduct a public hearing in the area where such use is to be made.

If BLM follows the current trend of selling horses without any restrictions as to who is buying the animals, or what they do with them once purchased, or even if they allow adoptions of these particular horses, it would be gross negligence.

Studies since the Chernobyl nuclear incident in 1986 and even more recently from the Fukushima incident in Japan in 2011 have reported the dangers of meat and milk consumption from animals exposed to radiation or even grazing on forage in affected areas.

The Nevada Test Range is still radioactive. The wild horses eat vegetation that may be contaminated and drink water that still may contain these radioactive particles. These particles can transfer to humans upon consuming the meat. This is why many countries either stopped imports or tested imports of meat from Japan after Fukushima.

The daily gather reports listed 21 out of 31 horses euthanized as having clubfoot. This is an extremely high incidence of a congenital defect in a herd.

If BLM allows the sale of these horses, or even adoption there is no tracking that takes place to make sure these horses never enter the slaughter pipeline. American horses, including wild horses, are shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter and the meat is sold for human consumption.

BLM cannot afford to manage these horses for life in holding pens, as stated in their Justification for the Wild Horse & Burro Appropriations for FY 2019 statement. And they cannot just kill these horses pursuant to existing laws including the current appropriations and:

16 U.S. Code § 1338 – Criminal provisions
(a)Violations; penalties; trial any person who—
(1)willfully removes or attempts to remove a wild free-roaming horse or burro from the public lands, without authority from the Secretary, or
(2)converts a wild free-roaming horse or burro to private use, without authority from the Secretary, or
(3)maliciously causes the death or harassment of any wild free-roaming horse or burro, or
(4)except as provided in section 1333(e) of this title, processes or permits to be processed into commercial products the remains of a wild free-roaming horse or burro, or
(5)sells, directly or indirectly, a wild free-roaming horse or burro maintained on private or leased land pursuant to section 1334 of this title, or the remains thereof, or
(6)willfully violates a regulation issued pursuant to this chapter,
shall be subject to a fine of not more than $2,000, or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. Any person so charged with such violation by the Secretary may be tried and sentenced by any United States commissioner or magistrate judge designated for that purpose by the court by which he was appointed, in the same manner and subject to the same conditions as provided for in section 3401 of title 18.
(b)Arrest; appearance for examination or trial; warrants: issuance and execution
Any employee designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture shall have power, without warrant, to arrest any person committing in the presence of such employee a violation of this chapter or any regulation made pursuant thereto, and to take such person immediately for examination or trial before an officer or court of competent jurisdiction, and shall have power to execute any warrant or other process issued by an officer or court of competent jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this chapter or regulations made pursuant thereto. Any judge of a court established under the laws of the United States, or any United States magistrate judge may, within his respective jurisdiction, upon proper oath or affirmation showing probable cause, issue warrants, in all such cases.
(Pub. L. 92–195, § 8, Dec. 15, 1971, 85 Stat. 650; Pub. L. 101–650, title III, § 321, Dec. 1, 1990, 104 Stat. 5117; Pub. L. 108–447, div. E, title I, § 142(b), Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3071.)
Nevada Test Range Wild Horses: Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Contact: Click on a name to go to their website and contact them. Phone calls are the best!

Nevada Senators :

Dean Heller                                                                 Catherine Cortez Masto

Dean Heller                                                                 Catherine Cortez Masto
Republican                                                                   Democrat

Nevada Representatives:

Mark Amodei                                                                Ruben Kihuen   The horses were removed
from his district!

Mark Amodei                                                              Ruben Kihuen
Republican                                                                  Democrat

Wolves and Lions and Bears…Yes Please!

©CAES 2018
Val Cecama-Hogsett

Rewilding would be a great idea if done right. If done without balance it could be considered horse dumping.


A true rewilding of wild horses MUST include some form of population control until such time as their apex predators (lions, bears and wolves) are also reintroduced in numbers that control the populations of not only horses but also cervids and other species that affect the lands and riparian areas by overgrazing.
A “rewilding” when there is no plan in place for population management can lead to a bad situation. We spoke to folks who are taking horses from BLM holding pens to ‘rewild’ them on tribal lands When asked if they made sure the BLM horses they were taking  were treated with PZP, the answer was ‘no, but that they only took mares so it was no problem’…. (my indigenous relatives just lol’d because stallions are present on the reservations so they will find this mare only group).
This behavior is going to lead to wild horse population problems like those we see on the Navajo, Warm Springs, Yakima…etc etc reservations. A true rewilding is more than dumping one species onto land, it is a rewilding of the ecosystem, it is bringing nature back into balance so that human interference is not needed, or noticed anymore.
As we recently saw in the study released on wolves in Yellowstone, apex predators control cervid populations and would create a trophic cascade. This would be the situation we would see if apex predators were to regain their habitats in wild horse territories (and we mean wolves, bears, and lions):

  • control wild horse, cervid and yes livestock populations, 
  • decrease the impacts of grazing,
  • decrease water or riparian area usage,
  • the recovery of various plant species,
  • stream sides to regain plant growth
  • decreased erosion of streamsides or banks
  • increased shade type vegetation
  • cooler water temperatures,
  • increasing survival of marine species marine species
  • decreased widening of banks,
  • increasing water depth
  • bringing beavers back
  • dams increasing pools where wildlife can drink
  • increase shrub growth (from decreased grazing)
  • better protection of species such as greater sage grouse
  • decreased incidence and spread of prion-related diseases (mad cow, scrapie, chronic wasting disease) as populations are decreased first by sick and impaired animals

The list goes on to include more and more effects in a trophic cascade when true rewilding is taking place. So WHY isn’t this a management plan we see being implemented by our federal agencies? Why aren’t hinters interested in their big game species being healthy and free of chronic wasting disease that CAN transfer to humans through ingestion of meat? Those answers all lead back to the third set of animals controlled by these apex predators…livestock.

The killing of livestock by predators, even though the livestock producer is reimbursed for their dead animal, is seen as a cost to the profit line but is it really big enough to be the complete story?

No, of course, it isn’t. The truth of the matter is that when we protect populations of apex predators, such as wolves, and they are listed on the Endangered Species list this means that public lands ranchers (and this part applies to extractive industries using public lands too) are going to have restrictions in these habitats known to be used by that endangered species. This is why western states are scrambling, tripping over themselves to make promises to manage sage grouse habitat…they don’t want them listed.

It may mean less land is available, or fencing may not be permitted, or killing predators may not be allowed…and again this all shows in their bottom line. Right now our country is at a critical junction. Lawmakers or going to choose to protect our western heritage, or protect the profits that continue to flow out of our public lands to the hands of the wealthy, commercial industry.

When you vote in November:

  1. know where the candidates stand on public lands issues
  2. know if they vote for NEPA protections
  3. know if they vote to protect the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
  4. know if they vote to protect the Environmental Protection Act (EPA)
  5. Know if they vote to keep protections of wolves, bear, and even wild horses in the budget bills
  6. and know where their campaign money is coming from

If you need help finding these things out watch for part 2 of this article where we will bring in our partners in the UVOTE Coalition to help you find these answers.


This article was prompted by the August 30th article:

The reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park is tied to the recovery of aspen in areas around the park, according to a new study.
The study was published today in the journal Ecosphere.
“This is the first large-scale study to show that aspen is recovering in areas around the park, as well as inside the park boundary, said Luke Painter, a wildlife ecologist at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. Wolves were reintroduced to the park in 1995. The study shows their predation on elk is a major reason for new growth of aspen, a tree that plays an important ecological role in the American West.
Wolves are culling the elk herd, adding to the effects of bears, cougars, and hunters outside the park, which means less elk are browsing on aspen and other woody species. The presence of wolves has also resulted in most of the elk herd spending winter outside of the park, Painter said. Before wolf restoration, even when elk numbers were similarly low, most of the elk stayed in the park.
“What we’re seeing in Yellowstone is the emergence of an ecosystem that is more normal for the region and one that will support greater biodiversity,” Painter said. “Restoring aspen in northern Yellowstone has been a goal of the National Park Service for decades. Now they’ve begun to achieve that passively, by having the animals do it for them. It’s a restoration success story.”
Elk numbers in northern Yellowstone have declined from a high of nearly 20,000 in 1995 — the year wolves were restored to the park — to 7,579 counted over two days in January by biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and Yellowstone National Park.
The study answers the question of whether the return of wolves to Yellowstone could have a cascading effect on ecosystems outside the park, Painter said, where there is much more human activity such as hunting, livestock grazing, and predator control. There has also been skepticism surrounding the extent and significance of aspen recovery, he said.
“We show that the recovery of aspen is real and significant, though patchy and in early stages, and occurring throughout the region where elk population densities have been reduced,” he said. “Also important is that the regional distribution of elk has changed, and not just their number, and this is reflected by young aspen growing taller in winter ranges in and near the park. Meanwhile, elk densities have increased farther from the park. Other factors besides wolves affected elk, but wolves played an essential role in these changes.”
The researchers surveyed aspen from 2011-2015 in three winter ranges in the Yellowstone region. They compared that data to aspen surveys in 1997-98 in the park’s Northern Range, Gallatin National Forest Northern Range, and the Sunlight/Crandall Range, which provided a baseline for aspen conditions when wolves were beginning to colonize these areas.
They found that if elk densities were greater than about four elk per square kilometer, aspen were heavily browsed and suppressed. Elk densities in the Yellowstone region were generally greater than this prior to wolf reintroduction. With high elk densities, starvation was common and elk ate whatever was available, but with lower elk densities their effects are not so uniform, allowing for a patchy reduction in browsing and release of young aspen to grow taller.
“Our findings represent another piece of the puzzle as we’re trying to understand the role of predation in the ecology of the Rocky Mountain region,” Painter said. “Much of the research ecologists have done has been in the absence of non-human predators. Before the reintroduction of wolves, most experts didn’t think it was going to make much difference for aspen. Wolves didn’t cause aspen recovery all by themselves, but it is safe to say it would not have happened without them.”
Story Source:
Materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Journal Reference:
Luke E. Painter, Robert L. Beschta, Eric J. Larsen, William J. Ripple. Aspen recruitment in the Yellowstone region linked to reduced herbivory after large carnivore restoration. Ecosphere, 2018; 9 (8): e02376 DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2376