POPULATION SURVEY TECHNIQUES
For a representative sample of six to eight of the larger Herd Management Areas (HMAs) that have received more-intense distributional-survey effort, please provide point locations from census flights (.shp, .shx, etc.) if available.
Please summarize which techniques for population enumeration and estimation have been employed across all HMAs during the last 10 years?
If not obvious from their descriptions of the techniques, have there been any HMAs during the last 10 years where efforts have been made to analytically estimate detectability (other than the current U.S. Geological Survey research program)? If so, can you please describe.
- If BLM horse and burro specialists use a static constant as a “correction factor” for “sightability,” what is the value used if one is used, and did the value vary across habitat types within an HMA (e.g., forest versus valley-bottom, low-sage habitats) or across HMAs? What factors do wild horse and burro biologists believe most strongly affect detectability (e.g., cover type, type of aircraft, elevation flown, snow versus no snow)?
What design (or factors) were used to determine which portions of an HMA were to be flown over for aerial censuses, and did those areas (or lines) change over time?
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) spoke about using reversible and permanent contraceptives to “maintain the health of the herd” at the first committee meeting in Reno. How does contraceptive that is reversible relate to the health of the herd? How or
1 All questions and requests were submitted to the Bureau of Land Management except where noted.
why would reversibility provide greater health, other than to increase stochasticity due to greater numbers of applications of contraception?
Complete spreadsheet with annual sums of horses (do not include burros) for all western rangelands at some fixed point in time in BLM’s annual cycle for each of the categories below.
- Total free-ranging population
- Total number removed
- Total number in short-term holding facilities
- Total number adopted
- Total number moved from short- to long-term holding facilities
- Total number ‘lost’ from long-term holding facilities
Complete spreadsheet with annual sums of horses (do not include burros) for each western state at some fixed point in BLM’s annual cycle for each of the categories below.
- Total free-ranging population
- Total number removed
Complete spreadsheet with the number of animals of each age-sex category removed from each HMA on a given date.
Complete spreadsheet with number of animals in each age-sex category that were adopted (removed) from short-term holding facilities each year.
Complete spreadsheet with number of animals in each age-sex category that were removed from short-term holding facilities and placed in long-term holding facilities each year.
Complete spreadsheet with number of animals in each age-sex category that were lost (removed) from long-term holding facilities each year due to deaths or any other causes.
Complete spreadsheet with herd-specific annual counts, date of count, type of craft (helicopter, fixed-wing plane, vehicle, or horseback), population estimates, percent of HMA inventoried, and methods used for inventory for a committee-selected sample of 40 HMAs for the years 2000-2011.
Provide counts, population estimates, and removals for each HMA for the last 2 years.
Based on the census and population estimate records provided by BLM for a sample of HMAs, it is difficult to understand how these data are converted into the annual national population estimates for free-ranging horses reported by the national program office. It is important for the committee to understand the process used for converting and aggregating the HMA numbers into a national statistic. The committee requests an explanation of how this is done and some documentation of the process for the past several years.
The committee is specifically seeking documentation of the national statistics and requests that BLM provide the HMA estimates the national office received for the last 5 to 10 years that were used to generate the annual state and national estimates.
Can BLM provide any information or impressions it has regarding genetic issues or genetic defects in the herds in any of the HMAs? Obviously quantitative data (that is, number of cases) would be best, but even information on presence or absence of genetic issues would be useful as well as just any suspicions it has about genetic issues in any of the herds.
BLM has indicated that genetic defect conditions have been observed in the past (e.g., club foot, blindness) on some HMAs, but no information about which HMAs these conditions have been observed in was provided. Can BLM tell the committee which HMAs have shown evidence of any of the conditions mentioned in the previous BLM response and, if known, how many cases of the condition were observed or when they were seen?
In previous correspondence, BLM has indicated that periodically it does move horses or burros between HMAs for genetic or other reasons. Are there any protocols in place or procedures used to determine when to translocate animals and how to get them established at their new sites? For example, are translocations only done during certain times of year? Are horses held at the destination site in captivity before being released? Are translocated horses supported in any way (supplemental feed or water)? Is there any kind of post-release monitoring in place when a translocation is done?
Please provide the committee with copies of the genetics reports submitted to BLM.2
In a summary table please include:
- Population name (or other identifier)
- Estimated population size
- Number of samples analyzed
- Number and identity of the genes (loci) analyzed
- Estimated allelic diversity (average number of alleles/locus)
- Estimated heterozygosity
- Fis value (estimated inbreeding coefficient)
- Any suspected genetically based health issues
It would be useful to know results of the estimated degree of genetic differentiation (Fst) among some or all of the BLM populations if this exists.
Please provide the committee with the following information
- Report of genetic studies on burro populations
- Fst values based on microsatellite studies between burro herds within states and between states
2 This question and the remaining under “Genetic Information” were submitted to E. Gus Cothran of Texas A&M University.
- Dates of individual surveys for horse genetics reports
- Description of information provided in the fourth column of the horse genetics reports.
- Fst values based on microsatellite studies between horse herds within states and between states
Is any more genetic information available about herds that may have evidence of Spanish genetics that has not been provided in reports already submitted?
THE USE AND APPLICATION OF WINEQUUS
For a representative sample of six to eight HMAs throughout the western United States, please provide copies of the herd management assessments prepared prior to each roundup-removal action, fertility-control treatment, or both and respond to the following questions:
- For each HMA, what were the parameter values [survival and reproductive rates, carrying capacity (K), removal (by age/sex), contraceptive effectiveness] used each time WinEquus was used?
- How were the above parameters estimated? If based on data, how were those data used? If estimated, what were the rationales?
- What were the results of the above analyses?
- How precisely were the above results used in management, for example, to make decisions about how many females of what age class to remove or to treat with contraceptives?
APPROPRIATE MANAGEMENT LEVELS
How often have appropriate management levels (AMLs) been reset since 1971 for the subset of 40 HMAs selected by the committee? What are the reasons they were reset?
Please give the committee three more detailed examples of how the need to reset an AML was determined. What criteria and measurements were used? What was the relative importance of different criteria?
How does BLM decide between animal unit month allocation to wildlife species, horses, and livestock? Please provide three cases of how the decision was made and what data were used to make the decision.
Please provide the BLM report on acres that have been removed from the Wild Horse and Burro Program.
Are “land health standards” defined in: a) 43 CFR § 4180.1.; b) H-4180-1 [Rel. 4-107, dated 1/19/2001; c) 60 Federal Register (FR) at 9954; d) 43 CFR § 4180.2(b); or e) are a) and b) the same document? The most concise statement seems to be found in 43 CFR § 4180.1. Is this statement the most correct for defining Land Health Standards?