Dear Extension Foundation Partners,
I am writing to share with you a phenomenal opportunity that facilitated psychological safety and crucial conversations about the sustainable management of free-roaming equids at the 2023 Free-roaming Equid Summit held last fall in St. George, Utah. The Summit brought together stakeholders from across the spectrum of human emotions, values, and perceptions about wild horses and burros and their management. Summit participants engaged BLM and USFS line managers one-on-one in open and frank discussions about what constitutes sustainable management. Last year the BLM gathered 21,000 wildlife horses and burros and returned 2,000 back to the range that was treated with fertility controls. This means they must now house 19,000 more horses on top of the 60,000 already held off the range. Because of the increased costs of off-range holding, the BLM will not have money to gather horses and burros in 2023. This means the population will return to 2022 levels of over 80,000. This is unsustainable.
Thanks to the monumental efforts of USGS and BLM, we were able to pilot a new and innovative tool – PopEquus – which allowed all to, if you will “game” wild horse and burro management. The tool allows the user to model how a wild horse or burro population may respond to a series of management options over time, and more importantly, the costs. The tool enabled participants to set aside their anxieties and emotions for a brief period to focus on what achieving the goal of healthy herds on healthy rangelands might look like. It was a game-changer for all!
The great news is USGS and BLM have released PopEquus for public access. To facilitate public use and understanding of PopEquus,, The Free-roaming Equids Network has partnered with USGS and BLM to offer free webinars. The first will be held on April 5, 2023.
To learn more about the tool, and how to register for the webinar, please see the information provided below.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Terry A. Messmer