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9 A Way Forward
Pages 265-270

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From page 265...
... Senate Committee on Appropriations' 2009 demand for a comprehensive, long-term plan for the Wild Horse and Burro Program: to balance removals ­ with adoptions and to achieve appropriate management levels (AMLs)
From page 266...
... Improving Population Estimates and Informing Management Actions with Science Consistently conducted surveys of horse and burro populations that use scientifically sound methods of population estimation would substantially increase the credibility of the numbers reported by the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Improving the methods of horse and burro surveys was also called for by the National Research Council Committee on Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros in its 1980 and 1982 reports.
From page 267...
... However, there is substantial evidence in wild ungulate populations that self-limitation will involve shortages of forage and water for the population, which will increase the number of animals that are in poor body condition and dying, either directly from lack of food and w ­ ater or indirectly from increased vulnerability to disease. Although increased mortality would reduce population growth rates, it is unclear how much the growth rate would be lowered and what effect this strategy would have on the health of the rangeland and on the welfare of other animals on the range.
From page 268...
... Skepticism of BLM's credibility applied to all aspects of the program, including population estimates and population growth rates, genetic health of the animals, consequences of population-control strategies, AML establishment, and public-land allocation to free-ranging horses and burros. The committee acknowledges that science cannot transform how BLM is perceived by all members of the public.
From page 269...
... Although more frequent gathers would be required to achieve similar results on large HMAs in the western United States, any application of contraceptives or chemical vasectomies to a large percentage of horses in a gather would reduce the growth rate and thus the number of horses that BLM would have to remove to meet management goals. The committee recognizes that the multipronged approach of science-based tools that it is proposing would require substantial financial resources from BLM in the short term.
From page 270...
... By supporting such a team, BLM would be able to generate the scientific data needed to inform, explain, and defend management decisions. Furthermore, as recommended strongly by the National Research Council Committee on Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros in its 1980 and 1982 reports and by the author­ng committee of this report, using social science to proactively identify issues that i may cause tension with parties interested in horses, burros, and the multiple uses of public lands could help BLM to address some of the criticisms expressed to the committee by members of the public.

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