Wild Horse population in 1971 is a topic we should all be discussing because BLM claims they need to manage for a total national population of roughly 27,000 wild horses stating on their website that there were only 25,000 on the western range in 1971.
We know that in the 1986 Federal Registry the BLM stated that there was no census done until 1973, and that any population estimates done in 1971 were pure conjecture.
The above image is from the "Relabeling of Acreage Created the Overpopulation Myth of Wild Horses & Burros" paper written by OWHO Board president Theresa J Babour avaiable by clicking the link below.
Recently we were made aware of another BLM historical publication: a 1972 Draft Environmental Impact Statement titled "Livestock Grazing Management on National Resource Lands"
In this document BLM estimates the wild horse AUMs or Animal Unit Months at 760,000 for wild horses and 47, 500 for burros for 1971. An AUM is the amount of forage consumed by one wild horse or two burros in one month. It also represents the amount of forage consumed by the animal(s) in one month.
The above image is from the BLM EIS linked above from 1972.
Wild horses and burros graze twelve months per year. To convert AUMs to population you would divide the AUM by 12 for horses and by 6 for burros. So the above referenced document is estimating the population in 1971 to have been roughly 63,300 wild horses and 7,900 burros.
We know by looking at the actual census done in 1973 that the total population of wild horses and burros was roughly 60,000. This means the total estimated population of wild horses and burros, 71,200 in the 1972 EIS, would indicate that after the act was passed in December of 1971, the BLM allowed or did themselves remove approximately 12,200 horses before the EIS document was put out in 1971.
Why after a federal law was passed to protect them because they were fast disappearing did BLM remove 12,200 in the first 2 years? Why is BLM claiming now that there were only 25,000 wild horses in 1971? We have 2 documents ow that prove BLM did not know how many horses were out there in 1971, but 1972 estimates showed at least 71,200.
If BLM gathers the 20,000 wild horses they plan to gather this year we will be below the number of horses and burros on the range in 1971 when Congress was so alarmed that they unanimously passed a law to protect a :fast-disappearing" native and wild species.