Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting, Sept 10, 2013 Arlington, VA (part 2 of 4 — After the first break in the morning)

12 Sep

Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting, Sept 10, 2013 Arlington, VA

(part 2 of 4 — After the first break in the morning)

Note to my readers:

AS I watched the live-stream and the captured text, I noticed various problems with the captioning. It is evident to me that voice recognition software was used to capture the text from the speakers instead of a professional transcriber like a court reporter.

There are many words here that are not spelled correctly. When trying to read this captured text, and the word is unintelligible, trying saying the word out loud phonetically. I hesitated to change any text or make corrections as I did not want to be accused of modifying it to suit any particular person’s benefit or detriment. Please consider this not as an essay, but more as notes and a guide for further conversations.

 I should have mentioned this previously:

–  When you see this: >>   it means there’s a change of speaker. Sometimes the live-stream captioning added the names of the speakers and sometimes it did not.  

–  The multiple dash – – means that live captioning dropped some text.

–  Sometimes the live captioning repeated the beginning of a sentence and sometimes whole sentences were dropped.

–  I added double stars  **  when I believe the speaker changed.

–  Occasionally, I’ve added bracketed text for clarification purposes..


Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting Sept 10, 2013 Arlington, VA

(part 2 of 4 — After the first break in the morning)


Note to my readers:

AS I watched the live-stream and the captured text I noticed various problems with the captioning. It is evident to me that voice recognition software was used to capture the text from the speakers instead of a professional transcriber like a court reporter.

There are many words here that are not spelled correctly. When trying to read this captured text, and the word is unintelligible, trying saying the word out loud phonetically. I hesitated to change any text or make corrections as I did not want to be accused of modifying it to suit any particular person’s benefit or detriment. Please consider this not as an essay, but more as notes and a guide for further conversations.

 I should have mentioned this previously:

–  When you see this: >>   it means there’s a change of speaker. Sometimes the live-stream captioning added the names of the speakers and sometimes it did not.  

–  The multiple dash – – means that live captioning dropped some text.

–  Sometimes the live captioning repeated the beginning of a sentence and sometimes whole sentences were dropped.

–  I added double stars  **  when I believe the speaker changed

–  Occasionally, I’ve added bracketed text for clarification purposes.

This text is as it came from the captioning feature on the live-stream; no edits, spell checks or grammar was corrected — no editing except I broke the text into smaller paragraphs to make it more readable.  

…will make it easier to apply to animals in the west as well as other methods that the board itself asked us to look into. And I did want to mention that though we did not have researchers in the BLM at least wild horse and burro program correct me if there’s others around we do have a science team, we do have a scientific integrity officer for the agency. And for our program we do have a research committee, which is comprised of some of our people, some folks from other agencies whose job it is to coordinate research for the program using other people as the researchers. Yesterday here we did have our acting research coordinator who ising us online today.

But I just wanted to be clear that yes, we don’t have resources and we’re not going to build them up within our program but we do work with the externals which we think is good. We think it gives us a lot of out of the box ideas instead of just working with the same people year after year. Let’s see if there’s other ideas out there. That’s the whole point of the RFI. I also wanted to ask the chapter lead who — person who was in charge of reviewing this chapter for us in the BLM.

As you know, we’ve been looking at material as well to clarify a few things for us. And give some comments there was confusion as well and as I’m going to ask Rob and Dean I guess to come up both on the priority use question that was raised. This issue of where does it say the priority that wild horses and burros take or don’t take on the land and theres handbook question which is very confusing about which handbooks these folks looked at and I just want to ask you to clarify it from a management standpoint or operational standpoint, please.

>> The 2010 wild horse and management handbook does specify the use of a suite of published peer reviewed monitoring manuals handbooks, and technical references and they are attached as actually a page and a half of appendix to the 2010 handbook. The indicators to look at from those suite of publication, that is there.

>> I wanted to comment further on a comment that Tim made and add clarification to that. I thought I heard Tim say that the Wild Horse and Burro Act directs that horses be given priority that is the situation for only one thing. There is a designation for a wild horse or burro range. Then they’re to be managed exclusively for horses and burros, we have four designated ranges. But as they pointed 0 unfortunate in earlier slides, BLM’s mandate is to manage for multiple use and sustained yield. They also had a bullet that said horses are not to be the single focus and that is true for 175 of the HMAs, only four being managed primarily for horses and burros. Principlebly would be accurate, right?

>> No it would not. Can you repeat it, Dean. Sometimes semantics slip through from one ear to the other. You used the word principally. What was the sentence youius used.

>> The language in our act and regulations for Wild Horse and Burro ranges which is a special designation different than the normal HMA for the ranges, manage principlebly but not exclusively meaning we take care of wildlife also in four areas that have been designated to date. All the other 175 HMAs are to be managed for multiple use without priority necessarily be given to horses and burros. So I was concerned that your comment —
>> I was working off something they put on one of the slides. And also offered just my understanding interpretation at times some of these documents are a little difficult to decipher. From a logical standpoint makes sense that a herd management area should be given some type of priority to the horses and I’m not talking about exclusivity. Immoral I pretty cautious to make sure I reiterate the multiple use of the areas. But —
>> Well, the act is clear. They were to protect and manage them and for future generations and that’s BLM’s goal. But not in all the areas to give them priority. Only special desnecessary ig nations so thank you for that.

>> Before you step away, sorry, is there any clarification you want to give on the data transfer which Zach did address yesterday in terms of how we responded to information from the committee and got it from the field. Is there any clarity you want to offer since Zach is watching online again today.

>> Dean: Well, I think we did our best to provide the data requested and in some cases apparently we did not hit the mark. There was no resistance or purposeful ignoring the request of the committees. There were so many conference calls and back and forth, back and forth. We truly did do our best to provide what the committee requested. Or specialist in the field did not load them off but apparently we did not fill in all the blanks in all the cases.

>> JOAN GUILFOYLE: Rob, as lead this chapter was there any questions or clarification you wanted to ask the board from your standpoint or not? Okay, thank you, thank you, Boyd, that’s all.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Thank you. Dr. Huntsinger, you should get a gold star for Tim stimulating a lot of controversy — debate..

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: I want to begin by acknowledging Linda Kalof who led the drafting of this chapter and a few of us helped her with it and of courts the committee reviewed and revised. But she did the lion’s share of the work. So this is chapter 8, social considerations in managing free ranging wild horses and burros.

I’m going to begin by talking about the charge or the objectives that we were given. I’m going to discuss some of the tools that are available for public participation. And I do want to in follow-up to what Ed said last time mention that the BLM is actively pursuing some of these and has some of these tools. And we’re hoping to see them, use them and apply them across the board. I’ll talk a little bit about the setting and then I’ll conclude when I talk about again, apparently.

So really what we were asked to do is come up with ways to address divergent and conflicting perspectives. And I have to start by saying just because of the way that land management agencies and their relationship with the public is structured over time, there’s no magic solution to all of this. We’re still — or silver bullet to finally getting everybody to agree on everything that’s pretty unlikely.

But how we address these divergent and conflicting perspectives on wild horses. How do we consider stakeholder concerns in our decisions? How do we protect land and Han mall health and how do we do all — animal health and how do we do all this with constraints. The last set of context in the last presentation were about some of the constraints that the BLM has. Including the complex legislative environment. Well, we have been — there has been an earthing of the BLM land management agencies to support more social science research for 30 years.

1982 NRC report on wild horses and burros also made a plea that we really need to — since opinions are divergent we need to know more about people’s values and opinions and ideas about wild horses, what’s important to them, where there’s opportunities for people to find common ground, and where things simply have to accept that there’s a difference and use science and other tools to resolve differences. The NRC did a 2008 report on participatory management which is excellent and we’re going to come down thinking this is a great report and that it should be used more broadly just like the AIM monitoring strategies. We do need diversity. We talked a lot about consistency here. You need both consistency and diversity in approaching ecological and social problems. Each situation is unique so you need flexibility for the local setting. So you need your decision making formats and par pa torey opportunities to fit the local conditions. but you need to balance that with being more consistent across BLM.

Transparency. We’ve heard about this so many times. Transparency, transparency transparency. Stakeholders really want to know how decisions are arrived at. We really think transparency is a very important tool, well acknowledged in the literature and sometimes people don’t want to be transparent because they don’t have faith in their — what they’re doing. They’re not sure they’re using good techniques or understand the techniques they’re using. We really need to work on this from all levels. Not just a case of people hiding things, it’s a case of people being unsure and not wanting to admit it. We need to communicate scientific and management methods. The reason beyond certain decisions and why they do certain things need to be clear.

The agency itself needs to really make a commitment to the — and there are signs that we’re moving in that — that the things are moving in that direction. But that also includes not just time and funding to work with the public and take the time to work with the public. But also training for BLM personnel. You don’t just go out and say hey, let’s be friends. You need good training for people and that’s going to take time and money as well unfortunately. But that’s the really important part of the piece of working with the public.

A better understanding of the knowledge and values that frame public opinion about free ranging horses and burros would give managers insight and possibly help them find ways to bring polarized groups into the process. I think we know we have polarized viewpoints about wild horses and burros. So some of the things that we heard as a committee just to highlight some of the differences. One thing we need to understand that horses in a U.S. survey is that they’re the second most popular animal in the public. The only one more popular is the dog. People love horses. That’s an important thing to understand. And that frames one very important perspective that we heard a lot about. That horses are loved. They deserve more resources and land from BLM an loved for all sorts of reasons.

Another thing we hear as horses should be managed like protected wildlife. One thing we discovered in the AML chapter is difficulties in that. Another view would be oh, horses, they’re unproductive animals, they compete with land and agriculture and wildlife. Compete for land for agriculture and wildlife. But they’re unproductive animals.

And second related view might be that they need to be managed like livestock, that we should manage horses like livestock and that’s not an uncommon view mock some groups. Livestock can be taken on and off the range when there’s a drought. And we should manage horse that’s way and a complex of things that goes with that.

And then there’s another view. Horsees are a heritage thingment and they should be managed for tourism or history. Also another view. People want to see them. That will satisfy diverse public views.

Not sure, we need more research on how to resolve these kinds of things.

The goals of public participation in general are not just to reduce conflicts. Often from the agency perspective, the goal is to have less lawsuits. There is evidence that having effect I or working participation or involvement by stakeholders in the public can reduce conflicts and can help build shared understanding and consensus. One of the most compelling studies I satisfied by (indiscernible) and they’re not talking about resources, they’re talking about teams that have to work together to solve problems and they say that works best when people talk enough and share enough to develop some of the same language, the same norms.

Well we all want to achieve this. We need to work out how to do it. We all value horses maybe in different ways. But how do we bring that closer together. I find that — I find that underlies a lot of techniques that we cover in the chapter. There’s all kinds of knowledge besides scientific knowledge. Scientific knowledge is obviously very important. But we also have people values and some decisions have to include those values and draw on those values. Wife seen that today and sometimes local traditional or indigenous knowledge or experience can really make a decision better and really add to a decision.

And then it’s really important to understand norms and values and what kind of decisions are going to be socially sustainable over the long run and are going to work we’ve seen things fall apart. Stakeholders can be a very rich source of volunteers and people who want to learn and I think the BLM has begun to explore that with some of their volunteer programs. We don’t want to forget that that’s really the goal is to make better — more sustainable decisions. There’s a public participation continuum that I’ve seen and I’ve copied it up here that talks about the different ways that we can involve the public. And it goes from simply informing people and saying this is the way it’s going to be all the way to sharing the decision saying you and me we’re going to work together and somehow we’re going to vote or we’re going to it share this decision on the collaborative end.

The NEPA process is there in the middle under consultation, you consult and you listen to the public you don’t necessarily plan on working with people to reach agreement but as an agency you take the responsibility of listening and considering. Legal scholars will act that it’s possible to Congress and abdicate that responsibility. It can’t be taken away to Congressional oversight in the end.

So BLM Forest Service other land management agencies are really there in the consultation and involvement into the spectrum. And that is something that all the studies that I’ve seen make it clear this is what we can do and this is what we can’t do. This is an important thing to cover. I don’t things in involvement that the BLM can’t do and there’s some things the BLM is already doing. NEPA, resource advisory council, you guys, land use planning process really emphasized consultation. And to some degree involvement.

The land use planning process has a pretty good description of what involvement should be. Stakeholders will be involved well before the planning process is officially initiated rather than only at specific points stipulated by regulation and policy like NEPA. They’ll be inclusiveness. Accountability, full disclosure of agency responsibilities and the role of the participants. Part of transparency, right?

Recognition of the limitations of the process. What can and can’t be done. Really important that everybody understand that. And, of course, I’ll say it again. Stakeholders are really concerned with transparency and we saw that in the area of AML and allocations of forage. And population. So here’s some schools we reviewed and chapter.

One is appreciative inquiry. Each of them has something to offer. Each of them has something to offer and I’m going to build toward analytic deliberation which is what we come down to recommending in the chapter, but I’ll take you through a couple methods because they each have something to offer. One is appreciative inquiry, structured decision making, parties torey adaptive management. We talked about it more than once. How do we make that involving and participatory.

Analytic deliberation and citizen science. What’s unique appreciative inquiry is you reframe the problem or question to build on the strengths and reduce attention between polarized use. You talk about how people do have the capacity to make changes and to transform the situation and he you start with putting — looking at what’s working with the system. So we could sit down here and just to say and say what’s really going well and the wild horse and burro program. Isn’t it remarkable we can manage range land to produce food and wildlife and wild horses? Pretty remarkable. We can protect endangered species. We can do all these things. So starting from that positive perspective I think is a good way to begin talking about what needs to be fixed and improved. I like that aspect of appreciative inquiry.

What kind of programs are already under way that are working and can be shared. That kind of thing. Sets a good tone for working together. And again, my other point, I think it helps us understand the experience of others. We may be talking about what people think is right is a good way to understand what people value and think is important. Rather than setting people up on a defensive talking about what’s wrong.

Structured decision making is a methodical formulaic way to look at problems. And what it really offers — it does talk about the integration of technical analysis or we could say scientific information with value-based deliberations. A lot of decisions ultimately have to be both. They have to draw on science, but they have to draw on our values. And allocation of resources is one of those. I think it’s pretty clear. Some of its drawbacks are it’s lake and not as flexible as adaptive management. Not adds well adjusted for some of the problems we see on that sense where adaptive management would be a good idea. But it does offer these action reflection action loops for social learning. And social learning basically means learning together. If you share the process, then you learn together. They have their own loop, like this.

So you figure out what’s the decision that needs to be made. You define objectives and how you’re going to know when you’ve met them. You’re going to develop alternatives. You’re going to estimate or predict what the consequences might be. You’re going to select one alternative. You’re going to try it out and if it doesn’t work, you’re going to do it again. And iterate so the circle goes around and around. We’ll see this kind of circle again. But by working together through this whole process, the idea is people share learning and come to a shared understanding and some shared norms and values. And indeed, studies of this process fond that focusing on values, discussing values, led to more thoughtful discussions during the process. And better informed decisions ultimately. Again, I already said this.

Get back to those shared values, developing some shared values. Shared goals. If we combine that with experimentation and research in the form of adaptive management. We’ve gone over this a couple times but it’s a circle just like the structured decision making circle. We learn by experimentation ideally. Sometimes we talk about passive adaptive management where we’re using observations because experiments are not possible or out of reach. And it’s especially appropriate whennen certainty is high. And that can be — uncertainty is high. And that can be due to weather, too, not just the lack of knowledge. And ultimately the goal is to develop a model of how the system works.

Now participatory adaptive management suggestion that stakeholders should participate all the way through from the beginning when you set the goals and objectives, transparently the idea is to do that social learning and develop a common understanding of the system and how it works. All the way through. How does they volumegy work?

And then some-ecology work and some examples of what you might do and I think Mike mentioned a couple of these is look at the impacts of different herd levels. How can we better monitor population levels. All those are amenable to this kind of approach.

And adaptive management has the same circle, only it includes study, modeling and refining our understanding of the ecosystem. So you’ve assessed the problem. Design the project. You implement it, you monitor it. Evaluate the out comes. You adjust them and assess the problem and in a participatory program you involve the public all the way along.

Finally, we come to analytic deliberation which I think really puts all these pieces not a nice way. Which is the topic of the 2008 NRC report. The National Research Council has recommended some form of analytic deliberation and participatory processes since 1996 and the goal is public deliberation and scientific analysis and you coordinate this to be mutually informing. And I think that circle illustrates a way to make the process of management mutually informing. They say you need face-to-face engagement over time and there’s a scale problem there that you can see, right? At the local level that’s more fees than at the national level of course. So there’s a challenge.

And again iterative interactions. Going through these cycles. Public, the agency, and they recommend social science practitioners. And that’s why I get into the area of training. We need people in the agency who know how to do this. Now, the interesting thing about analytic deliberation is that the participatory process itself and its development and the methods and how it works are developed with stakeholders the agency doesn’t dream up this whole thing by itself. It brings in the public and stakeholders to help develop what’s going to be this process, what kind of engagements are we going to ask for? It’s going to start with identifying the problem.

You need to identify the challenges, they call that diagnosis, you need to design tools and techniques for participation together. You need to investigate where there’s agreement and where there are differences. And how important the differences are or the agreements. And then continually evaluate an adjustable process. So you can see there’s things — all these things have things that are very much in common.

This is a long slide of all the different aspects of analytics. Deliberation. But the goal is to lead the discussion. People have good information to use. They respect each other, they can talk. They know what assumptions they’re operating under. They know to get back to earlier what the limitations and opportunities of the process is and they’re considering both technical and social aspects in their deliberations.

NRC report for 2008 has its own diagram. That shows the factors and how they might relate to each other, they talk about best practice for public participation, this is worth using as a starting point to talk about what should be done in an area. In the NRC report they highlight four principles to make it work. Involve all perspectives, begin early, promote discussion and build support. But they say consensus is not essential. Really, building a body of acceptable solution is what you’re after but you can’t always get everybody to agree and they recognize that. It means clarity of purpose and commitment to participation, provision of adequate funding and staff. A commitment to self-assess to look at how things worked and how they didn’t. That’s hard and painful sometimes and learning from that self-assessment and the stakeholders and scientists can be very helpful in self-assessment.

And then planning activities to engage the public with the public. So our summary sentence which I believe caved mentioned is that agencies, practitioners and the public participants work together to address the diagnostic questions developed to assess the situation and then follow the most suitable regime for the particular situation. So this is something where you do have to have flexibility for the particular situation. We did want to mention the last thing which I think is important and BLM is already seeing and taken advantage of some opportunities here in citizen science. It’s becoming a new thing. There was a whole issue of it recently in a journal whose name slips my mind at the moment. But the idea is that doing research and monitoring together helps build those relationships. So involve the public directly and doing research when it’s possible helps build a shared understanding of the system.

Interactive Web sites: I talked about scale, interactive Web sites are a way to bring broader audience in. And I’m going to show you examples of that. I’m involved in a study where we’re using interactive Web site and it’s amazing we’re doing it in a small study area in California but we’ve got people as far away as Hawaii and New York participating.

Volunteer programs. We have some for adoption and vaccination and so on. GIS and mapping opportunities I’ll show you that in a minute. One example that I liked in the chapter is about scout programs in Africa to monitor zebra where people went out and monitor and counted zebra and reported that back. Given all the problems we’re having with — with agreeing on numbers and monitoring these kinds of things it might be worth really investigating. So we recommend that we engage the public in a way that allows the input to have an flounce on decisions.

To develop an iterative process between public deliberation and scientific discovery. Could design participatory processes with representatives of the public. Support research to capture tradeoffs in public concerns and to improve understanding of public perceptions, values and preciouses, and to use adaptive management when it’s appropriate for testing policies and practices and I added training. I was just reminded how important that is we often included you should use analytic deliberation, engage the public in things they care about. What’s important. Those are the things you want to use the public’s time for, things they think are important.

Continue and develop volunteer programs. Make it easier to see the horses, one idea that was floated is having webcams in some areas. Citizen science networks like the Audubon’s Christmas bird count where citizens can do various things on a broader scale so perhaps really convening a forum or something to decide whether horses are native or nonnative, what that means or whether it matters in terms of the framework for managing the transparency rationale for allocation.

Now I’m going tock that about a public interactive updated Web site and I understand there’s some efforts in that direction right now but I’ll illustrate a couple options. We have a participatory adaptive management for particularly timely issue. Of fire hard management and forest and controlling fuels and on this Web site we share the research of the groups that are involved mostly from the University of California. We have a group working on an endangered species and of course health and water and owls and the impact of different levels of fuel management on those species and things. And then we have places for the public to contribute to ask questions and to discuss. And also to find out what the latest information is. And that’s been a useful Web site. It doesn’t replace direct interactions, it does allow more people to learn. And to participate.

As part of this process, we have collaboration management workshops where we train personnel and others, NGOs, anybody who wants to be trained in how to work with the public in developing collaborative or participatory management. The people who have gone tho them have found them to be great. It’s been really hard for them to get the time from the agency to do this. That’s when I’m talking about training. We should encourage our people, agency pel should be encouraged to get this kind of training because they’re working on such controversial things.

This is another Web site where the public can contribute observations of thick oak information like that needs verification. So on this map you put in a dot where you see sudden oak death and then it’s one color. That means observation. The more people that observe it expert panellologist goes and verifies color change again. So it includes not only an opportunity to participate but a system for verifying and putting a rating on how reliable the information turned out to be. So there’s very interesting observations out there. Yeah.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Any questions from the board? We want to get you out of the way.

>> ROBERT BRAY: Just a comment from my professorial days but one of the messages from students in equine sciences is horses don’t have a position. They’re sources of entertainment, companionship but they’re dependent on agriculture and that.them in a unique position within how modern society and how we view animals.

And thus, it helps you understand why there’s so much emotion, sometimes combative that exists in the professional and public lives that we have. And my encouragement is that with all the parties involved, stakeholders whether professionals or have an interest on one side or the other be respectful and embrace the differences each has. And learn from this setting here, this is a time for sharing information, time of respecting that information that’s being shared and there may be differences. There may be difference of opinion and how that’s presented. But that’s up to the individual person to take that information and use it to best formulate their own opinions. That’s part of the healthy debate we’re going to have over the next few days. So thank you.

>> Thank you.

>> TIM HARVEY: I really support a lot of things you put up there as far as public participation. I’ve spoken to this in the past and one of the proposals I put down actually about three or four years ago, I presented a proposals to the BLM, they were trying to find legal ways to get participation because of some of the laws that they’re restricted by about public access and meetings. It makes it — sometimes it makes them difficult to get participation from the public because of that.

One of the recommendations BLM developed is to look for areas to repopulate some of the zeroed out areas. Part of the proposal when I put that to the was to have a — like a roundtable board of citizens, advocates to participate in that process. And it was the difficulty with that is because of some of the laws that the BLM is restricted by as far as you know, public meeting laws, and stuff like that, it makes it difficult. So that is something that — perhaps Dean could talk to that because he — you know, he was trying to figure out a way we could do some of this stuff a couple years ago.

But the importance of developing a positive common goal, I think, is really, really important. I’m really glad to see that that was stressed. Also what Robert said about doing interacting in a manner that’s not combative, you know, it’s really hard for the BLM — I’ve just found just about everybody I met in the BLM cares about these horses. And they’re painted in a broad brush that they don’t care.

And so what happens, I’ve used this analogy before and some people are probably sick of hearing it. But it’s really hard for the BLM to invite people into the kitchen to have a cup of coffee and let’s talk about this problem when they’re sitting in the front yard throwing rocks through the window. And so what I’m — so one of the things I asked people to do is there’s a lot about what Robert spoke of. You can have a difference of opinion but, if you act civil, even if you don’t feel civil inside, eventually you feel civil towards the other person and realize there is commonality.

I think that engaging the public in some real activity and determination on how these horses are being handled will go a huge way to get rid of the lawsuit activity. I think the transparency issue — and I don’t know that the transparency or lack of transparency is as some people feel is a deliberate thing as much as it’s just I think some of it is a result of the fractional makeup of the BLM’s command chain. So you know, I think that you guys have experienced that and trying to get information to your report. I don’t know that I would label that as intentional which does happen. I think a lot of it is just because of the fractional nature of the organization. Anyway, I really applaud.

>> I agree, it’s symptomatic some things that need to be worked on?

>> TIM HARVEY: I’m not using it as an excuse, it’s something that needs to be fixed.

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: I don’t think it was intentional. The first thing you said, I’m not a legal or policy expert. But one thing we’ve done is some of the participatory effort to a third party like cooperative extension because there are real roadblocks to having free and open discussion.

>> JULIE GLEASON: You talked about the training and I know there would be a lot of internal but do you think they should look to external sources for training more often in BLM.

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: Well, I haven’t reviewed what BLM is doing internally. But I don’t think you can have too much. I especially given the contentiousness of the issue and maybe having an outside group come in and do training, people doing this training are the university cooperative extension which I think exists in most wild horse states. There may be some other options for having an independent third party do some of the training and some participatory work. And I don’t think it has to be an expensive firm or something like that. There may be other resources available and other states.

>> CALLIE HENDRICKSON: When you’re talking about collaborativest and how far that is on scale, I like the idea of extension not that they don’t have anything else to do. But they are very good about the collaborative process and so forth. So that might be something that we could recommend as really engaging without the third party.

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: We were able to get them.

>> CALLIE HENDRICKSON: I don’t know that you have addressed this but I’ve had conversations recently with folks, when we talk about being so polarized, what’s the underlying issue there? I don’t ever claim to have an original thought. But the idea some people look at the horse situation as each individual horse, okay?  Every horse needs to be treated the same as the other one. Or my dog or something like that. While other people look at a system basis. So they’re looking at over all good of not just the horses but — and but something has to give. Is there research out there that talks about how you bring those two concepts together? It reminded me of a paper I love about Tinsleys for example. And how on the one hand you have people who do care about each individual animal and they have names and all that.

They were comparing anthropologists or scientists or ecological scientists who saw the elephants as a population and what would keep the population healthy and what would unable them to exist sustainably with their environment was more of a concern for one group and the other group was each elephant needs to be protected and survive because there are who they are.

One of the things done is demonstration science, in other words, illustrating for people with experimentation what was happening with the elephant and the environment. So people could go ow and see you have too many elephants and you have trees and all these changes happening. Apart from the specifics I think it goes to sharing the science and helping people to learn together and see what will work out best both sides want the horses to be healthy. Both sides want there to be horses in the future.

So studying that together and learning that together is a real clue for how to bring people together. I think there’s also an expectation that not everybody is going to agree. But, if you can get the majority who have learned together and seen it and understand the rationale, I think that’s what you have to work towar

>> Can I answer that?

>> ROBERT BRAY: I want #-D to answer that because I have answer that. I did tracking and we would take groups of people on those trips as educational but we also conducted research. We conducted research in the eastern Sierras relative to high altitude effect on horses and with the wild horses in the Montgomery wild horse we did work with (saying name) at the same time they were doing work and the participatory aspect on the study con didn’ted and experimental process and they actually helped in collecting data monitored by faculty there on the trip as well as grad students provided them such an enlightening aspect of the importance and they became stakeholders and understanding the issues that surrounded this example with the wild horses. So perhaps an important aspect that we need to consider with those studies that the BLM does fund research of outside stakeholders, so these type of activities can be very useful. Good point to make.

>> One. Issues here is how much connection people have in the land. People raised in the environment most of them have a better connection to the land. And unfortunately, we have lots of animal shows (Jim) and animal chose I think people need to see the whole story. And interaction between animals like we talk about with elephant and the — how you have to balance the needs of different animals. I think it’s really importantched. I’d like to see more of this done on national TV. My father was a hunter and fisherman and aware of what was going on in the land and from the beginning I was in touch with it and it’s unfortunate that many people really can’t see what’s going on out there. It’s just very difficult. But I’m glad you’re here today to talk about it.

>> CALLIE HENDRICKSON: I think one of the biggest challenges we have at this point is trust. You know, there’s individuals at BLM that — many individuals don’t trust BLM. Individuals in the audience and individuals on the — don’t trust the board and that keened of thing. And I guess how do we get beyond — if I say something in particular, there are people who are not going to believe it just because it came from me. No matter how much science I got, no matter how much whatever I have, and vice versa. So how do we get beyond that?

**Lynn Huntsinger almost well the research showing that people working to the to solve a problem tend to be more trusting of each other, I’ve also heard trust but verify. We’ll trust if we know what you’re saying is true, which isn’t really trust. But I think it’s about having confidence that good information is being used and that people have best interests at heart. That’s shared values. So trying to help people understand your values and what parts overlap with theirs and things like that really do contribute to trust. As well as learning together.

Polarization, I think you hit the nail on the head of what polarization is all about. It means what the other side said, I don’t trust it, period. And there’s been studies that have shown that simply push more information on to people doesn’t help resolve polarization. What resolves polarization is mutual understanding of where the other person is coming from, what their values are and feeling like you have things in common with that person.

So to certain groups of people, I can say all I want, but they might make their instrument on whether I’m trustworthy based on what I’m wearing or what I look like because they want to see that I have something in common with them. So that’s confusing, I know, but it all gets back to that shared feeling that you both have the best interests of the horses or of the system at heart. That is the key. There’s been really interesting research. It would be good to do more research in that area.

>> Jim Stephenson: Other aspect of this is educating legislators. It’s difficult to get the budget you need when the legislators don’t understand the problem. I’ve tried to do this myself some. To show them what is happening and get them to believe there is a real need for action?

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: I can safely say that’s beyond the scope of the report but I recognize the problem.


>> JOAN GUILFOYLE: There’s so many things I can ask you because this is my area. I was involved in the training Fish and Wildlife did in the Midwest. So when I first came to the agency I was very interested in what are the human dimensions we’ve looked into for the wild horse program and I’ll tell you a couple research committee meetings I first went to when I brought this up, people were interested in the hard science, population growth suppression on the range. And I said we need to understand what the public feels, believes, values, per per exemptions, actions behaviors, not just the ones we hear from but a lot the American public.

A lot of American public in the Midwest and east don’t understand they do have some connection to this issue in the west. And that’s important, I think in urbanization has a lot to do with it. People are more disconnected from the land which is a problem for us because they don’t understand what’s going on out there. So I wanted to share a couple things about this chapter.

I was happy about this chapter being in the report at all. We have already started to do some things as we do always, we don’t wait for final reports to come out. We start doing good things, hopefully. We did do a shade workshop in Reno about a month ago now that we designed particularly to be more public involvement oriented versus the kind things which happens at these meetings, everybody gets two minutes, three minutes, stand up, sit down and there’s no engagement or conversation. Our facilitator did the best job she could do create that and people were used to I’m going toic ma a statement and I don’t want to have a conversation with you.

But we did get feedback which said thank you for doing it differently. Let’s try to have more conversations and discussions and I think that was a good outcome from that workshop which I’ll share with the board for what you don’t know already about what we’re doing about that.

Also, last Thursday we asked for — asked the NAS folks to come meet with a group of stakeholders which involves some of the NGOs in this room as well as fed land management agencies and USGS engaged in a conversation. I’m hoping the NAS report can help stem late conversations and find the common ground that we’ve been talking about needing because if there’s a lot of interest, let’s take advantage of that. Let’s have these conversatio

>> I need to ask you public involvement on a local scale that people know how to do that. This is a national program. This involves people all over the country and I said Midwest and east a lot of people don’t really know, they’re disengaged, not informed or misinformed because they may not have done their own research, investigation, clarification. What suggestions do you really have to do this on a national scale? Because that’s what we’re talking about.

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: I recognize the problem and pondered it and haven’t solved it. That’s one of the reasons I started out saying there’s no magic solution. I think it’s one of the reasons why the BLM does have the ultimate decision making responsibility. You have the source of all this, you know, the land, you can talk to local people and people who are engaged with the land and with the decisions. You can give weight to different things needed to make the best decision that you can. And you do have to makuta decision.

So I think that’s one of the reasons because because there are some people that yes, there’s money going towards this program that unfortunately they don’t know that and remember we don’t know much about that. It’s hard for them to participate in what I described as a competent deliverable rattive process but we do want to keep their best process in mind. That’s their job. That’s one of the reasons I stuck the stuff on the end about the Web site. That does reach more people. It’s not competent, deliberative, iterative discussion but it does reach more people and help them if they want to and if it’s important to them and we know sometimes it’s not.

But for whom it is important, it’s one way to keep up to date to learn, if you can present the research in a way that people can learn about it and learn from it, maybe contribute to a forum for one of the questions we should be addressing, how should we engage you. That analytic deliberation aspect of the last — the stakeholders how they can be involved. I think you can involve the people that want to be involved. But there’s a goal of reaching everybody and having them both — not appropriate. But — those some ideas and I appreciate it.

>> Thank you, to the point Kelly made about trust. We deal with that every single day. Every single day and every single employee (Joan) in the program has that as a challenge evening when we talk about transparency and us putting the best information we have out there on the web two things can — well many things can happen. But we know some thing happens.

People don’t believe us, as Callie said because they don’t want to. And people — I’m told don’t even really want to go to the BLM Web site to get information because they don’t believe us so how do you deal with people. I hope this isn’t the majority but I think there are groups who just are kind of stuck there where — and how do we reach out to people like that who seem as though it isn’t — there isn’t much movement possible on that? One goal of a broader process that you asked about earlier is to bring more people in as far as hardened sios. Groups that made up their mind and aren’t going to participate or listen.

Another solution which is not in the report so I can’t claim this is a report suggestion that I can’t even claim is science-based solution but it’s one we’re studying right now is you know, involving very overtly a third party either in the participation or in the research. So with this adaptive management project that we’re doing right now, the university researchers interact directly with the public and provide research results both to the agency which happens to be the Forest Service and the public. And that has helped some people who very hard positions, they’re interested.

They’re more will to participate because there’s a group they perceive as independent and I don’t know how that’s going to work out. We’re in the middle of it. It’s clunky and difficult and I’m not sure it will work everywhere. But exploring those kind of possibilities where it’s really, really — when it’s possible to put that much resources towards it. Maybe that will he

>> JOAN GUILFOYLE: Just a couple things, I want to ask Debbie to come up. We have socio economics folks from other divisions in the BLM who have been active in helping us look at this. So we’ve been drawing on resources within the agency to help us out Debbie?

>> Debbie: Just one, you already clarified one. I want to make sure you were aware we have social socioeconomic collaborative practices have been engaged from day one. I grabbed them as soon as I could. Relearned a lot and appreciated their participation. Because of that one of our questions was since your presentation didn’t go into that socioeconomic session if there’s anything you wanted to elaborate on that wasn’t already listed in the report.

>> LYNN HUNTSINGER: The main thing I had was really supporting training. We were not asked to look at any economic information or any economic parameters throughout this course (off mic) so — and then I just — I would probably say gee, it would be nice of course if we could have more research. I do recognize — thanks.

>> Debbie Collins: One more follow-up since you did the research. I know you had talked about different levels. If you had just a little bit of money, this is what you can do on the value side and here’s what we called a Cadillac version. In regards to that, would you consider needing to do that on a national scope or just again because of limited funding do you see some value being able to narrow it down and still get kind of a national input I think you need approaches to different scales. I don’t know how to answer that. But that’s how I mentioned the Web site is good. Very large scale but not the same as working intensively with the people would are most influenced by the decision. Different kind of engagement thing.

>> Thank you very much. That’s all, Boyd.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Jump in and be brief.

>> TIM HARVEY: I compelled, the whole subject of what you’re talking about establishing and building trust, that kind of thing, I think one of the elements that the BLM needs to focus on here is incongruity. And what builds distrust is incon between your words and actions and whether that’s real or purr received doesn’t matter. The perception of impropriety or incongruity is just as bad as being improper or being incongruent. The building blocks of trust the first and most important is consistency. Consistency shows that you’re dependable, when you’re dependable, it creates peace of mind in the shareholders and that builds a comfort level that allows trust to exist.

One of the vehicles that might be really valuable and I’m just throwing this out there to the universe is in this whole reevaluation of AML that perhaps some of the stakeholders should be involved in that process of reviewing and really have a proactive role in reviewing how AML is going to be established, looked at, implemented, and everything which seems — is one of the biggest points that the shoulders have a problem with at the BLM. So I don’t know if that’s something you would get to in a recommendation phase later on or if it’s just something to throw out there later on for the BLM to consider. But I think that would be a great vehicle to make a major shift in the perception of the BLM with the shareholders. Or stakeholders rather.

>> JOAN GUILFOYLE: I don’t know if you want to talk about how the public is engaged.

>> Tomorrow morning. Wee have a presenter that’s got to get on a plane. So I think we’ll try to stay on as close as we can. Dr. Huntsinger, we appreciate you coming and both of your presentations have been very informative and I think we need a round of applause.


Next we’ll have a presentation on genetic diversity and free ranging wild horse burro populations from Dr. Lori Eggert University of you’re I in Columbia.

>> So we are obviously just to state the obvious, we are obviously on a different schedule than we had originally planned. So we will go to noon. We will take a lunch break from noon to 1:00 and we will reconve

>> Lori: Can everyone hear me. I appreciate everyone working with my schedule. Unfortunately my students need someone to be there in class tomorrow and I wasn’t able to cover that. So I’m sorry in my message has to be short. What I’ll be talking about is genetic diversity in free ranging horse and bureau population and I’d like to acknowledge the coauthors of the chapter, people who worked hard to put it together. Although this is not quite as controversial a subject adds some of the others, it was a suggest of a lot of discussions. So that would be Dr. David Powell from the wildlife conservation society and Dr. Dan Rubin teen [Dr. Daniel I Rubenstein] from PrincetSo our statement of task has three parts to it.

And the first question was what does information available on Wild Horse and Burro herds genetic diversity indicate that that long herd — long term herd health from both Byron image and genetic perspective.

The second is there an optimal level of genetic diversity within a herd to manage for and if that’s low, what management actions can be taken to achieve that optimal level of genetic diversity. So before I go into some of the nitty-gritty, is there someone it talk for a moment about the importance of genetic diversity of long-term herd health.

We know many HMAs have small herd sizes and those herds are likely to suffer from genetic drift and that’s the loss of rare genetic variants due to chance. That is likely to be much stronger in small populations. And that rare chance and this is to do that not all individuals have the same number of offspring and not all individuals have the same probability that their genes will get into the next-generation and therefore, some of those genes are lost and that’s what I mean by genetic chance.

In small herds that are isolated we not only had genetic drift operating but — it’s inevitable that some individuals will choose at random to mate with more individuals that are more closely related than you would expect by chance. That’s because not all individuals have other horses that are not related to choose as a mate. So in a small herd you have both genetic drift operating and inbreeding operating. And what you see when you have those two factors operating is the potential for reduced survivorship. Increased incidence of congenital defects and long term reduced ability to respond to and survive changes in the environment.

Before I go into the nitty-gritty again I want to define terms so you know what I’m talking about. The first is heterozygosity. You go back and to college and know that’s the proportion of individuals in a population that inherited two different variants of a gene. One from each of their parents. That allelic diversity, I’ll be talking about that’s simply the number of different variants that circulate in a population and the coefficient of ingreeding for the Fis value is the population that individuals in a population share these alleles that are derived from a common ancestor.

And you can think of that as being a way of measuring and count an individual parents who is related to each other, if they’re closely related they’re both likely to have alleles that come from a common ancestor and therefore, the individual then will have two copies both of which came from a common ancestor. This is the council study that was done in the 1980s but we on the committee focused on the most recent study and these have been conducted in 2000 by the University of condition tucky and most ricely den Kentucky and most leastly Texas A&M. The charge for horses was to monitor genetic diversity and assess the abscessbility herd lineages to Spanish blood.

He looked at his studies using 12 highly variable loci microsatellite. This is the cutting edge standard. That will be changing in the future but at this time he sees them as being appropriate cools (gust cothran) the burro studies he’s done are not concerned with lip Yanks, just monitoring genetic diversity and he uses for those 9 of the 12 microsatellite loci that he uses fors.

Sort first question I want to address today is the sented one in the charge and that is there an optimal level of genetic diversity in a managed herd or population? And to do that, to address that, we went to the primary literature and found a number of studies most recent of which was done by garner et al in 2005. And what they did was to look at 108 mammal species that included both healthy and demographically challenged populations and they looked at the genetic diversity level.

What do I mean by demographically challenged? What I mean are those experience severe population di Klein. Experience bottleneck or severe population decline followed by recovery. They experienced isolation, meaning inbreeding has become a problem and they experienced reductions in range meaning that those populations have been compressed into smaller areas. He found that average heterozygosity was about .7. They found it in healthy populations for those who had not GOP through those challenges was about .715 (low volume) and in challenged populations it was about .525. That is a statistically significant difference.

They were able to demonstrate that there say genetic effect of having these. And that can translate into long-term health for these populations. They also demonstrated differences among taxa. So what that suggested to us on the committee was that we needed to look not only at mammals over all but actually in horse populations. We wept from there to do a study on horse free ranging and domestic population.

Here you list stable island from colonial Spanish horse population on the East Coast. And we found) low volume) we found in the domestic breeds in the U.S. those that have been bred specifically for particular traits you might expect them to have lower genetic diversity. We found that the highest genetic diversity was found in some of the domestic breeds from Canada and Spain as well as in some of the native horse breeds from (indiscernible) area.

So we have here a range that we can look at for comparison. For looking at the horses. What we did was to review reports from Dr. Cothran that were provided to us from a period 2001 when he first began his study to 2012 and those included 102HMAs with sample sizes from 9 to 115. And the detail of all of this is provided in the report in table 5.2. Here I’m just going to talk about the summary of it. So can see that the heterozygosity level we found was that about .716. That’s well within the afters we saw from the lineages of horses that had been studied previously.

The allelic diversity is well within the previous studies and inbreeding coefficient for the FIS value is negative meaning that there isn’t evidence over all but the devil is in the details here, if you look at the right-hand column, you look at the range you will see that some HMAs have very low heterozygosity value and extremely low allelic diversity levels some of which also include translate the high breed coefficient. That .133 is a relatively high inbreeding coefficient.

So the BLM handbook provides guidance on how managers should use this information and what they tell the managers is that the critical risk value is the average heterozygosity less one standard deviation and that currently is .66.  8 of the 102HMAs that we looked are below the critical risk value. They do not put a lit calories being value on allelic diversity. But I can that allelic diversity agrees that the enact allelic diversity is also very important because these are the variants that are available out in the population. The critical risk value would be 4.97 so you can see that some of those HMAs are well below that value. That does take one additional HMA to below the critical risk value and that’s of 2012 as far as we know.

So we do have 9% out of 102 of the HMAs that we reviewed studies for are below that critical risk value and should be prioritized for genetic management. All of those potentially could be at risk in the future. These are studies that are published for them, 5 Spanish donkey breeds and three Sicilian donkey breeds and you can see that that allelic diversity and heterozygosity value are very similar to what we saw in published studies for horses. You have between 6 and 9 alleles per locus and between 5 and .68 or almost 7, .7 for heterozygosity.

So these are published studies and we reviewed them at 12 HMA reports that Cothran between 2002 and 2011. Sample size between 2 and 49. You can see the heterozygosity for HMA is .48 which is much lower than what we see in healthy herds that we see in Spanish and Sicilian herds and allelic diversity is also quite a bit lower at 3.33 it’s well below that 6 to 8 alleles per locus that you would expect to see.

And again the devil is in the details. The range of and the range of allelic diversity for burros is much lower than what you would expect and inbreeding coefficient at .09 is above what you would expect and does indicate that there can be some populations with significant inbreeding going on.

Now, Cothran does not compare his study to the published genetickic diversity estimate. The one we used. He compares those to four domestic herds and he finds heterozygosity is .45. You have four alleles per locus in those herds and the inbreeding coefficient is about .5. So even comparing the burro diversity in the HMAs to the domestic herds shows that these values are low.

You can say there is a problem in bureau herds but not horse herds, what management actions can be taken to achieve the optimal genetic diversity levels. Sometimes coming before Dr. Asa and I have to leave I wanted to talk about birth and fertility control and hopefully he’ll answer questions for me that I won’t be able this afternoon. Please as a board if you have questions, email me or pick up the phone. I’d be happy to talk with you any time about that. And I do apologize for my schedule not being able thanker.

I’ll also talk about the other two management actions we’ve talked about which is individual based genetic management and our recommendation that we consider translocation for genetic restoration where it needs to be applied past so the effects of productivity control have to do with the maintenance of genetic diversity in hours that can be managed in AML using fertility control. And the maintenance of genetic diversity is going to depend not on the census size of the herd but on the genetic size of a heard.

This isn’t a size that you can go out and actually manage. You can’t point at horses and say you’re effective and you’re not. Breeding is equal. So number of males and females that are contributing to the next-generation are equal. Family sizes for all those individuals are equal. All their genes have a chance of getting into the next-generation. And when herd sizes don’t fluctuate strongly between generations. You’re going to reduce breeding sex ratio and rare variance of family size. Especially if you’re not able to carefully control which individuals get contraception and can don’t.

If you have individuals that don’t contribute or individuals that overcontribute. That can be especially important now. This complicates things. What this says is that you have males that are overtrick continuing in a particular generation and then some males that may not be trining continuing at all. It’s complicated. If you go and you couldn’t sent the number of females that you might like to couldn’t sent, then what you might be doing is bringing that sex ratio or that operational sex ratio closer to 1 to 1.

The eye infect is not clear, it’s something that needs to be studied. If you redo the number of males. That may bring that operational sex ratio closer to 1 to 1. So what I’m saying here is that before you implement actions, that are going to affect the genetic diversity of these through fertility control, we need to model these effects. We need to predict them and then we need to test them once be begin to see how this operates in a herd, we need to test these over the next-generation. The best way to do that is to do a modeling approach.

So individual based genetic management has been tried in some herds and what this involves is managing horses as individuals and this allows for the maximum retention of genetic diversity. It involves monitoring the reproductive success of horses and that is relatively simple looking at females because you can see the foal at their side so you know when a female has bred and how many it’s much less straightforward for the mail because you don’t know even if a herd stallion is dominating those females, you do not know if he’s fathering all the offspring.

Mapping and recording pedigree information may involve genetic study so we can get that correct because if we want to do is equalize family sizes, we need to how many offspring a male has had. We will then need to contracept individuals once that reproductive goal we said has been met. So this has been successfully implemented at Assateague island and Shackleford banks but in Assateague island it has taken a very long time to get both the herd size down and to the goal sizes through not taking horses off but simply contracepting and reducing the input if you will of new offspring into the population.

And at Shackleford they both contracept and whenever they go over their goal size, they do continue to take up some young horses for adoption. So simply doing fertility control alone. HMAs for horses can be individually identified consistently tracked so that you know when a female is bred and which offspring it actually is. When that are he productive goal is met, the form of management might not actually work. I honestly cannot tell you how many HMAs that condition could be met in but there are some, I’m told.

Now, the committee agrees that the total population of horses on BLM lands is over 30,000. And that it is divided in to smaller fragmented units. But that the maintenance of genetic diversity over the long-term is going to require population sizes that are larger than any of those HMAs, even the largest ones. What we suggest is managing herd populations on a single population which is actually already being done in some of the complexes. So that’s a good thing. The BLM is already moving in this direction.

We suggest they move further and possibly consider this population as a whole. That this is — the horses on HMAs are all one larger population and this would allow the BLM to maintain genetic diversity while also maintaining the AMLs, some of which will not allow them to maintain genetic diversity within the AML without outside intervention. So this will require consistent monitoring of genetic diversity and — is it not — okay. I worry about it feeding back.

It will require consistent monitoring of genetic diversity and assisted movement of what we call translocations of animals between HMAs to August any of those that are fond to have — augment any of those found to diversity so we provided in the report guidance for genetic restoration and that is criteria for translocations including the number of animals to translocate. The appropriate interval between those translocations if we have to follow up one with another one. The use of genetic criteria for how you would select individuals with translocation. Simply moving an animal into a population will not necessarily improve the genetic diversity of that population if that individual actually came from that population in the first place. Or if it came from one that’s so closely relateed that there is no diversity being brought in.

There are behavioral and social factors to consider and we discuss those in the report. And there are educations for translating horses into herds whose numbers are being controlled by contraception. And that’s a difficult problem. And again, it’s going to require a management population, managing those populations it’s reducing number of females in a population, we have to model those to understand what we expect to happen and find out if it actually does happen once we actually move those horses into the population. Sim simply looking at over all loss of genetic diversity through genetic inbreeding using the oci that we’re using which are called neutral loci those that don’t affect the genetic healthest herd over all. There are concerns then about the expression of genista can cause congenital defects.

And what the committee says is that BLM should be collecting data on abnormal phenotypes during all management actions and consulting with geneticists and equine veterinarians wherever these phenotypic data suggest genetic disorders. We don’t believe at this point that this is something that the BLM is tends to overlook but we’re not able to find any information on these genetic defects and these would include things like blindness or club foot.

And while the genetic information that underpins toes kinds of conditions is not necessarily clear, it is clear that these thins are likely to occur more often in inbred populations and they can be early indicators. These horses may have a genetic problem even without molecular studies and there’s also the complication that the management of some HMAs have concerns about associations of Hispanic blood lines or other morphological traits and this is true in the Serbic mountains or pryor mountains and the ooh out Utah and the herd which have beautiful morph logic traits that are prized by some.

The committee recommendations that the BLM scam he’s herds in greater detail and look at the scam these nerds greater detail and share the information with the public. It’s really possible that the isolation of these herds for these traits that may actually be controlled by single genes while the rest of the genetic constitution of the herd is really not, it’s been mixed so much with blood lines from horses here in the US that those are actually just a few genes in there that managing for those (Cerbat) might be counter bro ductive and might lead to the diversity and long-term health of those herds could be compromised by managing for those.

And a word about burros. I was surprised personally and I believe the committee was surprised by the low level of genetic diversity that we saw in the burro herds. The total population of the burros is only about 5,000. It’s not going to be possible to manage those at the large levels that we have in the horse herds. They’re in fragmented units at this point and actually only one of the 12 genetic studies appears to have been done since 2005. So there was one that was done in 2011. Diversity is low and inbreeding is high in at least some of them.

So committee recommends genetic monitoring and translocation as needed to maintain genetic diversity and it may actually be even more important for burros than for horses.

So the conclusions we came to was that the BLM should continue to monitor genetic diversity as part of routine management of horses and burros, that if genetic diversity is statistically significant between subsequent monitoring, and the operational word there is subsequent monitoring, if the time of management is followed, there will be subsequent reports between these. And you can look at differences in genetics over generations or over relatively short time periods.

And you can monitor the effects of the management actions there. If there’s been a change, that HMA should be priority sized for possibly translocation and genetic management. We should manage some herds and ideally move towards managing as a total population. And the word here we used through here is met a population but that’s a bit of a loaded ecological term so what we’re talking about here is total population as a whole. This is all one species and it can be done biologically.

We suggest BLM conduct phenotypes and consult with geneticists and veterinarians whether the phenotype suggests genetic disorders. We suggest BLM examine the genetic constitutions of the Kiger those with unique morphological traits and kl and share the findings with the public so that informed decisions can be made about the sustainability of those herds. We don’t want to manage them for lineages that may not actually contribute to their long-term herd health and we need to collect more genetic information on burros and act on it if it appears there is a genetic problem with burros. So that’s all I have.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Functionally out in the field you have an animal that has been gathered that has a possibly genetic phenotypic expressed defect. If that individual animal is not a healthy animal, I believe that the existing guidelines allow them to take that animal off at that time. To take them off the range. At that point I would say then if that animal has a low probability of survivorship, I think that animal should be taken off the range. I believe the guidelines already provide for that. If this is a seriously unhealthy animal, I believe that there may be a case euthanasia but that’s according to the guidelines, not according to the committee.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Let’s back up one step in severity of that expression. We have a horse that has, say, a clubbed foot and is functionally moving out there, a mare. Do we propagate that genetic defect by leaving that mare there or not. She’s functioning, traveling, bearing foals that will probably have some of the same expressions. What functionally would you do with that.

>> I would have do — I have to beg off a little bit. This is a little bit outside of his scope of what we’re talking about in the report. But my opinion would be to consult with ec Quine veterinarians on that. I do not believe that the genetic inheritance of club foot is published at this point. So whether or not going to be propagating club foot may or may not be well established. You’re a veterinarian and you can tell me better about that. Boyd Spratling maybe I used the wrong example.

>> Quinus might be a better example.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: What I’m concerned about is if we have this material, how do we use that to make management decisions. That’s the goal here hopefully. What would we do with a genetic defect that is not severe enough to necessarily pull him from the range but how do we deal with that as a potential gene pool within that herd.

>> I would say if the decision is made to keep that mare are mare on the range, that should be a horse prioritized for contraception. That way you’ve taken the chance that horse is going to pass on that gene and you very much minimize it.

>> People dumping horses, we get a lot of that. I’m sure because BLM herds are more isolated, you don’t get as much of that. I’m sure you get some (Jim).

>> Dr. Eggert: I will agree with that. It’s possible we heard a lot of that from input. It is possible that one of the reasons that over the time that the BLM has been managing these that the levels of horses in genetic diversity hasn’t dropped is because of that supplementation but that’s purely speculation.

>> And to burros because a lot of times they get forgotten.

>> Exactly.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Dr. Bray, did you have a comment? Question?

>> ROBERT BRAY: Survival of the species is easiest thing to reproduce. Is genetic diversity strongly correlated, measurements stronglyor correlated to that survival concept.

>> Maybe yes, I’m not exactly sure of your question.

>> ROBERT BRAY: Well there’s natural selection. Horse is club footed and can’t get around, eventually not able to forage or get to water sources. And is going to move on to another place. Part of that is animals survive three missions in life. Eat, sleep and reproduce.

I’m concerned about the translocation because these HMAs are not always the environmental factors in common, there are differences and therefore, the natural selection that has occurred is relative to the environment. So, if you take horses from Suzanneville who are big 15.2, 16 hand horses who I’ve had the pleasure to ride many atimes and you transfer them to some area like — I can’t give an example, I think of the small horses and some the other areas. That’s going to make a huge change. And one of the concerns I’ve always shared again going back to my professorial days when I talk about this going back in classes is that in these roundups and you take horses — what’s the criterion. That horse has got good confirmation horse by domestic standards is not good confirmation relative to what survives in the wilderness, I think that’s been one of the flaws relative to this genetic influence over decades that we’re now beginning to measure but we’re measuring that relative to after cawing horses with what I would consider I’m sure there will be clarification the reality is you’ve got individuals selecting based on their own experiences and not having any special training. I’m trying to understand the concept of translocation is that going to help? I have real concerns of treating them all as one population. It just doesn’t make biological sense to me. Help me to understand.

>> You mentioned incidence of natural selection. Natural selection works when you have populations that reach carrying capacity and you have differential reproduction based on how healthy or how well they can compete in that population. Many of these are being managed at well below what you consider to be carrying capacity, they’re being managed based on AML rather than carrying capacity or K in there. So natural selection doesn’t really have a chance to work unless you have competition between individuals and you don’t see a lot of that. As far as ecological differences that definitely needs to be taken into consideration. I dealt — we in the committee on the genetics part of that dealt with genetic differences and we provided you with a chart it’s a huge incompressible chart. And you can consider that in light of the ecological differences. So, if you look at and you can group them and say — and this would have to be on BLM’s part and it’s well outside the purview of the committee. But, if you were going to choose horses for translocation, you would choose those that were medium genetic distance. And approximately the same ecological type distance. So you might look at habitat types and group them that way. But that’s information that you can use and genetic information is one other set of information. You don’t want to bring in redundant horses but you don’t want to bring in those that are so genetically different. Some of that genetic difference may have to do with ecological differences. So those ecological differences then can translate into local adaptations. Those local adaptations may well be reflected in genetic deliverances. Does that make sense?

>> ROBERT BRAY: More than my statement did.


>> I thought your statement was excellent.

>> I’m concerned with the Celber horses because they’re in my care yeah. Nobody knew there were there until the 80s. And they you are received from the 1800s because it was thought that when the Indians raided the settlements in California, and along the Spanish trail like Robert was saying I’m concerned about translocation and how it would diminish the blood line of those horses. As you stated in your report, that is something that you take into consideration. I just wonder how you expect to accomplish that.

>> Dr. Eggert: We need to look what is the basis of difference on those. You do not at this point have the information to know just how different genetically those horses are and whether or not translocation would be a problem or not. If those horses have been strongly affected by people putting horses into them, which is what I believe one of your other committee members was saying that many of these herds have had input from outside and not just — haven’t just descended in a straight blood line and not just the 1800s as you’re saying, it may be they’re not quite as genetically distinct as it might appear. But this is something that we don’t have the information right now to evaluate. That’s why we believe that further genetic studies would help to clarify that and also help to clarify it for both you and for the public.

>> JUNE SEWING: It seemed to me when they actually first found out that there was — there were not a lot of deformities or anything like that as far as the horses were concerned. And I do know that they did introduce and actually there was a trade from the Pryor mountain horses, a stallion from each one was traded back and forth so I know there has been some other introduction of types of horses.

>> Absolutely. That’s to the genetic health of theered herd. It may compromise in some people’s size the integrity of the ert herd, the cultural integrity. But it may be a good thing for the horses and may have contributed to their survivorship. It’s unknowable.

>> They do have some of the same blood lines. That helps a lot, too.

>> But just, you know, taking any old stallion out of any old herd, putting him in there would eventually you know, diminish the blood lines. That was just a concern I had.

>> I too was in regard to the sulfur herd. They’re really, really unique horses and a couple of them I got registered with sore sis society in Portugal. So there are some blood lines incredibly pure blood lines. And I know (Tim) that BLM looked at establishing the term heritage herds but there was feedback from the citizens that they didn’t want to really focus on that kind of thing. But I think some of these herds I guess in establishing one of my questions I had was establishing some type of SOP for translocation that especially sensitive herds that you mention is the four of them pryors and Celbert lines. Kiger are different than Portuguese. It’s a different blood line and very unique. They’ve got less lumbar vertebrae. They have short short back. Described to someone last night writing one is like riding a cat on roller blades. They’re very handy little horses. What you spoke to about one of the — or somebody said I think Robert talked about taking a horse from twin peaks up there and putting it In Re: Place like that would just be — in a place like that would be crazy. So would you recommend some type of — or beyond the scope or is there some way of recommendation some way of establishing an SOP for translocations that would take into account looking that when you move horses from area to area that you try to pick something on a sim genotype or you know, some — similar genotype or genetically similar enough to not dilute what is there and doesn’t — does that make sense.

>> Absolutely. There ray number of things when you start thinking about translocations and that is only one and it’s an important one. In these particular herds it’s especially important. But even in herds where there isn’t a concern about that, you have to think about whether or not you bring male males or females, hung you bring. There’s a concern we touch on barely in the report but you want to make sure you bring healthy horses that you’re not bringing a local parasite over too, there are lots of concerns and you will aof those need to be considered in translocation. So you bring up some really good points. Those heritage herds if you want to call them that which suds like a good word to me, those herds need to have special considerations outside of traditional translocation.

>> And Boyd, you had — did you — I don’t know if I can word the question properly. When we’re talking about selecting horses for birth control, whatever you want to call it. Of age differences, and you had a — there was like if there’s like when you’re talking about you were talking about one of the things that can really skew things is who’s been selected for population growth suppression measures that can really screw stuff. And one of the things that you’ve talked about a couple times and you have a lot better feel for it is that sometimes the younger ones are better to suppress rather than the older ones but from a genetics standpoint —

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: In conversations that we had with some of the staff at BLM it was brought up that when we are were talking about what we should prioritize if we contracept a group or age group of mares and surgerically you’re going to a spay situation you pick out younger mares for lower risk, all those are being bounced around but they’re talking about older mare had potential for more diverse genetic makeup is the comment made. Is that in fact true.

>> That would be true if you were losing genetic diverse I it such that it was lower in the next-generation. That would definitely be true. However, it might also be true that those females had reproduced several foals and therefore, they’re genetic diversity had already gotten into the next-generation. So, if you assume that you have recombination and you have input, some small input for mutation, the next-generation, if it is not able to get it its genes into the next-generation because the older ones are still reproducing, you can still over all lose genetic diversity. My opinion on what we have tried on Assateague island is to allow each horse to have at least two foals. Once it’s established that they have two surviving foals, thin they’re contracepted. So that would give you an optimal way to do that. Whether or not anything like that could be done in the HMAs, I don’t know. That requires a very high level of involvement with the horses.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: That’s a good debate and discussion in other words.

>> Absolutely.

>> JAMES DALE STEPHENSON: I don’t know if this factors into BLM horses but in the Yakima horse herd we always thought that we should be selecting or releasing horses that had genetic makeup to be adoptable. We had basically size problem, we have no basically almost paint, paints are pretty adoptable. We thought on these lines. I’m not sure BLM would be this or policy but that may be something to think about.

>> Dr. Eggert: We had this discussion over lunge one day with managers of the Chico teaing. They do not contracept. They do depend on adoptability of young. If they don’t look right, they’re not adoptable. But you’re right.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: I was involved with the chink 0 teaing herd and selection is done by size and color. And Stanley white, we used his horses (Tim) to introduce his Arabs, we found that the Arabs were the ones that survived the best, the Arab crosses and they selected there strictly on saleability of being able to sell and the herd still looks okay. That’s when you were talking about — one of the things Robert said about the confirmation of a wild horse versus a domestic horse, some of my mustangs people look at them and say jeez, looks weird. But they get along just fine.

You know? So it’s funny how we think we can fix stuff that works pretty good by Mother Nature’s standards.

>> Sounds like animal husbandry versus wild and free.

>> You’re absolutely right about some of those horses out on the island. That is a really inhospitable atmosphere for horses.

>> TIM HARVEY: We tried putting mustangs out there and they didn’t survive. One year we put four out there and one made it through the first winter and disappeared through the next winter, tough little mustangs, boy, you put them out there in that environment, it’s brutal on horses.

>> It really is. That’s about as extreme as you can get.


>> JOAN GUILFOYLE: I just wanted to see if the cha ter lead on this had any questions or commends. Jared? Okay. And we do have state lead from Arizona who is the strongest voice who remembers burros are part of this program. Did you have anything you wanted to question or say Roger? Okay. Thank you. That’s all.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: Thank you very, Dr. Eggert. We appreciate that conversation.


>> Thank you.

>> DR. BOYD SPRATLING: We’re going to break for lunge lunch and we’ll be back here at 1:15. Thank you. (Lunch break)


3 Responses to “Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting, Sept 10, 2013 Arlington, VA (part 2 of 4 — After the first break in the morning)”

  1. Craig Downer February 27, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    What is the citation of Dr. Daniel I Rubenstein’s studies proving zebras complement ruminant grazers in Africa? Need this urgently!


  2. WestDeltaGirl March 4, 2014 at 11:23 am #


    The BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board has made public all the materials from their meeting in September 2013. It has all the text printed out, the videos and presentations:



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