Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

CORRECTION:  When this article originally posted, the incorrect information that Kevin Borba owned 330,000 acres was quoted from the Elko Daily Free Press (Thomas Mitchell).  However, according to newly obtained information from the Eureka County Assessor, Kevin Borba owns 1,339.55 acres.  This article has been updated to include this correction. ____________________________________________________

Fish Creek HMA roundup (photo:  Bureau of Land Management)

Fish Creek HMA roundup (photo: Bureau of Land Management)

Rancher Kevin Borba and Eureka County Commissioners filed the appeal with the Interior Board of Land Appeals on Friday, opposing the return of any of the 424 wild horses recently rounded up to the Fish Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) near Eureka, Nevada.

The BLM planned to return 104 mares treated with fertility control (PZP) and 82 studs to the Fish Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) near Eureka on Friday.

New welfare rancher Kevin Borba, is being likened to Cliven Bundy and portrayed as trying to “eke out a living on dry, inhospitable rangeland.”  However, Borba is a 48-year-old cattleman from California, who bought a $1.5 million ranch in Eureka County in 2012.  Borba named his new 1,339.55-acre ranch the Borba Land and Cattle Co.  

A couple of years later, the BLM reduced the number of cattle on his grazing allotments.  The “news” reports that Borba originally grazed 415 head of cattle, but his grazing allotment was reduced to 140 cattle.

Hold your horses.  According to the BLM’s Rangeland Administration System, Borba has 2 grazing allotments in the BLM Ely District on the Little Smoky Valley pasture of the Duckwater Allotment (BLM authorization #2703864).  For one thing, the “reduced” number of 140 cows is a cow-calf pair, which means Borba can graze 280 cattle for 5 months each year (Oct. 15 – March 15) on 100% public lands.

Borba also has an active authorization to graze 1,000 sheep for 5 months of each year (Oct. 30 – March 31) on 100% public lands. But Borba decided that he didn’t want to raise and sell sheep, and also declined to sell his sheep allotment to sheep ranchers when they offered to buy it.

Borba also has 2 grazing allotments (BLM authorization #2703895) on the Antelope Valley pasture of the Fish Creek Ranch Allotment in the BLM Battle Mountain District, where he grazes 506 cattle (in reality, this could be 1,012 cattle if we count cow-calf pairs) for 5 months each year (Nov. 1 – March 31) on 100% public lands.

The 2015 Fish Creek Herd Management Area Wild Horse Gather Plan noted “In 2014, unauthorized livestock were documented grazing consistently for six months outside the permitted use within the Antelope Valley Use Area of the Fish Creek Ranch Allotment.”

Borba’s sense of entitlement was also evident when he told the Associated Press “We (ranchers) have a right to be here and we don’t want them to turn out the horses.

It’s important to focus on the fact that Borba’s authorized grazing allotments are on 100% PUBLIC LAND, not on the 1,339.55 acres he bought.

Why should taxpayers subsidize Borba’s poor business planning with his dependence on grazing his cattle on PUBLIC LANDS instead of his privately owned 1,339.55 acres?  Livestock grazing is a privilege, not a right.

Something else is fishy.  On the BLM’s website page for the Fish Creek HMA, today it states this about the wild horses: “The current population estimate for the HMA is 79 wild horses. Wild horses are known to move between the Fish Creek HMA and Seven Mile HMA, located south of the Fish Creek HMA.”

BUT, “news” reports just claimed the current population of wild horses in the Fish Creek HMA was estimated at 549 wild horses.

The BLM website currently states this about the Seven Mile HMA: “The current population is estimated to be 92 horses. An AML range of 60-100 wild horses has been established for both the USFS Butler Basin Wild Horse Territory and the Seven Mile HMA.”

And yet, in 2014, another source estimated that the 97,479 acre  Seven Mile HMA had an AML of 30-50 wild horses and it was estimated there were 154 wild horses.

This is confusing, isn’t it?  Just like numbers are being pulled out of a hat.

Could some of the 154 (or, 92) wild horses that are part of the Seven Mile HMA have wandered over and been counted as part of the 549 wild horses supposedly on Fish Creek HMA?
Out of the estimated 549 on the Fish Creek HMA, the BLM rounded up 424 (leaving 125), and was going to return about 186 (this is the 104 PZP treated mares and about 82 studs).
Until Kevin Borba and the Eureka County Commissioners threw a big hizzy fit.

But, since 125+186=311, does this mean there are now only about 311 wild horses (with 104 of the mares treated with the fertility control pesticide/”vaccine” PZP) on 2 HMAs, on over 350,292 acres?

While some wild horse advocates claim that 104 mares treated with PZP is “sane” or “fair” management of this wild horse herd, or that the BLM is doing the “right” thing, it seems they should do more research before giving quotes to the media, and before selling out the wild horses.  These groups do NOT speak for all of us.

The BLM continues to manage wild horses to extinction.  Period.