LOCAL ADVOCATE CALLS ON CALIF. ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PROTECT WILD HORSES

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By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Bureau of Land Management, wild horses, unspecified location

November 18, 2018 (San Diego’s East County) -- Kathleen Hayden of Santa Ysabel, co-founder of  Coyote Canyon Caballos d’Anza, has long fought to restore San Diego county’s heritage herd of wild horses. Now she’s joined a fight to save wild horses in Double Devil Corrals at Alturas, California, where the federal government has authorized a roundup and sale of hundreds of wild horses.

Hayden has penned a letter to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra urging him to enforce California Fish and Wildlife’s mandate to add our state’s wild horse herds to the list of protected native species in order to halt the sale. She cites fossil evidence indicating that California wild horses are descendants of indigenous species.

Below is Hayden’s letter:

 

CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra

Email: xavier.becerra@doj.ca.gov

Tom Frolli, US Forest Service Wild Horse and Burro Program Coordinator

Email: tfrolli@fs.fed.us

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Animal Health and Food Safety Services, Animal Health Branch

Email: ahbfeedback@cdfa.ca.gov

Attorney General Xavier Becerra,

Please take the necessary and imperative immediate action to enforce CA Fish and Wildlife mandate to add CA wild horse herds to their inventory of protected native species to halt the current adoption and sale of wild horses without limitation in the Double Devil Corrals in Alturas, California.

While the horses are in danger of being sold to kill buyers and sent to slaughter, an act that is unlawful in the state of California, the Devil’s Garden “protected” federal managed herd is an extraction of a Native Species under CA ESA definitions of special status species.

Since I requested CA Fish and Wildlife to add CA herds to the inventory of special status species current captures of our Ca native herds continue to reach genetic bottlenecks: a direct path to extinction. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/03/science/horse-skeleton-utah.html

The only effective way to re wild and save CA wild horses is through the CA Endangered species Act (CESA) and the inclusion all of CA wild horse herds to restore Optimum Sustainable Populations.

All gov agencies are subject to the Endangered Species Act, yet they fail to protect the American Public by the extraction of non-excess wild horses and burros from ranges diminished by politically motivated and technically fatally flawed Resource Management Plans.

CA has 45, 864,800 acres of federal lands and 100,206,720 acres of State Land.

 It is a very small portion of the US federal government owned 640 million acres of land and about 28% of the nation's total surface, 2.27 billion acres.

Wild horse/burro populations constitute least of all the wildlife and livestock grazing on the public domain.

While Congress gave wild free-roaming horses "special" status based on their heritage of assisting man settle the "west," CA has its own special claim to distinct Equus

population segments and/or evolutionarily significant units (ESU), first conceptualized by Ryder in 1986, of a population of organisms that is considered distinct for purposes of conservation. Delineating
ESUs is important when considering conservation action. This term can apply to any species, subspecies, geographic race, or population.

An ESU might comprise single/multiple populations exchanging a degree of gene flow, such as meta-populations. Differences between ESU concepts lie more in the criteria used to define the ESUs themselves rather than in their fundamental essence.

Definitions of an ESU generally include at least one of the following criteria:

Current geographic separation,

Genetic differentiation at neutral markers among related ESUs caused by past restriction of gene flow, or

Locally adapted phenotypic traits caused by differences in selection.

Also refer to Feb 9, 2014 - (ACHP) executed the referenced national Programmatic Agreement with CA State Historic Preservation Office.

On Feb. 15, 2017 I wrote to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife 1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814.

Karen Miner Environmental Program Manager Karen.Miner@wildlife.ca.gov

Danile Applebee Recovery Coordinator Daniel.Applebee@wildlife.ca.gov

SWAP@wildlife.ca.gov

Dear EP Manager Karen Miner,

Please review our previous email conversations requesting incorporation of California's rare and endangered Coyote Canyon wild horse herd into the state's data base of special concern mammals.

I am amending the request to include all of CA wild horse herds to ensure Optimum Sustainable Populations. In some cases, herds are far below optimum sustainable populations and have become extinct in the wild. AS such, immediate action by CA Fish and Wildlife is necessary and imperative.

While Congress gave wild free-roaming horses "special" status based on their heritage of assisting man settle the "west," CA has its own special claim to distinct Equus population segments and/or evolutionarily significant units (ESU), first conceptualized by Ryder in 1986, of a population of organisms that is considered distinct for purposes of conservation. Delineating ESUs is important when considering conservation action. This term can apply to any species, subspecies, geographic race, or population.

An ESU might comprise single/multiple populations exchanging a degree of gene flow, such as meta-populations. Differences between ESU concepts lie more in the criteria used to define the ESUs themselves rather than in their fundamental essence.

Definitions of an ESU generally include at least one of the following criteria:

Current geographic separation,

Genetic differentiation at neutral markers among related ESUs caused by past restriction of gene flow, or Locally adapted phenotypic traits caused by differences in selection may be sufficient to list CA herds under the CESA as a native species. The State’s Wildlife Action Plan defines Species of Greatest Conservation Need as native species meeting certain criteria, CA herds are the most eligible for inclusion as a CA Mammal Species of Special Concern to receive protection under the California Endangered Species Act. by designations of ACECs.

In Mar. of 2016, re: fossil evidence Karen Miner Environmental Program Manager Karen.Miner@wildlife.ca.gov stated “ When and if available scientific information convinces the experts that determine the checklist of native species to North America that Equus caballus should be considered as an indigenous species, they will make the change in the next revision to the list, and then we would take that fact into consideration for inclusion on our state animal lists. “

I replied that Equus Caballus may not be the fossil evidence that meets the criteria for the listing consideration. Instead “the experts” may incorporate the following fact into the equation from The Surprising History of America's Wild Horses http://www.livescience.com/9589-surprising-history-america-wild-horses.html (excerpt)

Many scientists once thought horses died out on the continent before the arrival of the ancestors of the American Indians, but archeologists have found equine and human bones together at sites dating back to more than 10,000 years ago. The horse bones had butchering marks, indicating the animals were eaten by people, according to “Horses and Humans: The Evolution of Human-Equine Relationships,” edited by Sandra L. Olsen.

According to Steven Jones PhD, there is no conclusive evidence that the wild horse went extinct in N America (http://thewildhorseconspiracy.org/2013/07/02/exciting-article-about-by-phd-steven-jones-re-more-recent-surviving-native-horse-in-north-america/. and

In southern California, the species was replaced in the later Ice Ages by an anatomically distinct form. “That’s likely either a pulse of evolution – a speciation event – or else the immigration of a different species northwards into California from Mexico,” said Scott. “Either way, we can now clarify the timing and geographic extent of this episode, and the relationships of these two species, in a very exciting way. And it means we had as many as four horse species living in the American southwest at the end of the Ice Ages. Compared to horses today, that’s quite a lot of species! http://www.pe.com/articles/horse-667407-species-springs.html

Perhaps the most recent CA fossil find (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-centuries-old-bones-of-horses-unearthed-in-2005jul17-story.html) is of interest. The finds are significant because native North American horses were thought to have been extinct more than 10,000 years ago, and these remains are older than the recorded conquests by the Spanish, who reintroduced horses to the New World. SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY MUSEUM Published: May 22, 2013 Updated: Jan. 14, 2015

Changing environments and ecosystems were driving the evolution of horses over the past 20 million years. This is the main conclusion of a new study published in Science by a team of paleontologists from Spain and Argentina. The team analyzed 140 species of horses, most of them extinct, synthesizing decades of research on the fossil history of this popular group of mammals.  https://phys.org/news/2017-02-climate-responsible-rapid-expansion-horse.html#jCp

CASE decisions (Mountain States v. Hodel) The court found “ In structure and purpose, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act is nothing more than a land-use regulation enacted by Congress to ensure the survival of a particular species of wildlife noting that wild horses and burros are no less "wild" animals than are the grizzly bears that roam our national parks and forests

As to their special status BLM states "The issue of a wild horse as an invasive species is moot since the 1971 WHBA gave wild free-roaming horses "special" status based on their heritage of assisting man settle the "west" ( May 2003 Proposed Nevada Test and Training Range Resource Management Plan and Final EIS Comment 87, BLM Response, pg. 7

AND, notably, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Ca.  also recognized wild horses as native species, explaining that BLM “establishes Appropriate Management Levels (“AMLs”) for populations of native species - including wild horses, burros, and other wildlife - and introduced animals, such as livestock.” In Defense of Animals, et al. v. U.S. Dept. Interior, et al., No. 12-17804, *6 (9th Cir. May 12, 2014) (emphasis added

On Sep. 28, 2011 (See Craters AR at 16698. Memorandum Decision & Order) The court addresses “sensitive” species pursuant to BLM's 2001 Special Status Species Policy. This Policy requires that “sensitive” species be afforded, at a minimum, the
same protections as candidate species for listing under the ESA. It called on BLM managers to “obtain and use the best available information deemed necessary to evaluate the status of special status species in areas affected by land use plans . . . .” See Policy at § 6840.22A. Under the Policy, those land use plans “shall be sufficiently detailed to identify and resolve significant land use conflicts with special status species without deferring conflict resolution to implementation-level planning.”

Attorney General Xavier Becerra, please take the necessary and imperative.  immediate action to enforce CA Fish and Wildlife mandate to add CA wild horse herds to their inventory of protected native species

Respectfully submitted,

Kathleen Hayden

Co-founder Coyote Canyon Caballos d’Anza

Perspectives from the Field: Wild Horses Are Cultural ...

www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1017/S1466046616000363