Thursday, November 18, 2010

Phone conversation with BLM, 11-18-2010

I just got off the phone with the Burns District Rangeland Management Specialist.  Though I hoped to walk away with one great thesis idea, he gave me several that I hope to settle on over winter break.

The first that he suggested was looking at herd dynamics.  They've (BLM) has received a lot of comment (on the EIS I'm assuming) about the national policy of 60/40 stallions to mares, the use of PZP, and gelding.  It really sounded like this is where they need more research so that they can respond to those comments.  While it sounds like a great thesis topic, I'm not even sure how I would approach this topic in field research, etc.....

Another place where they could use more research is in the herds' distribution.  However, I can incorporate this into any subject of study I choose.  While studying the horses, I could look into their distance to water, roads, and also look at vegetation and slope utilization.  This would help the BLM in knowing where the horses are located.

A place where he said would be really great for research and field work is utilization.  They've received many comments about horses vs. cows.  Who does the most damage?  Because of time constraints, this has been a study that is lacking in field research.  I don't know that I would have the time for this either.

Lastly, we talked about sage grouse habitat.  In my last conversation with my adviser, we had kicked around the thought of how horses might impact sage grouse.  Since they are a declining species (in Washington, there are only two populations left), it would be an interesting topic to see how horses might influence sage grouse.

We also talked about some of the controversy going on.  He introduced me to the name: Craig Downer and that he is a wild horse ecologist, but the paper that he wrote has no scientific backing.  This paper has caused a lot of issues -- at least that's the impression Bill gave me.

I have a lot to think about.  It was a great conversation, though.  It gave me a fresh dose of excitement to start my research.  I am really trying to figure out a way to get down there to Burns, Oregon over winter break.  He said we could talk more, he could show me some of the comments they've received, and take me on a tour to some of the HMAs.  I have the time to do it, that's for sure.  The $$$ aspect of it is the challenge!!  But, it is important I think, and will help me decide what I want my research topic to be centered on.  So, someway, it must happen!

1 comment:

  1. I just have to add that I am so excited to do something that could potentially help the BLM manage the horses!! Part of me wants to do the most difficult one -- cattle and horse utilization. But I'm leaning towards herd dynamics...we'll see!