Thursday, February 3, 2011

Erroneous report to defund BLM round-ups?

I will do anything to not do homework, apparently.

 Report to Congress....Request to Defund Roundups

I just scanned through this report to congress to defund the BLM round ups. I did not do an in-depth view of it, but did notice their numbers seemed a little off. How did they come up with a number that is over 10,000 fewer than what the BLM says? If they are relying on counts by Craig Downer, based on his methods, which I couldn't replicate with the amount of information he provided, he could easily have missed horses. 

Other studies to count horses have been done before. The author of Dances with Wolves, Michael Blake, was so sure the BLM was wrong. He and the Public Lands Resource Council, who had little experience with aerial counting of large mammals, decided to do their own count. But they had no idea what they were doing and grossly undercounted the horse population. In his methods, which are supposed to be detailed enough that someone else can replicate the same study, Downer did not mention what airplane he used, but he referred to it as a "two-seater."  Is this a helicopter or fixed wing aircraft?   Fixed wing aircraft lead to inaccurate counts.  He does refer to it as a plane....Downer also did not mention anything about his counting method other than the camera, video recording, and transects.  Double-counting is how the BLM makes sure they can get as accurate a number as they can.

Besides their wacky numbers, which seem as erroneous to me as they state the BLM's numbers are, their sources are not credible. Therefore, when I saw their reference list, I wanted to toss the whole report. They relied on blog posts, internet websites, BLM data off their websites, a few personal communication with the Cloud Foundation (a highly reputable source!) and a conservation zoo place. Oh, and one - I repeat ONE - peer reviewed journal article on genetics. These were the sorts of references they used to support their argument. I saw no interviews with BLM personal. Seems like talking to some of these people who run the program would be a good start to hear from their mouths what the numbers are. Rather, they slunk around on websites to pull their data.

Well, I won't get too much more critical, especially since I haven't been able to do an in-depth look at it. But based on a glance...

Has anyone else seen this and have any thoughts? Do I have it all wrong?


  1. It boggles my mind that so often, I see that these activists' cases are built on things like blog posts and other activist organizations, and not published papers and hard data. Really, blog posts! How can they think that they're building a serious case? Oh, and I thought of something last night when I was ranting and raving about this to my boyfriend. Isn't it interesting how everyone whose stories I've heard and read who understand our perspective on the situation also is a horse lover and raves about how rewarding it's been to adopt and work with mustangs?? Isn't it interesting that they don't dislike horses?? Okay, one more rant and I'll leave your blog alone. Speaking of my boyfriend, he is a vegetarian for ethical reasons, he loves animals enough that he won't eat them. But, he still understands the need for wild horse roundups and adoptions--he's a believer in ecology and range management. Come on, ecology, people!

  2. I have your same rants, Beth! I have a friend who lives in outskirts of DC and she even understands, though she knows nothing of ecology and wildlife management.

  3. What proof do you have that the BLM counts are any more accurate?