The population numbers he uses- 48,000 wild horses roaming free compared to a maximum sustainable herd size (called Appropriate Management Level) of just 26,000-aren't reliable. These figures are BLM estimates. They are estimates, moreover, that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) sharply criticized as inaccurate in a 398-page, 2013 report ("Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward").
The BLM itself commissioned the NAS report, but Philipps, in failing to mention the study, neglects the NAS finding that BLM roundups increase horse populations (p. 5-6) ; that the BLM underutilizes fertility control (p. 303); and that conducting "business as usual" is unproductive (p. 14).
These omissions are only the tip of an iceberg of confusion. Philipps did not provide Times readers with the relevant context. For example, readers should have known that of the 155 million acres of western rangeland that the BLM oversees for public grazing, 83 percent has no wild horses on it at all-just privately owned cattle and sheep. The remaining 17 percent is designated as wild horse habitat, but horses share it, yet again, with privately owned livestock, which are allocated 77 percent of the forage there, according to Zachary Reichold, BLM senior wild horse and burro specialist.