The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is about to embark on the next step in its devastating plan to wipe out nearly half of Wyoming's remaining wild horse population. The agency is seeking public comments on the proposed roundup of 164 wild horses from the Great Divide Basin Herd Management Area (HMA). The action begins the BLM's plan to eradicate wild horses from ("zero out") this important Wyoming HMA.
Just over two years ago, the BLM captured and removed 1,000 wild horses from Divide Basin. Now the agency is again planning to use our tax dollars for another helicopter roundup that will terrorize and traumatize these animals.
The action is completely unjustified because the HMA is well within the allowable management level (AML) of 415-600 horses set by the BLM itself!
The sole purpose of this roundup is to appease local ranchers who want all wild horses removed from the checkerboard portion of the HMA, an area that comprises nearly half of the HMA.
Let's start 2014 -- Year of the Horse -- right by getting in thousands of public comments urging the BLM to consider alternatives to the proposed action and laying out the specific environmental and social impacts that must be analyzed before this action can begin to go forward. Click Here to Take Action!
Public Comment Deadline: January 10, 2014
Source: The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) whose mission is dedicated to preserving American wild horses and burros in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. AWHPC's mission and grassroots efforts are supported by a broad-based coalition of more than 50 public interest groups, environmentalists, humane organizations and historical societies representing over 10 million supporters. A campaign, as opposed to a stand alone organization, the AWHPC operates under the 501c3 structure of Return to Freedom, which is its parent organization.
America's wild horses and burros have continued to be an issue of intense interest to the American public. The year 2013 was no exception. Issues of range management, slaughter, abuse during roundups and in facilities continued to surface.
The year began with legal actions filed against the BLM roundup at the Owyhee Complex. The suit alleges that wild horses are being illegally removed from the range.
In addition the suit illustrated horses run into barbed wire, babies run to exhaustion and intensive use of an electric cattle prod. On January 10th the court issued strong language against the abuse. Several motions were filed in this case over the course of the year and the suit is expected to go to hearing.
Early in 2013 the Department of Interior (DOI), that umbrellas several agencies including the BLM, saw former Secretary Ken Salazar step down. In 2012 an investigation by Dave Philipps (for ProPublica) uncovered 1700 wild horses sold by the BLM to a single kill buyer that has apparent ties to Salazar. During a press conference Salazar actually threatened journalist Philipps with a "punch in the face" for publicly asking him about the sales of wild horses.
Salazar's replacement Sally Jewell, former REI executive, immediately began to shuffle questions on the program over to the expected National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report. The study had been commissioned nearly two years prior at an estimated cost of 1.5 million dollars. The report was issued in June and gave the program a failing grade pointing to a "lack of data" that supports and decision making. Since the report was issued no reforms in failing policy have surfaced.
The BLM's contentious relationship with the press continued as legal actions carried by the advocacy group Wild Horse Education against press restrictions battled in and out of the courtroom all year. The litigation was joined through Amicus briefs by fifteen news organizations including: The Reporters Committee for a Free Press, NPR, Seattle Times and others. In December the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals placed this case into mandatory mediation for 60 days with a report to be filed with the court if no agreements can be reached in this case that has spanned over three years in the legal system.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse and burro program was under scrutiny as the government shutdown momentarily halted roundups. Networks such as NBC, the Travel Channel and NPR ran major stories on wild horses. Actions by the BLM received hundreds of thousands of comments from a dissatisfied public.
As 2013 drew to a close serious public land management issues are rising that may very well make a bleak picture even more fragile. Sage Grouse management plans are being formulated that could likely impact wild horses and burros in an extremely negative fashion as private livestock interests push to protect government subsidized public land grazing. The Grazing Improvement Act (if passed) will allow livestock producers to skirt environmental review for decades. And the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) organizes legal action supported by the Cattleman's Association against wild horses.
Horse slaughter is standing on the edge of coming back to American soil. Regardless of the simple fact that horse meat is not a safe food source slaughter plants are pushing to process American horses. Many advocates for wild horses have feared for years that a failure to change policy and the continual stockpiling of American horses in government facilities (more than twice the number of wild horses sit in facilities than exist wild on the range) is a sign that wild horses are in direct line for slaughter. Many appointed members of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board are openly in support of horse slaughter.
2014 promises to be an important year for the survival of wild horses and burros on America's public land. The Chinese call 2014 the "year of the horse." It may very well be that the fate of America's symbol of Freedom will be decided this year. Will we reform this program and begin to protect wild horses and burros and the asset they are to our American soul? Or will we turn our back and choose to put money into the pockets of a select few and in a betrayal to the contribution these horses and burros made to not only the building of our country, but our own identity as "strong, intelligent, untamable" Americans?
The group WildHorseEducation.org created a "Year in Review 2013." They wrote a timeline and crated a "year in review video" of their work to protect wild horses and burros.
To read the entire timeline, and to watch the video, Click Here.
Source: The Examiner, by Laura Leigh, founder of Wild Horse Education
"WE NEED the tonic of wildness." -- 42 years ago this week, President Richard M. Nixon invoked these famous words of Henry David Thoreau when signing the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
Noting that he took "special pleasure" in "signing strong legislation to protect these noble animals," the President highlighted that wild horses and burros deserve protection as "an ecological right -- as anyone knows who has ever stood awed at the indomitable spirit and sheer energy of a mustang running free."
Four decades later, the promise of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act remains tragically unfulfilled. In 1971, President Nixon observed that "demands of the market for [horses'] processed products, competition for forage used by domestic livestock" and other commercial forces had pushed wild horses and burros to the brink of extinction.
Velma Johnston, AKA Wild Horse Annie, is largely credited with generating the grassroots advocacy that secured the Act's passage. At the time, she called out the "powerful forces" aligned against wild horses and burros, including the "domestic livestock industry... and the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management -- custodian of the public lands -- which looked upon the commercial harvesting of the animals as an expedient means of range clearance to make more forage potential available to the vested interest groups...."
Four decades later, these vested interests remain aligned against the mustangs. They have turned the law intended to protect these iconic animals on its head, and are the driving force behind the massive roundup and removal of wild horses and burros from our Western public lands.
The result is a corrupt and devastating federal program that today stockpiles more wild horses in captivity than remain free on the range.
If this trajectory continues, few, if any, truly wild, free-roaming horses will exist in the coming decades. Half of all lands designated as wild horse and burro habitat have been eliminated over the past four decades, and administration after administration has allowed the systematic removal and elimination of wild horses and burros from our public lands in the West.
In signing the Act, President Nixon recognized the "outpouring of concern for the preservation of wild horses and burros on our Western ranges." He saluted the "determined young defenders of the wild horse who have helped give impetus to this effort."
Today, we must again reignite that outpouring of public concern as the only way to counter the forces that to continue to threaten the very existence of wild horses and burros in our nation. With 50,000 wild horses stockpiled in holding facilities, and the horse slaughter industry poised to resume in the U.S., the stakes could not be higher.
Take the first step in fighting back by visiting StopTheRoundups.com and adding your name to the growing grassroots movement to Keep Wild Horses Wild.
When people speak, change can happen.
Source: The Huffington Post by Suzanne Roy
Follow Suzanne on Twitter: www.twitter.com/FreeWildHorses