Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Perfect Time to End the Slaughter of American Horses

Editorial Release

September 1, 2010

The Perfect Time to End the Slaughter of American Horses

At the moment, the news is rife with stories about the level of equine neglect in the United States, with many of the articles blaming the "unintended consequences" of closing the US horse slaughter plants and calling for them to be reopened. But in reality, we are coming up on a once in a lifetime opportunity to get rid of this abominable practice once and for all. To understand this apparent paradox, one needs to get past unsubstantiated myths to the real forces at play in the market.

First, one needs to understand that it is completely impossible to blame the current glut of excess horses on the closing of the slaughter plants because the closings simply sent the horses over the Mexican and Canadian borders for slaughter. In 2006, the year before the closings, 142,740 American horses were slaughtered, and that number only dropped by 14% the year the plants were closed. By 2008, slaughter was back to the second highest level in almost ten years.

Next, it is necessary to understand what really causes neglect, and that is unemployment. After years of studying the relationship between neglect rates and slaughter volumes, I had concluded that there was no relationship whatever. Then I looked at the rates of neglect in Illinois in comparison with unemployment in the state. The correlation was striking.

Like most such revelations, it should have been expected, but it was still striking. It perfectly explains the mystery of how the number of American horses slaughtered in the US between 1989 and 2002 could have dropped from 377,078 to 77,713 (almost 80%) with no negative impact on either neglect or horse prices.

This correlation also tells us what we can expect as unemployment goes both up and down. At the moment the US is experiencing high unemployment with national rates hovering just under 10%. As predicted from the above graph, this is causing a high rate of neglect.

So why can I say with complete confidence that we are coming up on the perfect opportunity to end slaughter without significantly impacting the horse market?

There is a second factor at work. As the market for horses remains depressed, many breeders are throwing in the proverbial towel. Every day brood mares and stallions are being sold at auction and on internet sites like Craig's List. This is temporarily increasing the supply and further depressing prices.

The result of this further depression in prices is to convince even more breeders to quit producing. Statistics show breeding is down dramatically in virtually all breeds. The Jockey Club, for example, recently predicted the 2011 foal crop will be the lowest since 1973. Similarly, the American Quarter Horse Association's annual reports shows a 15% drop in revenue for new registrations between 2006 and 2009.

This trend will continue until the economy begins to recover significantly, or the market eventually reaches a new balance. Slaughter cannot help reduce the over supply of horses because the horse meat market is also depressed. Although the export of US slaughter horses in 2008 brought the annual slaughter back its level before the plant closures, the subsequent recession caused a 25.8% drop in exports between 2008 and 2009. The reduction in demand for slaughter horses will likely continue as the effects of new EU drug residue regulations begin forcing horses to be quarantined for 6 months prior to slaughter.

But these two trends are about to merge and provide a wonderful opportunity to end slaughter with little or no impact on the market. As the smaller foal crops reach market age, there will be a reduction supply, and when the economy finally begins to recover, it will bring with it more carrying capacity (demand) for horses. With less supply and more homes available, the number of surplus horses will dip to a record low.

Moreover, there will be a move toward quality. In a recent interview, a struggling breeder in Canada complained she had to sell her horses to slaughter because the market was so low, but in the very next sentence she explained "You have to breed 100 horses to get two good ones." Clearly that business model has been a big part of the problem that gotten us to this point, but few "lotto breeders" appear to be surviving the current market.

Only a deep and prolonged recession could have brought us this opportunity and we have certainly been experiencing just that. It would be a tremendous shame if we missed this coming opportunity. Recent auction reports indicate that prices are already beginning to increase.

What is needed is for congress to pass HR 503 / S 727, banning the slaughter and export to slaughter of American horses. This action could be placed in abeyance until a trigger was reached of unemployment dropping significantly (perhaps under 8%). The result would be a smooth transition to a much more humane equine industry.

Horse slaughter is not a "necessary evil", merely an evil. Now is our opportunity to resign this practice to the dust bin of American history.

John Holland is a freelance writer, the author of three books and an industrial consultant in the field of intelligent automation and knowledge engineering. He frequently writes on the subject of horse slaughter from his small farm in the mountains of Virginia, where he lives with his wife, Sheilah, and their 12 equines. Holland is president of the Equine Welfare Alliance and serves as senior analyst for Americans Against Horse Slaughter, an organization composed entirely of volunteers.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

From the Cloud Foundation

Tuscarora Roundup- NE Nevada

July 22, Tuscarora update:

The death toll has risen to at least 21 horses as the BLM completed their goal of near complete removal of the Owyhee Herd- 638 horses were removed and it is unknown how many remain on the range. A lawsuit filed by Laura Leigh continues with recent filings for BLM's contempt of court. Federal Judge Hicks did rule that the BLM must open the public lands and allow observation of the roundup by plaintiff Leigh and all others interested. Despite this court ruling the BLM initially denied members of the public access, would not disclose to Leigh where the trap site was located and continues to bar observation at the roundup trap site until today and Saturday when public observation days are planned. The BLM stated in court that there were no cattle on the horses' range when in fact there are and this has been documented, as well water in water holes and many fences. You can read more in our frequent press releases - online here. The BLM has now opened the public lands of the Owyhee Complex herd management areas and Leigh and others observing are safe and will continue to document the horses and the area. Please disregard rumors that circulate in this heated time and understand that Leigh, The Cloud Foundation and others are doing all we can. . Thank you for your support during this time and help in preserving, protecting and celebrating all of our American wild horses and burros.

Action Alert- please help support "Herd-Watch" (public eyes for public horses) with your donations and support- click here to learn more and help. You can also learn more about signing up to be a part of Herd-Watch. Remember, your donations are 100% tax deductible and help keep gas in the tank.
The legal actions of Leigh are being supported by
BLM is posting updates on the horses here as death toll continues to rise.

Please call Secretary Salazar and your Representative and Senators and demand that they stop the tax-payer funded disaster in Tuscarora before more mustangs are killed.
Phone: 202-208-3100 Fax: 202-208-6956 E-Mail: (send free online faxes via

It's Time to Put the Pressure On, Again!

The Horses Need Us NOW!!

Americans Against Horse Slaughter Philadelphia, PA

For Immediate Release July 23, 2010

Americans Against Horse Slaughter And WFLF/Humanion Films Call On All Americans To Step Up Efforts To End Horse Slaughter Powerful Policy Makers join Film as speakers and cast in Humanion Film’s “Saving America’s Horses – A Nation Betrayed” Congressmen Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, House Representative Dan Burton of Indiana and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana have all joined the film, Saving America’s Horses. Producers Katia Louise and Debra Lopez have recently interviewed these powerful policy makers for the film about their thoughts and positions regarding pending bills that would protect America’s equines from slaughter and protect our wild horses. Check out WFLF Humanion Films’ new “Action to End Horse Slaughter” preview clip which includes exclusive statements by these powerful policy makers. Special appearances in this preview additionally include Tippi Hedren of the Roar Foundation and Neda DeMayo of Return to Freedom. This special pre-release preview clears the air on misinformation that has been circulated by pro slaughter proponents. Learn more about what you can do to help end this barbaric practice without further delay. How You Can Help Please Contact The Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (Vermont) and all the Senate Judiciary Committee Members (see list below) and ask them to move S727 out of committee and on to the floor for a vote to pass The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act. Next, contact the House Judiciary Subcommittee Members and ask them to move HR503 out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. Members: You can also contact your U.S. representative and your two U.S. Senators and urge him or her to vote YES on the anti horse slaughter bill by calling the Captiol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 Step up your efforts! Watch the all new exclusive “Action to End Horse Slaughter” preview clip from “SAVING AMERICA’S HORSES – A NATION BETRAYED” HERE!

Senate Judiciary Committee Members
1. Patrick J. Leahy Vermont #(202) 224-4242
2. Herb Kohl Wisconsin #(202) 224-5653 Fax(202) 224-9787
3. Dianne Feinstein California #(202) 224-3841 Fax:(202) 228-3954
4. Russ Feingold Wisconsin #(202)-224-5323
5. Arlen Specter Pennsylvania #202-224-4254 Fax:(202)-228-1229
6. Chuck Schumer New York #202-224-6542 Fax:(202)-228-3027
7. Dick Durbin Illinois #(202) 224-2152 Fax:(202)-228-0400
8. Benjamin L. Cardin Maryland #202-224-4524 Fax:(202)-224-1651
9. Sheldon Whitehouse Rhode Island#202-224-2921 Fax:(202)-228-6362
10. Amy Klobuchar Minnesota #202-224-3244 Fax:(202)-228-2186
11. Ted Kaufman Delaware #(202) 224-5042 Fax:(202) 228-3075
12. Al Franken Minnesota #(202) 224-5641
13. Jeff Sessions Alabama #(202) 224-4124
14. Orrin G. Hatch Utah #(202) 224-5251 Fax: (202)224-6331
15. Chuck Grassley Iowa #(202) 224-3744 Fax:(202) 224-6020
16. Jon Kyl Arizona #(202) 224-4521 Fax:(202) 224-2207
17. Lindsey Graham South Carolina #(202) 224-5972
18. John Cornyn Texas #(202)-224-2934 Fax: (202)-228-2856
19. Tom Coburn Oklahoma #(202)-224-5754 Fax:(202)-224-6008

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Judge Denies Wild Horses Their Freedom

From Laura Allen…..

Judge Friedman Denies Preliminary Injunction But Questions BLM Policies
Posted Dec 21, 2009 by lauraallen
o Horse Slaughter
Update Dec. 23, 2009: Judge Paul L. Friedman has denied the motion by plaintiffs In Defense of Animals, Craig Downer and Terri Farley, for a preliminary injunction to stop the roundup of up to 2,736 wild horses from the Calico Mountain Complex herd management areas in Nevada.
But the judge has also rejected that BLM can continue to keep unadopted wild horses and burros in long term facilities. The judge agreed with the plaintiff that BLM has no authority to transport healthy unadoptable horses and hold them in long term holding facilities especially in places where they were not located previously, Oklahoma, Kansas or South Dakota.
The judge, however, found the plaintiffs did not raise this argument until their reply brief and it could not be the basis for a preliminary injunction. The judge said the defendants had not had time to brief the issue fully. The judge did reject the BLM's contention that Congress had ratified its policies of putting unadopted wild horses and burros into long term holding facilities by approving appropriations bills.
The judge suggested the agency postpone the roundup scheduled for December 28 but declined to issue an injunction. The judge reasoned that if the BLM proceeds with the gather, knowing that long term holding may not be an option and with no funds under the Appropriations Act, FY 2010, for euthanization or sale for slaughter, the agency must come up with another solution for the horses it will have removed. The judge said that once removed as excess, the horses could not at that point simply be returned to the herd areas.
The judge found "untenable" the plaintiffs' other contention that BLM cannot round up and remove horses en masse. The court rejected the plaintiffs' interpretation of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1331 et seq, (WFRHBA) that BLM must determine on a case by case basis those horses deemed "excess" or causing an overpopulation, and then remove them under a tiered approach with the old, sick and lame taken first and then the healthy adoptable horses. The judge said such a process would put the BLM in "an impossible Catch-22" because the agency could not really evaluate the health or age of horses without capturing them first. The judge found the WFRHBA did not prohibit the BLM's current method of rounding up horses, separating them, sterlizing and returning some and placing others in short term holding facilities for adoption or sale.
Judge Friedman did also say the public and BLM's interest in controlling the overpopulation of wild horses could be negatively impacted by a delay. He said "issuance of an injunction at this stage might lead to substantial growth in already overpopulated herds" in the Calico Complex. The judge also said that, according to BLM, a spring roundup could result in more injuries for the wild horses.
For more on the plaintiffs' allegations, read Animal Law Coalition's original report below.
Original report: The plaintiffs, In Defense of Animals, wildlife ecologist Craig Downer and journalist and author, Terri Farley, are optimistic U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman, will grant their request for a preliminary injunction to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)'s plan to round up wild horses from the Calico Mountain Complex in Nevada.
Plaintiffs say BLM's proposed round up set to begin December 28 violates the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, 16 U.S.C. §1331 et seq., and is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and in excess of and without legal authority, in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. §701 et seq.
The judge has promised to rule before Christmas.
In their First Amended Complaint the plaintiffs point out BLM has no authority under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, 16 U.S.C. §1331 et seq., to use helicopters to round up wild horses en masse and hold them in short or long term holding facilities. BLM is required to manage the wild horses and burros as "components" of the public lands on which they were living as of 1971 or on designated ranges. 16 U.S.C. §1333 BLM must manage them at "the minimal feasible level". 16 U.S.C. §1333 WFRHBA forbids the capture, harassment, death and inhumane treatment of these animals. 16 U.S.C. §1331, 43 CFR 4700.0-2, -5
U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled recently in the case, Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Inc. v. Salazar, No. 06-1609 (D.D.C 2009):
"It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild free roaming horses and burros to "manage" them, Congress intended to permit the animals' custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that Congress sought to protect from being captured and removed from the wild. Defendants argue that the horses will not be "eradicated" or "eliminated" inasmuch as BLM intends to continue to manage the horses not in the wild but through private adoption or long-term care.
...But BLM's directive is 'to protect and manage wild free-roaming horses and burros as components of the public lands . . . ‘ 16 U.S.C. § 1333(a) (emphasis added). Congress did not authorize BLM to ‘manage' the wild horses by corralling them for private maintenance or long-term care as non-wild free-roaming animals off of the public lands. Upon removal for private adoption and/or long-term care, the West Douglas Herd would forever cease to be ‘wild free-roaming' horses ‘as components of the public lands' contrary to Congress's intent to protect the horses from capture. Moreover, the statute expressly provides that BLM's ‘management activities shall be at the minimal feasible level . . . .'
It is difficult to think of a ‘management activity' that is farther from a ‘minimal feasible level' than removal."
The BLM is directed to protect the wild horses and burros "in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands" and "protect the natural ecological balance of all wildlife species which inhabit such lands, particularly endangered wildlife species. Any adjustments in forage allocations on any such lands shall take into consideration the needs of other wildlife species which inhabit such lands." 16 U.S.C. §1333(a). The Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978 amended the WFRHBA to require BLM to determine appropriate management levels (AML) and maintain an inventory of wild horses and burros to help achieve these goals.
BLM is only authorized to remove "excess" wild horses or burros. Under WFRHBA, "excess animals" means wild free-roaming horses or burros (1) which have been removed from an area by the Secretary [of the Interior] pursuant to applicable law or, (2) which must be removed from an area in order to preserve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship in that area. 16 U.S.C. §1332.
Basically the BLM is only authorized to cull wild horses and burros from their historic herd areas where they were living in 1971 to control overpopulation or "maintain a thriving natural ecological balance". In designated ranges, there may be consideration given to "multiple uses" but even these are to be "devoted principally" to the wild horses and burros. 16 U.S.C. §§1332, 1333
Plaintiffs' Allegations
The plaintiffs say that even if there are "excess" wild horses in the Calico Mountain Complex herd management areas, the BLM cannot simply use helicopters to drive them all into holding pens or corrals and then return the few that the agency decides are not "excess". The WFHRBA is clear that BLM must first cull any wild horses that are old, sick or lame. 16 U.S.C. §1333 Plaintiffs say this most likely means these animals would be humanely euthanized in the field.
According to the plaintiffs, the BLM must then determine on a horse by horse basis which are adoptable and remove only those excess adoptable horses. 16 U.SC. §1333 The plaintiffs say BLM has no authority to round up healthy, unadoptable wild horses and transport them to holding facilities where they were not living in 1971. Though WFRHBA states BLM shall euthanize remaining unadoptable healthy excess wild horses and burros, the Appropriations Act, FY 2010, de-funds or bars BLM from using any of its budget to euthanize healthy wild horses or sell them for "processing into commercial products".
But because BLM cannot or does not euthanize healthy, unadoptable horses deemed "excess," does not mean the agency can put them into short or long term holding facilities. Nothing in WFRHBA authorizes excess wild horses to be maintained in this way.
During oral argument on Dec. 16, Judge Friedman asked about the fate of the "excess" healthy, unadoptable horses. Clearly the plaintiffs believe they should simply be left to roam freely in the herd management areas, that at this point, the law provides no basis for their removal.
The BLM also has no authority, say the plaintiffs, to round up non-excess wild horses even if the agency then returns them to the wild.
BLM Says Congress has Ratified its Plans for the Calico Wild Horses
In this case BLM plans to use a helicopter to round up 2,432-2,736 wild horses or nearly 90% of the population of the Calico Mountain Complex herd management areas and then return 268 to the wild. The herds and families will be destroyed forever.
BLM says it is too expensive, too difficult, to assess and cull wild horses on a case by case basis. BLM also says that, regardless, Congress has ratified or approved the agency's helicopter roundups and management of wild horses and burros in short and long term holding facilities. BLM contends that in appropriating funds for roundups and holding facilities, Congress has ratified the agency's policies and effectively amended the WFRHBA to allow this.
Plaintiffs countered that while Congress can amend laws in appropriations legislation, there is a presumption against it and any such amendment must be stated clearly. Congress has never stated clearly that it approves of BLM's management of wild horses and burros in this way.
The Cruelty of BLM's Handling of Wild Horses
The plaintiffs note that according to the 2008 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, 1.2% or horses died during BLM roundups also called "gathers" in 2005-2007. This means during the Calico gather, 30-34 wild horses are likely to die. According to the GAO report, up to 5% of the wild horses died while they were held in short term holding facilities from 2003-2007 and 8% died during that period in long term holding facilities.
These animals also suffer destruction of their herds, separation of families, even foals from their mares. Wild horses and burros have suffered terrible injuries during these round ups and while kept in holding facilities. Some will try to jump even 6' fences or throw themselves at corral panels in an effort to escape, breaking their necks or legs. They suffer as any wild animal would when kept in captivity, a condition known as capture myopathy. They can die from this and at best, live with their spirits broken, forever denied the free-roaming herd behavior promised by WFRHBA.
The Calico helicopter round up scheduled to begin December 28 presents a particular danger to mares likely to be pregnant with foals. Old, sick and disabled wild horses are likely to suffer injuries and even death as they are run down by helicopters.
BLM's "Excess" Wild Horses
As of May 31, 2009 there were 8,532 horses and 57 burros in short-term holding facilities that have a total capacity of 15,645 animals. As of that date there were 22,126 horses in long-term holding facilities that have a total capacity of 22,100. The long-term holding facilities are full. BLM claims there are 10,350 excess wild horses and burros that must be removed from herd areas and ranges. Since 2000, BLM has removed more than 74,000 wild horses and burros from the wild, 40% of the population.
It is far from clear that these wild horses and burros are actually "excess". In the Calico Mountain Complex environmental assessment, for example, BLM relied on old, outdated data to determine appropriate management levels of wild horses. Just last year, BLM permitted a 300% increase in cattle grazing in the area. The same area said to be too degraded and dry for the few remaining wild horses.
Also, despite the WFRHBA mandate to maintain a current inventory of wild horses, BLM's census fluctuate wildly. Plaintiff Craig Downer has questioned whether BLM is now exaggerating the census to justify removal of even more wild horses. For more on BLM's decision to round up and remove nearly 90% of the wild horses in the Calico Mountain Complex...
The Safari Club International and Safari Club International Foundation and Coalition for Nevada's Wildlife have filed amici briefs in support of BLM's assessments and decision to remove these wild horses.
Go here for information about the WFRHBA and how BLM has eroded the protections for the wild horses and burros. And here for more on BLM's manipulation of WFRHBA and its plans for managing wild horses and burros.
Go here to find out how you can join the call for a moratorium on BLM roundups of wild horses and burros.

Monday, December 14, 2009

BLM Continues to Lie, Wild Horses Gathered in Snow and Ice Storm

BLM’s Don Glenn Openly Lies to Press and Advocates While Wild Horses are Rounded Up

Once free, their beautiful lives ruined - Palomino Valley 12/11/09 - Photo by K. McCovey
Following the yet-unsolved shooting death of 6 federally-protected mustangs, more of America’s mustangs are removed; at least one mare has died to date.
The discovery of shooting deaths of six wild horses on the California-Nevada border has led to the exposure of an apparently clandestine BLM roundup of over 200 horses. The roundup of the Buckhorn Wild Horses was scheduled to begin in August 2010. However, in a surprise move by the Surprise BLM field office in Cedarville, CA, the roundup took place November 30-December 10th. The horses were run into traps in freezing conditions with rain and snow and overnight lows dipping below 0ºF. BLM spokesman Jeff Fontana reported that 217 were removed, leaving 59 on the range. This roundup was originally planned for a removal of 536 horses to get down to a BLM-approved level of just 85 horses or less.
No one was there observe because no one was told this roundup had been moved up 9 months until after the fact. How many horses were injured, how many were killed? How exactly was the roundup conducted? The truth is, any member of the public is seriously remiss in trusting this agency. Only the most dedicated members of the public would even be able and willing to drive in this weather to observe such a roundup.

Mare and Foal pen at Palomino Vally holdy facility - 12/11/09 - Photo by K. McCovey
One mare has died after being crushed by a metal panel, according to BLM and foals appear to be in poor condition in the BLM Palomino Valley holding pens following the ordeal and another winter storm. The horses have no shelter and the windbreaks are not up. BLM has zeroed out wild horses for just that reason in the past. The change to conduct this roundup in winter was made without notification to the BLM’s own press agents, the media or the public. The requisite 30-day comment period was conducted in August of 2009 on a suspect recycled 2007 Environmental Assessment (EA) that was reused in August 2009 to allow for a roundup in this area. When advocates learned that this roundup was taking place nine months ahead of schedule, the Surprise Field Office had no record of decision (ROD) or final EA posted on their website to authorize this roundup. On Friday, following inquiries from the public, an unsigned August ROD was posted on the BLM site.
While BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program Chief, Don Glenn, was telling the advocates in attendance at a National BLM Advisory Board meeting that they were welcome to observe any BLM roundup (which came as news to the many people there who had repeatedly been denied access to view roundups this year and in the past) roundup crews were in process of “gathering” horses. Mr. Glenn’s invitation is clearly hampered by not knowing when and where roundups will take place. To date an updated roundup schedule has still not been posted on the National BLM website.

Another herd destroyed by the BLM - Merry Christmas - Photo by K. McCovey
Pressure is growing on the BLM as a unified moratorium letter signed by over 190 organizations, including the Cloud Foundation, the Equine Welfare Alliance and In Defense of Animals as well as noted scientists, and celebrities such as Sheryl Crow, Lily Tomlin, Viggo Mortenson, Ed Harris, Bill Maher and more. This call is supported by signatures of over 7,000 individuals. (add your name here!)
Ginger Kathrens of the Cloud Foundation, spoke with the Surprise field office in early December and learned that the Massacre Lakes roundup (scheduled to being December 7th) had been delayed until February. The BLM failed to inform Ms. Kathrens at that time that another roundup had been substituted in its place.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is moving forward with roundups of America’s wild horses and burros and carrying on with operations through the dead of winter in California, Oregon and Nevada. According to the most recent Roundup Schedule (12/4/09) the BLM plans to remove 7,163 wild horses and burros this winter, and another 4,395 in the summer of 2010. This roundup schedule was given to Advisory Board members on 12/7 but not to the Cloud Foundation until 12/10/09 upon request.
The notorious KD Livestock crews moves next to southeast Oregon where they are scheduled to remove over 200 horses in what could be equally dangerous winter conditions. BLM Chief Don Glenn invites the world to watch.
The BLM is the bull in the china shop of America’s public western wildlands. Their mismanagement is nearly as legendary as the mustangs themselves. Keep up the call for a moratorium on roundups!
Sign the petition and send your comments to President Obama and your representatives here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Support the Moratorium to Save the Wild Horses

Moratorium Letter to President Obama and Secretary Salazar

23 November 2009
Individuals: sign on to this letter & send your request & comments to President Obama and your Representatives in one easy step. click here to support the moratorium
Organizations: we still need your support! Upload sign on form here and send to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ' ); //--> &subject=Moratorium Letter- please add my organization" $included="null">
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A Unified Call for an Immediate Moratorium on Wild Horse & Burro Roundups
And a humane, fiscally responsible plan for preserving and protecting the iconic,
free-roaming wild horses and burros of the American West
President Obama, Members of Congress and the Department of the Interior:
We, the undersigned, request major changes to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro program. This must begin with an immediate moratorium on all roundups. While we agree that the program is in dire need of reform, and we applaud your Administration's commitment to avoid BLM’s suggested mass-killing of horses, the plan outlined in October by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar raises numerous concerns. These include:
Perpetuating the flawed assumption that wild horses and burros are overpopulating their Western ranges.
In reality, the BLM has no accurate current inventory of the 37,000 wild horses and burros it claims remain on public lands. Independent analysis of BLM’s own numbers reveal there may be only 15,000 wild horses remaining on public lands.
Continuing the mass removal of wild horses and burros from their rightful Western ranges: The BLM intends to spend over $30 million in Fiscal Year 2010 to capture more than 12,000 wild horses and burros. This stockpiling of horses continues even as an astounding 32,000 are already being held in government holding facilities at enormous taxpayer expense.
Scapegoating wild horses and burros for range deterioration even though they comprise only a tiny fraction of animals and wildlife grazing our public lands. Far greater damage is caused by privately-owned livestock, which outnumber the horses more than 100 to 1.
Moving wild horses and burros east off their Western homelands to “sanctuaries” in the east and Midwest at an initial cost of $96 million creates significant health concerns if animals adapted to western landscapes are managed on wet ground and rich grasses.
Removing tens of thousands of horses and burros from their legally-designated Western ranges and moving them into government-run facilities subverts the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act, which mandated that horses be preserved “where presently found.” A 2009 DC district court case held that “Congress did not authorize BLM to “manage” the wild horses and burros by corralling them for private maintenance or long-term care as non-wild free-roaming animals off the public lands.”
We appreciate your Administration's recognition of the horses’ value as an ecotourism resource. However, the display of captive, non-reproducing herds in eastern pastures renders them little more than zoo exhibits, further discounting the contribution to our history and the future of the American West.
We believe that workable solutions to create a healthy “multiple use” of public rangelands, protect the ecological balance of all wildlife, and preserve America's wild horses and burros in their rightful, legally protected home can be achieved. We are calling on the Obama Administration to reform the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Management Program.
We ask that you reverse the current course and immediately take the following actions:
Place a moratorium on all roundups until accurate and independent assessments of population numbers and range conditions are made available and a final, long-term solution is formalized.
Restore protections included in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Update existing laws that protect wild horses by reopening certain public lands to the mustangs and burros, thus decreasing the number in captivity. Return healthy wild horses and burros in holding to all available acres of public land designated primarily for their use in 1971. If these lands are not available, equivalent and appropriate western public lands should be added in their place.
Support federal grazing permit buybacks. Reduce livestock grazing and reanalyze appropriate management levels for herd management areas to allow for self-sustaining, genetically-viable herds to exist in the west.
Conduct Congressional hearings regarding the mismanagement of our wild herds and further investigate the inability of BLM to correct the shortcomings of the program as audited by the Government Accountability Office’s 1990, 1991 and 2008 reports.
Supported by the undersigned on November 18, 2009
Click here for a list of supporting organizations, celebrities and scientists.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mustangs Rare as Buffalo

BLM Plan Could Make the Mustang as Rare as the Buffalo
By Steven Long
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Of the 14,000 wild horses the Bureau of Land Management will take from their wilderness homes next year, the agency will only return 2,200 to the wild.
A substantial number of the horses taken in BLM “gathers” will be mares. And of those, the agency says it will render 800 incapable of reproducing, or almost 40 percent of the heard strength returning to the wild. Equine geneticists claim the government’s plan is to eliminate wild horses from the American West in favor of cattle leases where ranchers pay a $1.35 per head per month.
Under this formula, there will be precious few Mustangs left in the West a generation from now. Wild horse lovers claim it is a rape of the national wildlife heritage comparable to the 19th century destruction of the buffalo herds that once roamed the land.
The BLM claims the horses are hard on the land, but currently there are only slightly more than 30,000 left in the wild according to the agency. That number is hotly disputed by animal welfare advocates. More than 1 million cows graze on the public acreage, yet the agency never complains of bovine damage to meadows and riparian areas.
The agency controls 262 million acres.
The government claims wild horses breed resulting in a 20 percent each increase in herd size each year resulting in an ever growing population. Yet entire foal crops are wiped out in some herd management areas each year by predators such as wolves and mountain lions. There are only slightly more than 60,000 wild horses left, and half are already in BLM holding pens eating government feed, hay, and grazing land at an ever growing cost to the taxpayer.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, (D) Louisiana, has called for the BLM to submit a report next year on how it plans to change what is currently perceived as gross mismanagement.
The agency says no herd management areas will be left bare of wild horses after next year’s roundups, however, anecdotal reports coming into Horseback’s offices this week tell another story. No wild horses can be found on a Nevada refuge after an October roundup, sauces say, yet the BLM claims horses are still there? Perhaps they are ghosts who only appear to government bureaucrats? Observers suffering from eye strain wonder.
The drug of choice to render mares incapable of reproducing is PZP. It is provided to the agency in a cozy deal with the Humane Society of the United States. Activists charge the nation’s largest animal welfare operation has a conflict of interest when it comes to wild horses.
Some have become increasingly aggravated with a perceived lack of action on the part of the HSUS, as well as the Washington based Animal Welfare Institute to halt BLM’s aggressive roundup schedule. In fact, HSUS applauded a BLM plan announced recently by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to remove wild horse herds from the west and place them as tourist attractions in the Midwest and East. Wild horse experts scoff at the plan.
Neither HSUS or AWI has lent their name or prestige to a petition demanding President Obama call a moratorium on BLM roundups of wild horses. The hard hitting petition has been submitted to the White House by The Cloud Foundation and the Equine Welfare Alliance.
Frustration with HSUS boiled over when EWA co-founder John Holland wrote last week to Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society, regarding the perception that the relationship with BLM appears to be too cozy.
“ Have you given any consideration to how HSUS is gradually being made more and more complicit in this rapidly expanding assault on our wild herds? Are you comfortable with that complicity?” Holland wrote. “It is now clear that the BLM is planning for the elimination or eventual extinction of the herds. I am deeply concerned that HSUS may be drawn into a ballooning potential scandal.”
Pacelle didn’t give Holland the courtesy of a reply, instead directing a wildlife scientist with HSUS to respond.
“The HSUS supports the use of contraception as a management tool to bring horses to, and maintain, viable populations on the range,” wrote Stephanie Boyles. “The HSUS does not support the gather and removal of any wild horse, except in cases in which the health or safety of an individual horse is in question, for which there is not the probability of locating an appropriate adoptive home.”