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
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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.”

Slaughter Czar, Salazar

Wild horse activists buzz Denver with anti-Salazar banner
By Bruce Finley
The Denver Post

Posted: 11/20/2009 05:58:25 PM MST

Updated: 11/20/2009 06:06:14 PM MST

Wild horse advocates tried to challenge a federal relocation proposal by flying a banner over Denver this afternoon that called Interior Secretary Ken Salazar "the slaughter czar."

New Mexico-based Wild Horse Observers Association co-founder Patience O'Dowd said her group opposes Salazar's proposal to re-locate thousands of the wild horses that roam the West.

They paid $2,000 to fly the banner over the federal center in Lakewood, where the Interior Department has offices, and over central Denver until sunset.

Salazar was not in Colorado today.

The proposal calls for keeping some 25,000 non-reproducing horses at seven preserves in the Midwest and East.

It would be more humane and feasible to manage growing wild herds by shooting birth-control darts at the horses from helicopters, O'Dowd said.

The growth of wild horse herds over 40 years has challenged federal land managers to find a way to balance wild horse, cattle industry and energy interests without slaughter while also minimizing costs to taxpayers. Federal officials over the past year spent $29 million caring for some 32,000 wild horses and burros rounded up into fenced holding areas around the West.

"We have to find a humane way to manage the horses on the range so that they avoid starvation and so that ecosystems are protected from overgrazing," Salazar spokesman Matt Lee-Ashley said. "Nobody is proposing slaughter."

Opponents to the management plan, he said, "have let their imaginations run wild."

Bruce Finley: 303-954-1700 or

Monday, November 16, 2009

Keep Those Cards, Letters, Faxes and Calls Flying!

Wild horse removal generates over 7,000 comments to BLM
November 16, 2:22 PMLA Equine Policy ExaminerCarrol Abel

Nevada wild horses photo by Carrol Abel
The Bureau of Land Management logged over 7,000 comments from a concerned public regarding the scheduled round up of 2,700 wild horses from the Calico Complex in Northern Nevada. The 21 day public comment period closed on Thursday, Nov. 12.
Rumors over what was thought to be an incorrect e-mail address posted on the BLM web-site turned out to be untrue. According to Jerome Fox, BLM wild horse and burro specialist, the reason for a last minute change in email addresses could have been due to the large number of responses. Correspondence to either email address will be logged. They are then categorized as coming from an individual, an organization, or another government agency.
Octobers release of the Preliminary Environmental Assessment of the already scheduled Calico round up revealed that between 80% and 90%of roughly 2,700 wild horses from the Calico Complex in Northern Nevada. Between 80% and 90% of the herds are to be removed from the wild beginning December 1.
Question abound regarding the estimated population of wild horses in the complex which consists of five herd management areas. BLM documents show a 2004 population of 575 animals..... almost half of those were mares injected with the immunocontraceptive PZP. The 2007 inventory shows only 761 wild horses. But records just one year later reflect a sudden rise to 2,071. By October of this year, BLM records show the complex as home to over 3,000 wild horses.
The question of accurate inventories is further complicated by a 2008 livestock allotment decision allowing an increase of cattle by almost 300%. American Herds quotes the document as saying there was ,"little evidence of 'wild horse' utilization...given the relative few numbers of horses/burros their impact on upland vegetation during the critical growing period will be minimal. This conclusion is supported by the fact that several upland monitoring sites established ( in one of the HMA's) are no longer monitored because very little or no use by wild horses/burros was documented at these sites."
Mr. Fox stated that he personally took part in the October 2009 aerial survey which took place over 4 1/2 days. The population count of 3,095 wild horses was correct. When asked if the movement of horses throughout the 4 1/2 day time frame could cause some to be counted two or even three times, he began a reference to "natural barriers" then abruptly ended the conversation saying, "I gotta go. Talk to you later. Bye.", then hung up the phone.
Advocate organizations anxiously await the final decision on the Calico Complex gather. Willis Lamb, long time wild horse advocate, responded to the large number of public comments by saying, " If BLM received over 7,000 public comments over a single gather, it kind of makes you think there could be a problem with their plan. And the response sure makes you think that the public is starting to take notice and get concerned about pulling more horses off the range and dumping them in holding facilities. Perhaps the days of "trap and toss" range management are numbered."