Congressmen Send Letter to Salazar to Halt Costly and Deadly BLM Wild Horse Stampedes, AGAIN

Grijalva Urges Int. Sec. Salazar to Halt Horse Spaying Plan, Stop Roundups Pending Completion of Nat. Academy of Sciences Review

photo by Terry Fitch

Washington, D.C.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar urging an immediate halt to a new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plan to spay and geld wild horses, which could lead to the brutal death of many horses and contribute to their eventual extinction in the United States. The letter, co-signed by 64 other Members of Congress, outlines concerns with BLM wild horse oversight practices and highlights the extremity of the new spaying plan.

The plan to spay and geld horses to create non-reproducing herds was recently selected for the first time as the management tool for the White Mountain and Little Colorado herds in southern Wyoming.

“To accomplish the goal of creating a non-reproducing herd, the BLM proposes to geld stallions and also spay wild horse mares,” the letter reads in part. “Both procedures are dangerous for wild animals, but the spaying of female horses is a practice not even recommended for domestic mares, let alone wild ones.”

As an alternative, one of the methods emphasized in the letter is immunocontraception, a tool endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States. The letter points out that the BLM has a history of inhumane treatment of wild horses and burros and needs to improve its overall management practices. The holding of wild horses throughout the West cost the federal government $36.9 million in fiscal year 2010.

“We are also concerned about BLM’s overall commitment to herd conservation and stewardship,” the letter reads. “BLM budget allocation to census operations and actual on the ground range monitoring was a paltry $1 million last year, while roundup operations alone constituted over $7.7 million. It appears that BLM is focusing their efforts on eradication of wild horses and burros, rather than actual management and monitoring on the range.”

Grijalva has been actively pursuing horse safety oversight for years, especially in his capacity as ranking member of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee. His earlier efforts and recommendations led to an ongoing review of BLM policies by the National Academy of Sciences, which is scheduled to be completed early next year.

In the letter that initiated that study, Grijalva noted that such a study could lead to “a clear determination of the most accurate, science-based methodologies to estimate wild horse and burro populations, provide an assessment of Appropriate Management Levels based on the goal of maintaining sustainable herds and provide an assessment of practical, effective, nonlethal and publicly acceptable management alternatives to current BLM policies.”

Today’s letterargues that the study must be completed before BLM officials waste more taxpayer dollars on inefficient roundups. The full letter is reviewable at http://grijalva.house.gov/uploads/Grijalva%20Letter%20to%20Salazar%20Wild%20Horse%20Managament%20July%2028.pdf.