Horse News

A Report from “Mustangs on the Hill”

courtesy of Steven Long, editor of Horseback Magazine

Wild Horse Advocates Ride Up the Hill

It was a big day for wild horses in Washington D.C. on Tuesday as The Cloud Foundation staged its “Horses on the Hill” event and the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board met giving barely a listen to activists protesting wholesale roundups decimating herds in the American West.

In an exclusive report, Dr. Ann Marini writes about what she saw and heard.

Hi Everyone;

It was an interesting day on the hill today. I met Craig Downer (a noted Wild Horse expert) and John Holland

Advocates speak for those who cannot speak for themselves

Advocates speak for those who cannot speak for themselves

(longtime anti-slaughter activist) at the Press Conference held by Ginger Kathrens (the Emmy winning documentary filmmaker). Rep. Raul Grijalva, Crow Elder Howard Boggess and Hope Ryden spoke at the Press Conference. AWI staff and Chris Hyde (Animal Welfare Institute) were also present. There were about 20-30 people at the Press Conference.

Carol Walker, the equine photographer, showed a disturbing slide show of a round up at Sand Wash, Colorado where several horses were dead on the ground or where their front legs were hanging over the second rail of the metal pen because so many were crowded in a small space.

After this slide show, Congressman Grijalva spoke about how the ROAM act passed the House by a wide margin indicating that the people want reform of how the wild horses are managed and handled. He spoke about holding future roundups in abeyance until the Senate discusses the ROAM bill and comes up with their bill and that any discrepancies would be worked out in conference. He took a few questions from the audience. Hope Ryden, a former reporter for ABC spoke about how she took out a film crew in the 70s to save the wild horses and her book. The Crow elder, Howard Boggess also spoke about the spirit of the wild horses and how the BLM has slowly taken away vital and supportive grass and water away from the wild horses. He talked about how he and Jim Sparks have argued about how the BLM is “managing” the wild horses. The meeting ended about 11 am.

John, Craig and I went down to the cafeteria in the Longworth building and had something to eat. Craig and I went to see the aide in Senator Mikulski’s office who took extensive notes. Senator Mikulski is now a co-sponsor of S727 because of all of the calls and emails from constituents and he said that a few hundred constituents want the ROAM bill passed. We went to Jeff Bingaman’s (D-NM) office but didn’t see an aide as we didn’t have an appointment and neither of us is from New Mexico. We saw an aide in Sen. Reid’s office.

Sen. Reid gave an on the fence speech about the wild horse issue but said he wanted it to come to the Senate floor. We also saw the aide in Senator Ensign’s office. This aide was clearly the most knowledgeable person on the issue that we spoke with today. He was head and shoulders above all of the other aides we saw including Reid’s aide.

We were told that it is unlikely that the ROAM bill will get out of the subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources. Craig spoke eloquently on the topic of the wild horses and how the BLM has systemically removed 21 million acres from the wild horses and zeroed out several areas. He had a histogram of the percent of wild horses removed from the herd management areas (HMAs) outlined in the original wild horse and burro act of 1971 in every state. Montana is one of the states where over 90 percent of the herds have been zeroed out.

We then met Goldie and James (a filmmaker) in Senator James Risch’s (R-ID) office and spoke with a substitute aide about the ROAM bill. Risch also sits on the subcommittee. Ginger Kathrens and a friend of hers joined the meeting. The aide was pretty much silent as he was substituting for the aide who covers this area. Ginger finally said that she knew the senator would not support the bill but if there was a pro-wild horse bill that he would support to please let us know. Goldie, who is from Idaho, said there was strong support for the wild horses in the state. She recounted the Challis roundup, showed a photo of the rangeland in Idaho that the wild horses lived on in July 2009 until they removed 600 of them in August. She told of how the helicopter pilot was not supposed to round up wild horses that were on private ranches but they did anyway.

She complained to the BLM official who said he forgot to tell the pilot to stay away from the private ranches. The next day, the helicopter rounded up the remaining horses from the private ranches and the BLM official said the same thing: I forgot to tell the pilot to stay away from there. The aide just listened.

I wish I had better news but that pretty much covered the day.

Apparently, many wild horse advocates showed up at the BLM advisory board. They were first told they would have 3 min but then were told at the meeting they only had 2 minutes to talk. Many people who came from great distances to speak on behalf of the wild horses were offended that their short time was cut even shorter.

Craig (Downer) only got through one page of his two page statement. Craig said that Larry Johnson, a BLM board member that sees it as his duty to protect big game for hunters, said the wild horses destroy the rangeland. Sweeping statements are untrue and said without considering any of the scientific data that disagrees with his opinion. It seems clear that the BLM advisory board is stacked against the wild horses.

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4 replies »

  1. Is there a list of who is on the BLM board and a way to contact them,politely if we have too, Over and Over and Over? This war has been on going for so long and for the first time I fell very depressed by the outcome that is looming.The horses will loose their freedom and perhaps their lives.We will lose part of our souls!


  2. There are over 325,000 horse owners in the province of Ontario in Canada,that are developing a very negative opinion about the way the Wild Horses and Burros are being treated.While you can argue that we Canadians have no say in your States policies, we can certainly choose where to spend our vacation dollars, in more horse friendly places.


    • Hey Bob,I understand how you feel. However I feel a little chided about your sentiment towards Americans and our wild horse and burro situation..

      You write; “The province of Ontario in Canada,that are developing a very negative opinion about the way the Wild Horses and Burros are being treated.”

      That is a very blanketed statement Bob. I wont pretend to act like I don’t know how you feel. Back in 2004 right through to 2007 I offered my services to the kind people of Alberta Canada to help track down the killers of the Alberta’s wild horses. Unfortunately they ignored my offer..

      I made phone calls and sent emails to Bob Henderson, president of the Wild Horses of Alberta Society and the Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Department and to no avail, I was ignored..

      There are over 2 million horse friendly owners in the
      United States and I believe that I can speak for most of them that we welcome the opinion and voice of the Canadian people. I personally feel that both our Nations could benefit by pooling resources to put an end to the needless slaughter of both Nations wild horses.

      The American Government like all governments have corruption. Even us citizens of this so called
      democracy are muted from having a say in State policies.
      So don’t feel too slighted about that

      From one horse friendly American to a horse friendly Canadian.. You are more than weclome to voice your opinion
      here anytime.

      I will leave you with this.

      With flowing tail, and flying mane,

      Wide nostrils never stretched by pain,

      Mouths bloodless to the bit or rein,

      And feet that iron never shod,

      And flanks unscarred by spur or rod,

      A thousand horse, the wild, the free,
      Like waves that follow o’er the sea,
      Came thickly thundering on…

      ~Lord Byron, XVII, Mazeppa, 1818


  3. Bob, thank you for your entry. You could write a petition, get signatures, and send it to Washington, to as many agencies as might be affected, and to each State tourism agency.

    Please join in! We may be losing without you!


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