CHICAGO, (EWA) – The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA), an umbrella organization comprising over 60 member organizations, announced today it is joining the growing chorus calling for an immediate moratorium on the gathering of wild horses and burros by all government agencies. Already calling for a moratorium are The Cloud Foundation, The Animal Law Coalition and noted expert, wildlife ecologist, Craig Downer and Mustang author Deanne Stillman.
On October 7, Ken Salazar, head of the Department of Interior (DOI) and Bob Abbey, head of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), publicly admitted the deficiencies in the current management of the Wild Horse and Burro Program in announcing the development of a new plan. “The Salazar plan would simply throw the herds off of their historical Western lands set aside for them in the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act and put them into long term holding facilities which it renames “refuges” explains EWA’s Vicki Tobin.
In an August letter to Bob Abbey, Congressmen Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) outlined the deficiencies in the current program over the past several years. To date, none of the deficiencies have been corrected and until range studies can be completed, there is no scientific evidence justifying the removal of wild horses and burros from the land. Following a GAO report in 2008 that found that the BLM did not have adequate funding to support the estimated 37,000 horses they had in holding pens, Congress generously increased their budget.
Instead of using the funding for its intended purpose, the BLM has intensified round-ups and has zeroed out many herds while leaving the remaining herds genetically unviable as a result of reduced numbers and mares that were given birth control. The increased round-ups are coming at time when there are more wild horses in holding pens than on the open range at a cost of millions of dollars to tax payers. “The huge number of horses being gathered is effectively guaranteeing a new and worse budget crisis in the immediate future” says EWA’s John Holland.
As long suspected by many, the DOI/BLM is on a course to exterminate America’s wild horses and burros. Cameron Bryce, a BLM ecologist was quoted in a recent follow up to George Knapp’s KLAS-TV investigative report, Stampede to Oblivion as stating “Wild horses do not belong in western ecosystems,” and that “The 1971 Horse and Burro Act was based on emotions, not science.”
In a comparative analysis of free-roaming wild horses and burros in relation to habitat, wildlife and livestock populations, wild horses and burros populations pale in comparison. In most cases, the wild horses and burros are being removed in record numbers with no scientific evidence justifying the need for these removals. According to the BLM schedule, another 12,000 wild horses and burros are targeted for removal in 2010.
The cries of Americans to their elected officials, the White House and the DOI/BLM remain unanswered. Removing horses without scientific justification is in violation of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act. The 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act is a law and Americans are demanding that instead of ignoring the law, the BLM enforce it. An immediate moratorium on round-ups must be issued until the range studies are completed and the discrepancies are resolved.