Horse News

Wild Horse Advocates Call for Moratorium on Deadly BLM Round Ups

Press Release from The Equine Welfare Alliance

CHICAGO, (EWA) – Wild horse advocates attending the much anticipated Bureau of Land Management (BLM) workshop on June 14 and 15 found the meeting a marked improvement from their past experiences with BLM, but still far from comforting.

The meeting was announced by BLM director Bob Abbey who promised a new direction in the management of America’s wild horses. But distrust between the advocates, ranchers and the BLM run deep and have grown deeper as BLM has ramped up the removal of mustangs from the range under Obama’s Department of Interior (DOI) director Ken Salazar.

Earlier attempts to launch Salazar’s plan to neuter the wild herds and move them to “refuges” in mid-western states had been met with derision and anger among advocates who dubbed the concept the “Salazoo Plan”.

Now, with Salazar facing ever growing criticism for his abject failure to bring about promised reforms in his Minerals Management Service (MMS) and for the unprecedented disaster in the Gulf, BLM appears to be taking a more conciliatory stance toward the issue. But BLM’s claims about the wild horse population have proven no more trustworthy than the MMS and BP claims about the volume of the spill.

Arising from the meetings was the consensus among advocates that until current range assessments and an independent population count are performed, round-ups should cease. They argue that six months or one year will not create a crisis and will give the BLM time to move forward with accurate scientific data.

The cattle rancher contingent attending sang a repetitious song of removing the wild horses. Privately owned livestock on public land already number in the millions yet stockmen continue to ask for the removal of the few thousand remaining horses. Their comments consisted largely of the mantra that wild horses were overpopulated and that advocates were being emotional.

Advocates countered that the leasing fees of only $1.35 per cow and calf that ranchers pay are inadequate to even perform environmental assessments of the land they lease. Subsidies for the privately owned livestock on public lands cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year and the proposed “refuges” would cost the taxpayers even more money.

On the positive side, Abbey had set ground rules for the planning that stated sending the horses to slaughter “was not on the table”. True to his word, when pro-slaughter radical extremist Wyoming Rep. Sue Wallis rose to propose they be slaughtered, she was promptly squelched.

Equine advocates came prepared with suggestions, comments and recommendations backed up by facts, figures and data. Cloud Foundation CEO, Ginger Kathrens, reached out for common ground to build upon. She suggested additional breakout sessions before any plans were developed.

Advocates were also encouraged when the Board indicated two open positions would be filled with individuals for animal welfare and a public representative with equine knowledge. In the past “welfare” advisers have often been handpicked to represent BLM’s views, so judgment will be reserved until the individuals are named.

The meeting came in the wake of the disastrous round-up of Nevada’s Calico mustangs which resulted in deaths of over 140 of the horses and foals. Foals had their hooves run-off and the exhausted mares aborted foals from being stampeded over frozen rocky ground by roaring helicopters.

Disjointedly, the board’s Larry Johnson was clearly out of touch with current conditions. Johnson continually referred to outdated Animal Management Levels (AML) and other erroneous information.

On Monday, Johnson commented that the issues at Calico were the fault of the lawsuit litigants and advocates for delaying the round-up into late January, when in fact, the round-up started on December 28. During the public comments, one advocate suggested that Johnson resign and the room exploded in applause.

There remains a significant split on the mechanism and scope of the Salazar plan. As presented by BLM, the herds will not be productive and will die out in zoo-like settings. Advocates suggested using public lands where herds had been zeroed out so the family and social structure of the herds could be maintained. Naturalist Craig Downer presented a plan in which BLM would be restricted to minimal contact with certain herds that were to be left alone in the wild without human contact.

Although there appeared to be some collaboration between the two sides, the clock is ticking against America’s wild horses. Moreover, BLM birth control policy is leaving many of the herds genetically bankrupt. A plan that preserves the herds at manageable levels must be developed and implemented before the last of our wild horses and burros are rounded-up and become a closed chapter in our American heritage.

Video of BLM Conference courtesy of the Cloud Foundation

Public Workshop:  Monday Morning (HERE)      Monday Afternoon (HERE)

Advisory Board Meeting:  Tuesday Morning (HERE)     Tuesday Afternoon (HERE)

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 110 member organizations. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.

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22 replies »

  1. Moratorium is the only answer at this point. I also urge everyone to write, call, email everyone that the Calico horses not be dispersed, gelded, pzp’d and and transported around the country until they do a scientific (independent) count of actual wild horses still left on the range. The BLM is not giving a date for the census because they are fearful of the public’s reaction when we find out the truth that they zero’d out this vast area of wild horses.


    • Precious Laura,

      I don’t know where you’re headed, but, for heaven’s sake, try to get a couple of days rest if you can manage it.

      Be safe,



    • Thank you for devoting your life to our wild ones!

      it is heartbreaking the horses ask for our help, the horses know we are trying.

      The BLM also tries their hardest and fastest to exterminate them.

      Those helicopters have to stop! Can’t understand why the abuse and damage done by using aircraft is not noticed by a man like Obama. He has the power to stop them!
      even if Obama is not experienced with any animals, he has commen sense and I wish he would USE it. when is he going to realize he is snookered by his DOI good old boys.


  2. How about issuing a call to president obama to attend one of these roundups? He should see for himself, the horses in the wild ,the horses in short term holding and the horses held in hospice pastures in the mid west, where as Larry Johnson pointed out-we do not need to purchase the land-because we are just waiting for them to die off-then problem solved


    • Sandra, I do wish he would do that. Things have changed and are more complicated for Presidents since Roosevelt’s day when he took his trek in relative secrecy.

      Obama would cause such a ruckus of reporters and looky-loos I don’t know if that would be a good thing. But he could certainly send 2 or 3 of his trusted staffers with their significant others, undercover incognito vacation style, to report back to him. That might not look good either. On my.

      Michelle Obama has started a children’s effort that includes getting kids out doors and into all kinds of environments. I wonder if she has been reading some of our e-mails and this is her way of responding? Just hopeful guessing. I’m going to support her effort.

      I think for all the delays in getting to campaign promises, with the new appointments of “house cleaners” in MMS and the banking mess, now this Michelle thing, I really hope he stays in. My intuition tells me that Salazar was given a task and he failed. Obama now sees that and we are going to see a much different administration going forward – at least that is my hope. But there is still no getting around all the damage that has been done for so many years since Carter, on all sides – pretty overwhelming and not quick easy fixes. Maybe even Carter and before – maybe the oil spill is Nixon and Clintons fault! I voted for both of them.

      Tad off topic here – BP’s worries about their own employees out of work with the moretorium – are you kidding me? Hey TONY, PUT THEM TO WORK ON THE CLEAN UP! How the heck are CEO brains networked? Is there some late night $99.99 in four easy payment infomercial “How to Become Stupid Enough to be a CEO or Top Executive and Rake in Millions of Bonus Dollars While You Sink The Company Without Risk To You Because You Can Just Declare Bankruptcy and Then Move on to Another!”


      • I agree with you, by god i voted for change, and change I will get..I know exactly how this works..the president gave him one order and that was..get energy fasttracked..Salazar took a look at bushs plan to remove the horses and thought thats working we will just pacify everyone-change the name-call them ‘preserves” like we are really preserveing them and full speed ahead..the President needs to take a look at Salazars efforts in a new light..I did not vote to continue failed policies of the previous administration


  3. If I were one of the 97% of cattle ranchers that do not get the beneifits that the 3% of wellfare recipients get, I would be more than a little miffed.

    I don’t mind paying wellfare and Social Security and all the safety nets, when they are needed. But cattle are overproduced – most are exported. Then we get imported beef from South America.

    I mean really, what the heck is gong on? Just moving beef around from one country, while another moves it again? I would be interested if anyone exports beef to South America.

    Besides cattle and sheep both are non-native, invasive, exotic, noxious, destructive, methane gas producing creatures. They are by and large one of greatest single producers of gasses in the world that contribute to increasing CO2, about 30%, way more than our automobiles at 12% (did not keep the links, and hope I got close to the actual percentages here – using my memory – bad).

    Anyone remember Bush was going to get his scientists to create a pill to reduce cow farting?

    You know, methane gas can be converted to alternate fuels. Premerin horse methods – inhumane!.



    If you have read this secret internal document obtained by the FOI act reread it in light of the things discussed at the WH&B meeting in Denver, spaying of mares, stallion mare ratios ect..this document is a blueprint for what they are doing..don’t think because congress shot them down on euthanasia of healthy horses this document is obsolete,,Remember these are the same psycopaths in charge who produced this document..I believe it was in the first document- entitled meeting minutes- the question was asked ‘how will the public respond to this(killing)..the next question..”do we care”?


    • What really irks me is that if that had put 1/2 as much energy and time in 2008.. into a range management plan..we would’nt be having this discussion


      • Exactly! But don’t stop at 2008. Try 1972; the year after Wild Horse Annie’s bill passed, they passed the first of numerous revisions and regulations that have only taken us all further away from our initial goals to further their own agendas!

        I have to HARP on Sue Wallis a moment, because I’m not reading any outrage over one of her statements.

        She said something like “the public will not tolerate the horses dying naturally on the range”

        First what public is that? We are struggling to get even the slightest increase in public awareness of wild horses in the first place. The PUBLIC is not thinking or caring about this topic, and current events are making this challenge even harder.

        Further, what Public, even if they do know about it, are consumed, or even consider for a moment, with keeping any wild animal from the perils of nature? That is ludicrous even beyond the ridiculous! I don’t think there are words actually yet in our dictionaries for this one.

        I wish we could get an article in a neutral Newpaper that has a good blog following. I would suggest Huffington Post, but they are percieved as left and Obama suporters, whch they are not, they are a little left, but they post all sorts of articles from all sources. An unpredjuced, unbiased, and FACT filled article of Sue Wallis side, BLM, then our side, cattle welfare side, all the dollar facts in some chart too to back it all up and then let the blogs roll. Title tied in with WELLFARE and ECOLOGY – REAL DOLLARS AND CENTS. If you have read any of the wage arguments on line lately you know this will grab a great deal of attention. Maybe its too complicated, but I have seen some posts here who have readily boiled topics down to one or two paragraphs, not like my novellets. I have written to Robert Redford about this (yeh, as if he will read that!), as he is getting more vocal lately about the slowness of our current administration (which, I predict we are going to see a turn around like none ever before), about the economy, corruption, taxdollar waste and the environment – he could maybe do this justice with the correct lead in. Could George Knapp be unbiased enough to do this, or who else?


  5. Hey Roxy, just read your post proposing wild horse hunting on another blog, so how can you say anything credible for or against anything again? just wondering? because I can’t speak for other advocates, but this alternative to roundups just isn’t flying with me, nor are any criticisms from you about Sue Wallis or anyone else,


  6. Jan, I don’t have answer for it. It came up recently from a pro slaughter bloger here and we did not answer. It has never never answered in a hard core realist manner. I think it should be answered some way. There is for sure no collective answer, if wild horses are in fact wild animals, “wildlife”, to separate horses from all other wild animals in this regard. We want them treated uniquikly – I agree – but what if there is an event that has to have intervention – just call out the helicopters again?
    Just looking for a way to argue the opposite and providing a back up plan that is more humane than roundups. Its there, on the table if never used, all the better. Or just continue not answering.

    If I had come on here asking questions and no one had answered me or engaged me – adios. I see posts all the time that no one answers and I never see their name again. We are gaining mementum (dang oil spill is not only horrid, but also distracting!) and we are going to have floods of people coming here sincerely wanting to find the truth, not all cattle or pro slaughter shills, and they are going to bring all kinds of perceptions.


    • DAH on me – here is a good answer. I think? But would not have come to me without examining this recurring issue, and we can all use this from now on:

      Who wants to hunt a stationary animal that is grazing? Its the chase, the trek through the terrain, the animals instinct against the human witt that is appealing to hunters. Otherwise go to the rifle range and shoot at paper bulls eyes.

      Even shooting bufflo running along side a running train back in the day provided some adventure.

      I really don’t undestand why we even brought cattle, we had all those buffalo. Lets not get started on that though – history.


  7. The solution to the Wild Horse “overpopulation” is to RESTORE the ecosystem, PREDATOR, PRAY balances out. Of course the BLM and their brother, Fish&Game, “managed” to scew that up. As far as dealing with “surplus” domestic horses? Tougher regulations to control the Horse breeding industry, esp. TB, QH, and Arab, these are the three, that produce the most “surplus”! Instead of Slaughter houses, how about Euthanasia centers, that euthanise horses and cremate them on site. This is by far the most humane way of parting from an old friend, and or from the ones that are hurt or suffering. There are Humane solutions out there for those who truly CARE!


  8. The only thing I want to add is this, I would rather these majestic, magnificent, beautiful & noble wild horses, die a natural death, in the wild, in FREEDOM, than to have them die in captivity, suffering from stress, depression, disease, malnutrition, & from broken spirits!! I WISH Michelle Obama COULD do something to help these wild horses, but, she’s NOT “Wild Horse Annie”, unfortunately! The children of America, MAYBE, could get something done, they might just get noticed, & bring attention to our wild mustangs & their plight, & their very fight for survival! I could even see a humane, occasional needed roundup, to thin some herds as needed, but, then you release ALL those not adoptable, you DON’T keep them until they become extinct. I think the annual roundup in Chincoteague, of the wild Assateague ponies is an example??


    • It may be the place my head is in right now. If I were an older wild horse I would rather be shot on the spot than suffer through a roundup and holding for the rest of my life. It is the suffering, you see it in their eyes, their bowed heads, every inch of their body language. I cannot stand the cruelty. Just as cruel is the skewing of sex ratios – ever heard Gingers account of that?

      Yes, perhaps a few “well done” roundups, but even then, as you say what to do with the unadoptable – they must be returned, geldng is ok with me, if not a popular position. The very survival of the ones left depends on that knowledge. Or never rounded up in the first place – some other “humane” option MUST be found! They haunt me day and night, as they are living it day and night.

      Are we really going to get tham all released home any time soon? I bow to you heros that are beleiving and working toward that! My Polyiana has left the stage, only temporarily.


      • Roxy, I am in the same place; after reading the latest BLM updates, gelding the older stallions, 3 more deaths, I despair of any of the horses seeing freedom again. I want to know what is happening with the Soldier Meadows sanctuary and Pickens plan. BLM asked for partnerships, they got some plans, and so far, nothing is being done. Very disheartening.


  9. I just sent Gene Seidlitz a short letter questioning the carnage of June 18th and criticizing the report’s callousness.

    My letter to Mr. Seidlitz, with the link to the report

    was also copied to (The Washington Post) (The Atlanta Journal)


    • Janet, pretty sad isn’t it, I will follow your lead and send a letter along to those as well, I can’t do it right now though, it wouldn’t be very polite.


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