Horse News

Congress Must Act Now to Prevent Reckless Government Agency from Imperiling Survival of America’s Wild Horses and Burros

Press Release from The Animal Welfare Institute

Washington, D.C. – The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), along with leading Members of Congress, numerous wild horse advocacy organizations and the majority of Americans, is exceedingly frustrated with the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) gross mismanagement of America’s wild horses and burros.  In a recent ad in the Washington, D.C., newspaper, The Hill, AWI called on Congress to take swift and decisive action to prevent the BLM from “managing” our nation’s wild horses into extinction.

“AWI has long been critical of the BLM’s inability to responsibly manage wild horses on the range, and the agency’s recent actions have amplified concern for the future of America’s wild horses,” said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for AWI.  “BLM’s more aggressive campaign of rounding up and warehousing wild horses began under the Obama administration and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.  Recent reports of horses dying during roundups due to broken necks and legs, sloughed hooves, and most recently water intoxication (allowing the horses to drink a toxic amount of water following a strenuous run), are unconscionable.”

Thankfully, several members of Congress are stepping up to defend these national treasures.  House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) have led the way in holding the BLM accountable for  its actions.  They sponsored the Restore our American Mustangs Act (ROAM Act), which passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin last year and have just sent a bipartisan letter signed by 52 of their colleagues to Secretary Salazar.  The letter raises serious questions about the recent tragic deaths of several wild horses and addresses the dire need for an independent analysis of the wild horse and burro program by the National Academy of Sciences.  As stated in the bipartisan letter, “We are concerned by the inability of your agency to acknowledge these disturbing outcomes, change what seems to be deeply flawed policy, and better manage the gathers so as to prevent the unnecessary suffering and death of these federally protected animals.”  AWI shares these concerns.

Yet despite all of this public and Congressional attention, the BLM continues to recklessly round up and remove thousands of wild horses from their legally mandated rangeland. In fact, Secretary Salazar has proposed spending millions of taxpayer dollars to build additional long term holding facilities in the Midwest and East to facilitate even more wild horse removals, which will add to the staggering 38,000 animals already in confinement.

Ever defiant, just last week, BLM Director Bob Abby sent a letter to all Members of Congress decrying increased public scrutiny of the wild horse and burro program.  In this letter Director Abby wrote, “Some wild horse activists are waging a campaign in the court of public opinion, aimed at stopping the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from gathering wild horses and burros from overpopulated herds on Western public rangelands.”

“The Obama administration came into office promising greater transparency and accountability, which is entirely contrary to the BLM’s preference to keep its abuse of wild horses and burros behind closed doors,” contends D.J. Schubert, AWI’s wildlife biologist.  “If the BLM is convinced that its wild horse management program is essential for the good of the horses and the land, it should provide the public with reasonable opportunities to observe its roundups – the good, bad, and ugly – instead of complaining when advocates expose the program’s inherent cruelties and deficiencies,” adds Schubert.

AWI asserts that, like its sister Department of Interior agency, the former Minerals Management Service (MMS), the integrity of the BLM’s wild horse and burro program has been compromised by its relationships with special interests that occupy or use wild horse and burro range.  A few thousand wild horses are being blamed for every natural and unnatural problem facing the Western ranges, while ranchers, oil and gas companies, and other commercial entities abuse the public’s lands with inadequate oversight.  The BLM’s obvious favoritism toward these more politically connected and financially lucrative industries continues to jeopardize the survival of America’s last wild horses and burros.

“Based upon its record, it is no wonder the BLM balks whenever the demand for genuine accountability is discussed,” states Heyde.  “While the BLM has repeatedly ignored the public’s demands, we hope that the requests of Members of Congress will not be so easily dismissed.”

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18 replies »

  1. This is great. And I absolutely want to be able to print the cartoon which almost says it all! It is missing a helicopter, a pipeline and an open pit gold mine. Who did this art? This is wonderful, RT.


    • Pretty strongly worded letter. I don’t think there’s much wiggle room in it, although the DOI/BLM have proven themselves master wigglers. My Representative, Manual Lujan, didn’t sign. I get letters (not replies to petitions, but replies to my personal letters) from his office (by staff, I’m sure. They bear “his signature”, but heaven knows who signed.) that he’s “monitoring” both the wild horse & burro situation and the slaughter issue. The time for MONITORING is long over. It’s time for action!

      Happy to see Rep. Ed Markey (D., MA) on the list. He represents the MA 7th District, where I was born, and chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He’s the guy holding BP’s feet to the fire in the Gulf and I think he’d LOVE to nail the DOI/BLM.

      Westerners may say Markey’s an East Coast Liberal who knows nothing about the wild horse & burro situation, but I’m sure he and others recognize a disfunctional agency/program when they see, not to mention animal abuse. Long story short – we need a “big tent” to turn this around – “lattes” be damned!


  2. It looks as though it was all representatives that signed–no senators. I knew that
    Dennis Kucinich would sign. He has a record of standing up to bullies. I read in a newspaper article that he had to wear a bullet proof vest for a while.


  3. Poster definitely needs 2 hell icopters hovering overhead. In fact, the hell icopter should be the WH&B program’s new logo.


    • Sandra — I just can’t watch it. My stomach is a little queasy this morning as it is…
      Can you summarize? Is it SSDD? (Same S*&# Different Day?) Sue still have hoof in mouth disease? Or are we treated to something entirely new and even more bizarre?


  4. Thoroughly enjoyed the article and am so glad to have observers at these “gathers,”….of course more transparency is needed as concerns the BLM, not only as to the “gathers,” but to their entire operations as well. I for one would like to see some REAL evidence of the conditions of the lands they are claiming are not suitable for wild horse (and burro) range. Seems to me an independant study would be nice… hard could it be to obtain? What would it take? A petition to Congress from one or two of our politician friends? No doubt in my mind if a real independant rangeland study could be had,….it would show the world what liars they are.


  5. As observed and stated before on this blog and other sites, DOI/USDA will do ANYTHING the horse-haters want and NOTHING for advocates and supporters of the wild equines.


  6. This is an outrage I am very appalled Obama you need to fix this no one cares about wind turbine who gives a damn about that I’m a horse lover and why did you elect Ken Salazar as the Bureau of Land Management horrible he doesn’t care about wild animals only cares about technology and that’s ridiculous I don’t know what your perspective is but you’ve got it in this have Congress say no to slaughter cuz I don’t approve of that this is ridiculous leave the wild mustangs alone I voted for you but clearly that was a mistake .
    I don’t know what the criteria is of doing this but please leave the wild mustangs alone the BLM is bad news please eliminate them say no to slaughter house that’s what I say I’m a horse over now. Horse over please stop this madness you’re destroying America’s most magnificent creatures like the bald eagle which represents freedom not fair and I grew up with Horse and I work at a horse stable please stop this from happening I care about the Mustangs


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