Madeleine Pickens Echos Concern over Summit of the Slaughter Attendance
December 1, 2010
Mr. Bob Abbey
Director, Bureau of Land Management
Department of the Interior
Dear Mr. Abbey,
I read with great concern for the program at the upcoming “Summit of the Horse” and that you are noted as one of the speakers. While I recognize that you are obligated to reach out to a wide variety of constituents groups to seek input on the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, the cast of characters attending this event reads more like a who’s who of the pro-slaughter and anti-wild horse community.
It seems that whenever the pro-agriculture groups dangle a dollar in front of individuals or outside groups, they automatically become equine experts, and are first in line to reap the economic benefits of the latest pitch. As a matter of fact, it’s the economics of grazing on public lands that has generated the issue with the overpopulation of wild horses in holding pens and the costs associated with that program. Suggesting giving more money to the pro-agriculture crowd as a solution to the boondoggle is misleading and is sure to fail as it will only create more issues with the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Since the BLM has openly stated that they will not engage in any attempt to euthanize or slaughter wild horses, it is even more interesting that you are participating in a discussion of exactly that issue with the pro-slaughter crowd.
If the “Summit” participants were seriously concerned about what they refer to as the “unwanted” horses driving the demand for slaughter in this country, they would have to look no further than the boutique breeding industry in this country. We are producing somewhere in the range of 250,000 registry horses in this country every year. It is very hard to make the argument that the few thousand new wild horses born each year can match the numbers of breed horses contributing to the overpopulation of horses in this country. The answer to the “unwanted” horse population in this country is to ensure responsible breeding and responsible care, and not driving 10,000 wild horses each year by helicopter into a trap for removal.
One only has to glance at the details of the program and the recurring reference to “feral” horses to understand what the intentions of this group are. I encourage you to read an article that ran in the Reno Gazette Journal recently stating that, “Modern horses evolved here and that’s an adequate reason to consider them a native American species and not ‘invasive’ or ‘introduced feral animals.”Perhaps you could share this conclusion with the participants at the forum.
I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you and others recently to discuss possible solutions to the problems that plague the Wild Horse and Burro Program. I am now engaged in a good faith effort, at a considerable personal cost, to work with BLM personnel in Nevada to develop a new model to keep and manage excess wild horses. As I told you then, leveraging private dollars and creating a pilot program to handle wild horses coming off the ranges in the Western U.S. takes us in a new, positive direction and offers a new vision for an applicable solution. I fear the group gathering at the Summit of the Horse is recycling many of the ideas and actions that have perpetuated the controversial problems we now see in the strategy to gather and hold our wild horses.
I hope you will continue to engage with people of good faith who want to see the Wild Horse and Burro Program managed in a way that all the stakeholders, including the wild horses and their advocates, are content with and will have a say in the final outcome. I am always available if I can be of service in working on this issue for the betterment of all concerned.