Hand Picked Panel Distorts Truth to Favor BLM’s Cruelty
WASHINGTON, D.C. Dec. 3, 2010 – Today, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) – a coalition of 40 leading public interest, environmental, and humane organizations – criticized and labeled as “biased and politically motivated” the issuance of an Interior Department–Bureau of Land Management (BLM) report on the treatment of wild horses in government roundups. Its release coincides with Congress finalizing of 2011 fiscal legislation in which BLM’s wild horse budget will be allocated.
The report (“Independent Designated Observer Pilot Program, October 2010”) glosses over the humane issues that have triggered Congressional concern. It was created by a hand-picked organization, the American Horse Preservation Association which is led by BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board’s chair Robyn Lohnes. The four individuals employed to write the report have backgrounds in agriculture and domestic horses, but lack hands on wild horse experience. The majority have been vocal advocates of horse slaughter.
“This biased report is an attempt to deflect increased scrutiny on and public opposition to the BLM’s inhumane wild horse roundups,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC Campaign Director. “The report’s authors do not have any wild horse handling experience and its conclusions are not credible and lack scientific validity.”
She noted that in July, more than 54 members of Congresses wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing their concerns and calling for a halt to the round ups. Department spokespersons have admitted (video available here) that they have a difficult time explaining the agency’s treatment of wild horses to the public, and as a result, the BLM has severely restricted public observation at most roundups this year.
“The Interior Department’s decision to work with one organization rather than with the diverse and numerous organizations that have hands-on experience with wild horses, outlines the intention behind and problems with the report,” Roy continued. “We find it highly objectionable and offensive that the agency is using one organization as a voice for ‘humane observation’ when there are other organizations and individuals better qualified to address this issue.”
Many findings in the report defy credibility, including:
* The helicopters used to stampede horses into BLM trap pens are “reasonably quiet, no louder than a riding mower.”
* BLM and contractors “showed ability to review, assess and adapt procedures to ensure the care and well being of animals to the best of their ability” with regard to the water intoxication deaths of 13 wild horses, who had been stampeded in summer desert heat in Nevada. By contrast, an equine veterinarian with 24 years experience reviewed the circumstances of that situation and concluded that the BLM’s actions constituted, “negligent management” and a “lapse of professional judgment.”
Experts with wild horse experience have reached a different conclusion regarding BLM wild horse roundups. One of them, Dr. Jay Kirkpatrick, director of science and conservation biology at ZooMontana, in Billings, Montana told National Geographic in 2009:
“I’m not a bunny hugger, but I’ll never attend another gather as long as I live. They’re flat-out inhumane.”
Kirkpatrick has spent more than 30 years studying wild horses and developing successful fertility control programs for the animals.
In addition, the Internet is populated with video, photographs and eyewitness accounts of the trauma, injury and suffering wild horses are subjected to during the course of roundups and capture. A few such incidents include:
* Owyhee roundup: the government contractor shot a mare and foal on the range without reporting these deaths until after public member found the dead bodies
* Silver King roundup: contractor actions caused stallion death. After the contractor tied a saddle horse to the pen where a stallion and his mare were held; the stallion broke his neck when charging the pen where the saddle horse was tied
* Calico roundup: foals were chased by helicopters for so long, their hooves were destroyed (hoof slough) and the foals were killed
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Supported by a coalition of over 40 organizations, its grassroots campaign seeks:
* A suspension of roundups in all but verifiable emergency situations while the entire BLM wild horse program undergoes objective and scientific review;
* Higher Appropriate Management Levels (AML) for wild horses on those rangelands designated for them;
* Implementation of in-the-wild management, which would keep wild horses on the range and save taxpayers millions annually by avoiding the mass removal and stockpiling wild horses in government holding facilities