Plan, likewise, endorsed by HfH Advisory Council
Washington, DC (January 11, 2011) . . . As Congress grapples with federal budget shortages, a group of prominent environmental, horse advocacy and humane organizations has joined forces to urge the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to postpone a large-scale wild horse roundup scheduled to begin next week in the Antelope Complex, a 1.3 million acre public lands area in northeastern Nevada.
In a sign on letter to BLM director Bob Abbey, the organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Western Watersheds Project, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), PBS wildlife filmmaker Ginger Kathrens and The Cloud Foundation, and others are urging the BLM instead to pursue a plan offered by businesswoman and philanthropist Madeleine Pickens to construct holding facilities for the horses on private lands adjacent to their home range. The proposal would prevent the waste of tax dollars incurred by shipping the horses thousands of miles to off-the-range holding facilities.
Mrs. Pickens’ proposal, made on behalf of her Saving America’s Mustangs Foundation, would save the government an estimated million dollars or more, while protecting the 2,000 wild horses scheduled for removal from the trauma of shipment to holding facilities far from their homeland. Mrs. Pickens is in the process of developing a wild horse eco-sanctuary in the Antelope Complex.
The letter urges the BLM to postpone the roundup for a few months while Saving America’s Mustangs builds state-of-the-art holding facilities for the horses. It states:
“The BLM’s plan to proceed with a late-January gather in the Antelope Complex makes no fiscal or operational sense. Antelope horses will be captured during treacherous winter conditions and shipped thousands of miles to the Midwest, instead of being gathered at a safer time of year and held on adjacent private lands that will eventually become part of larger wild horse eco-sanctuary.
The BLM’s refusal to postpone the roundup and pursue Mrs. Pickens’ alternative directly contradicts the agency’s stated commitment to pursuing public/private partnerships and alternatives to expensive off-the-range holding of wild horses.
The letter notes that any concerns about future emergency water sources should be eased by the fact that there has been no livestock grazing on the public grazing allotments associated with Mrs. Pickens’ ranches since June 2010.
In addition to the aforementioned, other groups signing the letter include: Return to Freedom, Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, In Defense of Animals, the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros and the Wyoming Wild Horse Coalition.
The sign on effort was spearheaded by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a coalition of more than 40 horse advocacy, conservation, animal welfare and public interest organizations. The coalition is calling for:
* A suspension of roundups in all but verifiable emergency situations while the entire BLM wild horse program undergoes objective and scientific review;
* Higher Appropriations Management Levels (AML) for wild horses on horse 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.