Horse News

Congressmen Send Letter to Salazar to Halt Costly and Deadly BLM Wild Horse Stampedes, AGAIN

Grijalva Urges Int. Sec. Salazar to Halt Horse Spaying Plan, Stop Roundups Pending Completion of Nat. Academy of Sciences Review

photo by Terry Fitch

Washington, D.C.– Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar urging an immediate halt to a new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plan to spay and geld wild horses, which could lead to the brutal death of many horses and contribute to their eventual extinction in the United States. The letter, co-signed by 64 other Members of Congress, outlines concerns with BLM wild horse oversight practices and highlights the extremity of the new spaying plan.

The plan to spay and geld horses to create non-reproducing herds was recently selected for the first time as the management tool for the White Mountain and Little Colorado herds in southern Wyoming.

“To accomplish the goal of creating a non-reproducing herd, the BLM proposes to geld stallions and also spay wild horse mares,” the letter reads in part. “Both procedures are dangerous for wild animals, but the spaying of female horses is a practice not even recommended for domestic mares, let alone wild ones.”

As an alternative, one of the methods emphasized in the letter is immunocontraception, a tool endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States. The letter points out that the BLM has a history of inhumane treatment of wild horses and burros and needs to improve its overall management practices. The holding of wild horses throughout the West cost the federal government $36.9 million in fiscal year 2010.

“We are also concerned about BLM’s overall commitment to herd conservation and stewardship,” the letter reads. “BLM budget allocation to census operations and actual on the ground range monitoring was a paltry $1 million last year, while roundup operations alone constituted over $7.7 million. It appears that BLM is focusing their efforts on eradication of wild horses and burros, rather than actual management and monitoring on the range.”

Grijalva has been actively pursuing horse safety oversight for years, especially in his capacity as ranking member of the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee. His earlier efforts and recommendations led to an ongoing review of BLM policies by the National Academy of Sciences, which is scheduled to be completed early next year.

In the letter that initiated that study, Grijalva noted that such a study could lead to “a clear determination of the most accurate, science-based methodologies to estimate wild horse and burro populations, provide an assessment of Appropriate Management Levels based on the goal of maintaining sustainable herds and provide an assessment of practical, effective, nonlethal and publicly acceptable management alternatives to current BLM policies.”

Today’s letterargues that the study must be completed before BLM officials waste more taxpayer dollars on inefficient roundups. The full letter is reviewable at

36 replies »

  1. I don’t know that Representative Grijalva reads the blog on ‘Straight form the Horse’s Heart’ but if he would ever catch something off the grapevine, I would also ask for an independent audit of how many Captives are actually in Holding.

    Those of us who pay attention (and that would be all who advocate for wild horses and burros) know that the purported 39,948 listed in Holding for June, 2011 are the culmination of NUMBERS (not necessarily living ANIMALS) of the Unadopted, gathered and sent to Holding over the last 10 years. And while that NUMBER is certainly shocking to anyone responsible for handing out Appropriations, given the less than strict adherence to accounting of any kind, we believe monies appropriated for the WH&B Program are leaching out somewhere other than Short Term and Maintenance facilities; it certainly isn’t going into research or field study.

    It’s difficult to believe so many animals could continue to survive, given this branch of the agency’s lack of interest in these animals as anything other than an annoyance on the range or a burden in captivity.


    • The time for asking is over it will get no where, Its tome for DEMANDING an Accountability , …..for a Outside Count


  2. This is good. It should go out again. And again until there is some acknowledgment of this crisis. Although I liked Cohen’s article in The Atlantic, I think it lacked the urgency we are all feeling.

    This is the gathers completed by July 2011 figures. There are some very disturbing numbers here. I see 99 death for the Adobe Town/salt Wells horses.
    I have never heard that. Other ‘Population’ info for numbers on the range when the roundups are done are very weird.

    Also, there has been the completion of roundups at Confusion and Conger HMAs in SW Utah. BLM Press Release;

    Not on the schedule, no comments and no new EA. Cancelled and postponed over the past year. Cattoors did this. BLM did it behind the backs of the American people. mar


    • Everyone, be sure to snag such reports with PDF as soon as they come out and file them away for later use as the BLM numbers on these reports changes as often as the moon phases do.

      Thanks…I got these.


    • Mar, great catch. If it wasn’t on the schedule, then I wonder how the public knew to attend? To quote BLM’s Gus Warr: “”We were able to have many individual from the public observe the gathers and be educated about the program.”

      I can guess who the “public” was. More of the same from BLM.


      • Remember when the Independent Observers made their “recommendations” about parking? There was an aerial photo of a crowded dirt parking area … 50 vehicles at the very least. The vast majority of those were huge, white SUVs and pickups … the kind the BLM uses. Wonder what these parking lots looked like.


    • thanks Mar, good finds. I’m going to have to go back and analyze this and try to pull up other reports I might have to see how far off their published numbers are from report to report.


    • Winter Ridge which BLM seems to use as a sort of addition for roundup funds and is postponed again on this Press Release for ‘July 2011’ I think is meant to read ‘July 2012’.

      Laura and I visited Winter Ridge Memorial Day weekend 2010 and the gas platforms are all over and the closest horses are on reservation land to the East. Winter Ridge has not had horses for maybe a decade or close to it. There may be horses ‘off HMA’ in the areas there but I bet there were stealth roundups sometime back. There is also the old rumor that they say is true that Utah BLM ran horses off a cliff. I am not trying to be dramatic but it seems it did happen and outraged people enough to make Utah BLM ‘back off’ altho’ I do not think BLM ever backs off anything.


  3. These wild horses are America’s heritage and we, as visitors to your country, love and respect them.

    However we do NOT respect what Salazar and the BLM is doing to them –
    the horses are on PUBLIC land and should stay free for our generation and future generations to come. They should NOT be rounded up, put in ghastly ‘holding-pens’ with many being ultimately slaughtered. How can this be allowed – LISTEN to the people in your country who care!

    Your cattle ranchers should be made to fence their own private land to keep their cows on their land, and the horses will stay on the public land. The BLM are liars, the round-ups are cruel and belligerent; and the word is spreading.


  4. Did Rep Grijalva hand carry a copy of that letter to Salazar’s boss…..President Obama? Salazar is just going to throw it in the circular file cabinet (aka trashcan). But I appreciate the effort….again.


    • Quite likely. The letter ought to be plastered in the newspapers and passed to every member of congress too. I think Salazar has made his bias plenty clear on the subject.


      • I don’t know that it is “quite likely”…but I am severely uneducated regarding legislative and executive branch protocol. I hope he did the letter with the intention that it would be considered by the White House.

        As to Salazar bias…AMEN! I’m am still angry and dumbfounded that this man still holds his position after the MMS scandal (not much in change save for name change and Deepwater Horizon). I just don’t understand why Obama is expending this political capital on this guy, in these times of trouble; must be Salazar’s connections.


      • Its a shame we don’t have the finances to run that in a full page ad in all the major newspapers across the US. I appreciate Grijalva’s strong support but his last letter was completely ignored. Seems there should be some manner in which they could present this in an audience to the President. MAKE him listen, as he has been completely absent from any acknowledgement of the wh&b tragic situation. Wish I could superglue his pants to a chair and make him watch the footage of roundups and of the continued horrors of horses going to slaughter. Guess I should say “equines” after all they shoot donkeys too.


  5. Congressman Grijalva, is a great friend(has been for years.) to all Wild Mustangs, I commend him for his heroic Method, it is proven fact repetition is the only way to reach people who do not listen…………………………………. Mother Nature does it all the time and she is always on her mark,” Bravo Congressman Grijalva !”


  6. These people are up to their necks in quicksand. They have made their deals and they all know TOO MUCH. They also know that they are very expendable. It is probably much the same as trying to leave the Mob. They will hang on to that sinking ship because they know the sharks are waiting for them. They made their choices. All of the powers of GOOD are on our side. We have to keep pushing forward and NOT let up.


  7. I worked with the 11 congress offices assigned to me for 2 weeks to get those signatures. Their staffs are not the easiest to wrestle down—and they are VERY distracted with the Congressional budget battle coming to a head on AUG 2. So, the most important strategy was to couch the facts of the problem in financial terms, that the program is admittedly “broken” and a terrible waste of taxpayer funds. With that approach I got 6 YES’s, 3 NO’s, and 2 ‘would not commit’. Even still, I do not have great confidence in this effort because the BLM seems to have many powerful corporate minions pushing for their cause, and the Humane Society makes excuses as to why they are unable to publicize the renegade behavior of their self-righteous partner in crime.


    • Laura I have been saying this over and over until I am ready to scream. The BLM, SOI and the President do not give a rat’s ass about wild horses and burros or any other form of wildlife. The only way we are going to be able to do anything is with our vote. It is as simple as that; if they think they are going to lose their seat in the Senate or the House, then they will care. We have somehow got to come up with a voice united enough to get their attention. It is maddening and depressing.


  8. Part of the problem, as I understand it, is that the Cabinet Secretaries have too much power. Once appointed, the only way to get them out, is to force them to resign. When push comes to shove, that CAN happen.


  9. In regards to the above story about the spaying and castrating of the horses that are planned to be rounded up in southern Wyoming. I have seen news reports on one of our states, (Wyoming), TV stations and in my local newspaper dealing with the “lawsuit filed by Environmental groups” to block the BLM plan to roundup the horses. The main point to the story is that our governor, Matt Mead, intends to enter the lawsuit to argue that the roundup should proceed to stop the wild horses from hurting the rangelands!!!

    Steve Ferrell, policy adviser to Mead states that “overabundance of wild horses has impacts on the range.” Further he says, “That creates impacts on rangeland use by livestock and habitat use by wildlife. And so these two particular herd management areas are over the appropriate level defined by BLM now. We would like to see these two gathers implemented so they can get back into the prescribed population level.”

    Gov. Mead who is a rancher, has stated earlier that over population of wild horses must not be allowed to hurt rangelands.

    Toward the end of this report there was a statement by Suzanne Roy, the campaign director with the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, She added that “Even though Wyoming advertises its wild horses as a reason for people to came and visit, it’s not surprise that the state is actively supporting efforts to get the sild horses off of public land.” She says, “Like the BLM policy, the state’s policy is driven by livestock interests. And it comes at the expense of our wild horses and a lot of other wild animals as well.

    I am not the least bit surpised at the standing our newly elected Gov. takes based on his background upbringing and his standing on other wildlife decisions he’ made. Maybe next he will do away with the other forage eating wildlife, (deer, elk, antelope, etc.), so that the livestock are not being robbed of the range grasses. I’m a bit bent out of shape right now by our leadership from this state, but it should be easy to figure how they get elected.


  10. There is something else going on, though. You can FEEL it. You’re not going to see it on prime time, corporate news. Who knew that there are people fighting for Animal Welfare in CHINA? There is a groundswell and it’s coming up from the base, where all real change takes place. We have become accustomed to watching television shows and movies, where justice transpires withing an hour….two hours at the most. Our attention span is short. “They” keep hoping that we will just give up and go away.


  11. I think it is OK to bring Ginger’s comment forward, because this is important information. Andrew Cohen’s excellent expose was probably read by A LOT OF CONSTITUENTS. This is where some of that push comes to shove.

    Poor Ginger
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 12:02:16

    R.T., thanks so much for posting this. Kudos to Mr. Cohen for such an informed, comprehensive, and well-written article!

    Some info about The Atlantic (formerly The Atlantic Monthly):
    1. 2010 Print Circulation – 450,000+ (subscriptions & single copy sales) and third fastest growth (behind Time & Newsweek). Readership multiplies as mags find their way to waiting rooms.
    2. 2011 Top-5 Nominee for the ASME Best National Magazine Award (National Geographic won). Top five in most recent years as well.
    3. Strong and growing presence online
    4. Demographics – Median age about 59. 60% men/40% women
    5. Primary readership on the East Coast (The majority of Annie’s supporters were Easterners.)

    I don’t know if Reader’s Digest (or other “biggies”) pick up from The Atlantic, but wouldn’t that be wonderful!


  12. Morgan G, I like your idea of full page ads in major newspapers of Rep Grijalva’s letter. Anyone know how many major newspaper markets there are in the country? 12? 20? And what a full page ad would cost to publish all on the same day with a few choice photos? Must be some way to push this story into the national consciousness. Can’t wait for the corporate media to report on it. Not much time left. Gotta be cheaper than a lawsuit.


    • Ms Pickens did an ad, believe it was in the NYTimes and wasn’t full page.

      It needs to be full page in the Washington Post, A section.

      I don’t know how internet journalism (Politico, Huffington Post) is tracked by staffers, but I know those sites get read….problem is, the articles presented to the Rep/Sen are cherry picked by staffers and then given to the concerned Rep/Sen.

      Someone might want to try with Huffington Post and see what headers or side bars cost.


  13. I also think this is a awesome Idea, i can see it all now wow , this may be just what the Mustangs need ….Im in on this one……………………..Please we need to do something HUGE, this I believe is Awesome, Lets do it…………………………


  14. Not sure but I think Madeleine’s ad was in politico.

    After reading this and other blogs, I have come to the opinion that settling this wild horse dispute may require the selling of large parcels of public land to people who want to ranch and mine at market value. Herd management areas for wild horses and wildlife, not livestock, would not be sold, but kept for the sole purpose of maintaining wildlife and natural areas. These lands would not be managed by the BLM, but perhaps a special public/private partnership. The wild horses of Corolla has a good model wherenthe horses are actually managed daily. This model would not work everywhere, but it is one approach that could be duplicated in a number of places. It includes Eco-tourism, private funding, local management, and the use of some public land. Actually, if I were in Congress, I would make it my mission to put this corrupt, inhumane, and disgraceful government agency out of business.


  15. Huff Post has run articles and posts about the mustang situation. They might run an ad, but as far as I know, they are Internet only with no hard copy.

    Congress has been dealing with this debt/non-budget issue for a few months. Normally they leave for part of August vacation/recess. Perhaps when they return, East coasters and others could stage sit-ins in front of the Department of Interior in Washington. It is on the main drag as you enter the city from the South. Or perhaps protests at the Capitol. During the Equine Welfare Conference in September might be another time,since Bethesda is so close to DC.

    Another thought in terms of focusing national attention on our issue is the upcoming debate on Fox News with Republican Presidential Candidates. Perhaps if we were to submit questions to Fox News that we would like to have answers to with regard to issues surrounding wild horses and burros, government corruption, judicial deference, etc., we could submit them to Fox ahead of time for the people who are conducting this debate to consider presenting.


  16. The BLM has outlived it’s usefulness. Maybe some ranchers in Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming thinks this agency has a purpose, but in the big scheme of what this country needs they are about as useful as leeches. Sell part of the public lands to private interests and end the backseat sibling argument about which brother or sister crossed the dividing line onto the other siblings half of the back seat. Get these people out of the serious job of managing our natural resources.


  17. The BLM has outlived it’s usefulness. Maybe some ranchers in Nevada, Idaho, and Wyoming thinks this agency has a purpose, but in the big scheme of what this country needs they are about as useful as leeches. Sell part of the public lands to private interests and end the backseat sibling argument about which brother or sister crossed the dividing line onto the other siblings half of the back seat. Get these people out of the serious job of managing our natural resources.


  18. 1-2 of you said, “R.T., I save PDFs to Word. Is that what you mean?”
    And THIS is very IMPORTANT! :
    Do NOT save as a WORD document! (As U/anyone could CHANGE that–
    I know YOU wouldn’t, but…)
    SAVE as a PDF file!; —it is more like a “snapshot” &
    therefore Cannot easily be Changed…
    So, that’s Why it is Best to save in PDF,
    for matters of “Evidence”…


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