Horse News

The Man Who Could Save America’s Wild Horses

– Andrew Cohen is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and legal analyst for 60 Minutes. He is also chief analyst and legal editor for CBS Radio News and has won a Murrow Award as one of the nation’s leading legal analysts and commentators. More

Meet Raul Grijalva, a rumored potential nominee for Secretary of the Interior — and dedicated friend of the nation’s untamed herds.

Hope for Wild Horses and BurrosWhen Ken Salazar announced his resignation earlier this month as Secretary of the Interior, it set off quivers of speculation among wild horse advocates about who might replace him in the post most important to the fate of the nation’s vulnerable herds. Salazar, a longtime Colorado rancher, was never trusted by the wild horse community. Under his direction, the Bureau of Land Management has left the horses more exposed, literally and figuratively, than they’ve been in decades.

Very quickly, two main streams of thought emerged. Some horse activists worry that President Barack Obama will appoint Washington Governor Christine Gregoire to the post. The National Journal noted glowingly two weeks ago that as “a former head of Washington state’s Department of Ecology, Gregoire is steeped in experience in energy and environmental issues. Her enthusiastic support for renewable energy has won plaudits from environmentalists.”

But that’s not how wild horse and other wildlife advocates necessarily see her. In November, in a Wildlife News piece headlined “Governor Gregoire’s Troubling Livestock Legacy,” the lead paragraph offered another view of the potential nominee:

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire is rumored to be a front-runner for nomination as Secretary of the Interior, where she would oversee millions of acres of public land. But a livestock “pilot” program she instituted in Washington, which fast-tracked the introduction of livestock grazing on Washington Wildlife Areas free of charge to ranchers, while running roughshod over the concerns of agency wildlife biologists, should give wildlife advocates pause.

The other theme that quickly blossomed after Salazar’s resignation announcement was the notion that the best candidate to replace him is Representative Raul Grijalva, a Democrat who has represented Arizona’s 7th District in Congress since 2003. “He has been the most staunch supporter of wild horses in Congress for many years now,” said Carol Walker, a renowned wild horse photographer who closely tracks the herds. Meanwhile, the folks at the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, representing 50 such horse organizations, quickly launched an online petition to support Grijalva’s undeclared candidacy.

Right or wrong, he’s earned this support. Representative Grijalva has been a consistent friend to the herds, and a persistent critic of the way the BLM has handled them. In 2009, for example, he co-sponsored the “Restore Our American Mustangs Act,” which would have buttressed federal protection for the horses. The measure passed the House but died later that year without being put to a vote in the Senate. In 2011, Rep. Grijalva sent this letter to Salazar, urging the Secretary to halt the BLM’s “detrimental new policies” toward the horses.

So he stands up for the horses. He’s not afraid of the ranching and livestock lobbies, which have dominated the Interior Department for generations. He’s direct about his efforts to restore the balance Congress intended in 1971 when it passed the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the landmark statute designed to protect America’s wild horse herds from precisely the sort of destruction that threatens them today. Oh, and he thinks the Obama Administration could be more transparent in its dealings on the issue. What’s not to love?

When it comes to these horses — the tens of thousands of them now in holding pens in the Midwest, many more now in captivity than roaming wild — whoever becomes the next Secretary of the Interior will likely have to deal with the fallout from an emerging story about potential federal involvement in the sale of wild horses for slaughter, an act that is prohibited by federal law. It was the unremitting slaughter of wild horses in the 1950s, you may remember, which prompted Velma Bronn Johnston, “Wild Horse Annie” herself, to push for the enactment of the first federal laws to protect the animals.

With all this in mind, I caught up with Grijalva Wednesday afternoon as he was traveling by car through the Arizona desert, from Tuscon to Yuma. What follows is an edited transcript of our phone conversation…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read Rep. Grijalva’s interview at The Atlantic and to Comment

19 replies »

    • I have been on the phone with the Pres. comment line since on set of Slaughterczar resignation to urge Pres to appoint Raul Grijalva, I feel he is the excellent appointment !!!! He has been a wild mustang Champion for a very long time…………..


  1. I will place my number #1 vote on our local hero and conservationist ~ Congressman Raul Grijalva. (We /animal advocates) ~ are proud to have Raul in Tucson, Arizona as our Congressman. His political record truely understands that (We) are all connected in the Great Chain of Life.
    Perhaps we need to be looking at 70 % per oxygen levels World Wide. It’s time to look at how we are going to survive as large mammals. At this rate we will not be here as human beings. Sounds silly but look it up on the web.

    Congressman Grijalva allows us to view the beauty of Wild Horses and Burros and this agrees with my personaility. His ecological ethical standards are honorable. His #1 top knotch, ***** rating


  2. How would we feel, if for whatever reason, we became free from our addiction to petroleum, and suddenly the beautiful creatures that helped us build this nation became not only attractive again, but even necessary? When I think of the “men” (debatable) that pilot those copters, and the “men” that keep the wild herds captive in holding pens for so so long, I am filled with grief and a terrible need to stop this insanity right now. So please call the President, send letters to every public official, send emails to every single person with a pulse that will listen and even to those that don’t. Show the world that the United States’ people are beginning to STAND UP to the bullies and murderers to end this horrible and twisted reign of killing the wild ones. Help appoint people to our government that still have a human heart and are not bought and sold for sake of the almighty greenback and oil and mineral interests. If Congressman Grijalva brings us hope for the future of our very heritage, then we MUST use every means we have to support him. Thank you for reading, Cissy Caple in Texas. 2013.


  3. When the ranchers get wind of either allowing the mustangs on public lands and leaving them alone or having the grazing rates raised the first thing they will do is jump on the phone to their senators. The cattle industry as a whole stick together as we all know. They will be sending in their lobbyists. They don’t want anyone in this Interior position that that is not totally on their side.


    • Those ranchers need to see our wild horses as their ticket to making sure they can continue to ranch on public lands. Because our horses are out there, they assure that human eyes other than their own eyes are there to witness activities on public lands. The ranchers are very concerned about being able to continue to work on the land. I hope the ranchers and BLM get the idea that it is in their best interest and the best interest of the American people to keep genetically viable, healthy, and reproductively self-sustaining horses on the land. As Debbie Coffey said a couple of years ago, once the horses are gone, the ranchers will not be far behind.


    • New Mexico grazes more cattle than any other state and has for many decades. Grijalva is not so scary to them. There have been others who have been pro wildlife. Corporate cattle are the problem. They are not such a presence in NM. where it takes over 30 acres per cow calf to graze their time on allotments. Because he is a man of the West, Grijalva would find his way in this mess. Just so he gets the chance!


  4. It isn’t just his stance on wild equines; Rep. Grijalva is very concerned with environmental issues, wild and open space and the belief that firm actions by citizens SHOULD have an effect on how the country is governed, not simply those who weild political and corporate power. Read his bio; welfare ranchers and foreign & domestic corporate raiders should be quaking in their boots.


  5. Great interview and one that sheds a lot of light on Representative Grijalva’s thoughts on the wild horse issue. When asked ,when it comes to wild horses, which policies specifically , would you like to see come out of the office of the next Secretary of Interior? One of the comments, “I think you go in with the attitude, that the wild horses are part of an equation in the West, of life, of wildlife in this instance, I think it changes the whole attitude, because if you approach the question not as “an expendable commodity, the wild horse,” or ” a nuisance, the wild horse,” but you approach and say, okay now we are talking about conservation, preservation, maintenance, multi-use on the public lands.” His “attitude” and answers certainly provides great insight, in my opinion. on his ability to produce a win-win for all. I believe it can be done, with the right person… with the right “attitude”. (-:


    • There have been so many days of reading of the slaughter, the roundups, the cruelty. It feels like hope again, to know there are many, many people that see clearly, that want positive resolution for all, like the lady above said, we must keep hoping, working hard to support all the people that give their lives in defense of these animals. I am sleeping a tiny bit better tonight, as I can almost feel the collective consciousness moving steadily into the path of better and deeper understanding of the significance here. There is no justification at all for even one innocent wild horse to suffer or die because of callous hearts of men. I am also thinking quite a bit about Mr. Grijalva, to give him renewed strength to continue his good work in the coming days.


  6. Times, they are a changin..Sierra Club has issued a statement to all its members to commit acts of civil disobiendience against the Keystone pipeline..well its about time they realised the BLM was taking them for a ride on a prickly pear cactus..and its long past time we did something..everyone show up at STH dressed like the grim reaper with black hoodys and gleaming scythes



    A summary of the Teapot Dome scandal from the Brookings Institution; with several quotes from the congressional inquiry, this provides a good background on the case in a fairly readable fashion.

    One Lesson From History: Appointment of Special Counsel and the Investigation of the Teapot Dome Scandal
    by Leslie E. Bennett
    Intern for the Independent Counsel Statute Project

    Those difficulties notwithstanding, history has largely judged the Teapot Dome investigation a success. The tale of corruption was told, the fraudulent leases were set aside and the oil leases returned to the government, and at least some of the perpetrators were successfully prosecuted. Consequently, when allegations of high-level wrongdoing in the government again arose, Teapot Dome has served as a call to action. See, e.g., Watergate: Clean-Up Precedent, Chr. Sci. Monitor, reprinted in 119 Cong. Rec. 13721 (1973) (Watergate); Byron York, How Congress Can Break Through the Reno Stonewall, Wall St. J., Dec. 16, 1997, at A18 (Campaign finance).


    • It’s so great when brilliant minds emerge who have the willingness and the stamina it takes to prevail! I mean, that’s what it all comes down to. It’s the ultimate “lid on the box,” so to say… hopefully… Where do these ranchers with so much money go to church? That’s what I’m talking about! haha A good lawyer would only have to scratch the surface a little to uncover untold transgressions…


  8. Please appoint Rep Raul G. He is the man to help us save our wild horses. He can do this. We can help him. Let us see our horses go back out on the range lands public and private. Yes. We need him and the horses need him. Let us get him into office. the horses and we will thank him. I pledge to help create Equine Eco Systems for our wild horses and burros. We can do this together. We can make a difference for our horses. Let us do it now. Stop the round ups, stop the BLM and the miss management of our horses now. Thank you.


  9. In the 70s when the Great Acts were passed we had a system that worked with public comment and we felt empowered. Over the past decade this was eroded and the system of public comment ignored. Raul Grijalva would help get this system working again. It was a wonder and it is needed back for all to use and express their side of issues, be heard, then be an influence on a decision.
    It can be a gratifying experience. But now we are back in the streets. I guess this is what must be done. I BACK THE SIERRA CLUB FOR THIS RALLY IN DC. I am not always happy with the Sierra Club but this second round on Fracking is necessary. Last time they surrounded the White House.
    Pretty hard to pull that off in this day and age.


    Saving our Horses and Burros

    Summary: Protecting wild horses and burros in their habitats and protecting all horses and burros from kill buyers and abuse . ill
    This is a loose coalition of horse activists needing a central a central point to share information regarding protecting our horses, domesticated and wild, and our wild burros from kill buyers, BLM round ups and the loss of traditional grazing areas on public lands. Also preventing cruelty and abuse by advocating for tougher laws.
    Our Projects
    Under construction!

    Big issues:
    enforcing the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act
    Stopping kill buyers and the slaughter of horses and burros for horse meat
    Rescuing wild horses and burros rounded up by BLM and others
    Protecting the habitats of wild horses and burros
    How You Can Help
    Under construction! We willl figure this out as we go along. Many are already involved in monitoring activities, writing letters, signing petitions, making phone calls and sharing information.


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