by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Director of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved.
I felt sickened recently when I read that an advocacy group was promoting the BLM’s use of the fertility control drug GonaCon and the chemical castration of wild stallions. Here’s why:
In BLM’s Comparison of Population Suppression Growth Methods document (9/3/13) received as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, chemically castrating stallions falls under the category of NON-REPRODUCTIVE or MINIMALLY REPRODUCTIVE HERDS! (In other words, on the fast track to extinction.) Under “Limitations and Barriers” of chemically castrating stallions, the BLM stated “WH & B regulation states to manage for sustainable populations. Solicitors indicate this presents gray area of uncharted waters to navigate legal challenge.”
THEN, under “NEEDS,” the BLM stated it needs “Clarification in the WH & B Act to indicate that non-reproducing herds are acceptable. Change to the WH & B regulations to eliminate the phrase “shall be managed as self-sustaining populations.”
Why does the BLM “need” this? Is this their REAL GOAL? Are non-reproducing herds acceptable to you?
In this document, the BLM states that GonaCon was “Initially thought to be long lasting, but preliminary data from a new USGS & BLM pen trial indicates suboptimal results in second year.” Also, under “Existing Science & Literature,” it states “new data to be reported in the upcoming year.” (In other words, NO existing science and literature currently exists, so why didn’t the BLM write “none,” like they wrote under other methods?)
The BLM is EXPERIMENTING on our wild horses & burros.
Before considering any fertility control of any herd, one fact should loom large: there are few VIABLE herds left on the range. Only about a third of the herds remaining on Herd Management Areas have over 100 horses. The BLM has mismanaged their mandate to protect the wild horses & burros.
A big thank you to Ginger Kathrens for her statement in the article below: “It is a fact that there are few mustangs left in the wild. The majority of our wild herds are not large enough to be considered genetically viable. The charge of overpopulation is a joke aimed at hoodwinking the media and the public.”
The BLM has NO PROOF that there is an “EXCESS” of wild horses and burros on public lands. There are few, if any, photographs or videos on aerial population inventory flights to prove the exaggerated numbers that BLM claims are on public lands. There are no independent observers from any wild horse advocacy groups on these flights.
The BLM can only legally remove wild horses from their federally protected Herd Management Areas if there is an “excess.” The BLM has no proof of an excess. Advocates should file for Freedom of Information Act requests for all photos and videos taken on the past 3 aerial population inventory flights of each Herd Management Area. Also, ask for the GPS location (and dates) of photos taken for Environmental Assessments to remove any wild horses.
Advocates should also be loudly protesting any and all of the BLM’s experimentation on wild horses, including the field spaying of mares, GonaCon and surgical and chemical castration of wild stallions. The push to give fertility control to non-viable herds is just a way for the BLM to sneak in NON-REPRODUCING and MINIMALLY REPRODUCING HERDS while trying to make their failed Wild Horse & Burro program seem palatable to the public.
I’m posting the article below along with a big thank you to Ginger Kathrens for all she does:
Obama & BLM Seek to “Rid the Range of Our Wild Horses”
SOURCE: The Desert Independent
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – For twenty years Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, has documented wild horses for PBS/Nature’s award-winning films, making her the country’s leading expert on wild horse behavior.
Upon hearing that the BLM budgeted two $6 Million contracts for helicopter roundups in 2014 and $1.5 million for plans to sterilize the stallions and mares she said, “The BLM is breaking their promise to Congress and to the American public. The case can be made that this is their solution to rid the range of our wild horses. They have made a mockery of the Wild Horse and Burro Act, an Act designed to preserve, not destroy wild horse families.“
The Cloud Foundation advocates for economical, sustainable methods for managing wild horses and burros “on the range,” many of which were recommended in the June 2013, National Academy of Science (NAS) Report: Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward. The report states: current BLM Management practices (helicopter roundups and removals of horses from the range) are facilitating high rates of population growth.
BLM is on a collision course with reality. It appears they intend to continue inhumane and expensive helicopter roundups and removals of wild horses and burros when long and short term holding corrals are filled beyond capacity.
Will BLM simply castrate stallions and spay mares then return them to the wild, creating dead end herds and destroying the rich and complex society that Kathrens has documented over the years? In Oct. 2013 the BLM issued a request for information for Wild Horse and Burro Sterilization or Contraception: Development of Techniques and Protocols, inviting research project ideas for the permanent sterilization or contraception of either male or female wild horses and/or burros in the field.
Does the BLM intend to showcase the few herd areas where PZP is effectively controlling population growth with the intent to annihilate the rest by creating non-reproducing herds? Maybe this what Ed Roberson, BLM’s assistant director of resources and planning referred to in The Washington Post, Jan. 26, 2014 article U.S. Looking for Ideas to Help Manage Wild-Horse Overpopulation
“This is my fear,” Kathrens says. “It is a fact that there are few mustangs left in the wild. The majority of our wild herds are not large enough to be considered genetically viable. The charge of overpopulation is a joke aimed at hoodwinking the media and the public.
“Rather than spend $1.5 million for further studies the BLM needs to use the tools it has. Effective use of the proven and reversible fertility vaccine PZP will curtail population growth in an economical, sustainable way with no need for helicopter roundups. On the range management is being practiced in the Pryor Mountains of Montana, the McCullough Peaks of Wyoming, the Little Book Cliffs of Colorado, and it is being considered for the Onaqui wild horse herd in Utah,” said Kathrens. “PZP has successfully controlled population in the Assateague National Seashore where wild horses have been darted with the drug for decades. Instead, the BLM treated only 332 mares of the 4702 wild horses rounded up in 2013.”
The Cloud Foundation contends that BLM’s management of wild horses and burros on our public lands is wrong on every level:
It is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
It cheats the American public of the opportunity to experience these inspiring wild animals.
It violates the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.