Saylor Creek wild horses (photo: BLM)
Drastic Plan threatens future of all wild horse herds in the West
The Cloud Foundation issued a Press Release warning that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), long criticized for its inhumane helicopter roundups, massive, indiscriminant removals, and warehousing of America’s wild horses and burros, announced their intent to sterilize the Saylor Creek wild horse herd in Idaho. The BLM’s Jarbridge Resource Management Plan would “treat all wild horses surgically or chemically to eliminate reproduction capability.”
“This chilling decision, if allowed to stand, will set a deadly precedent for all our wild horse and burro herds in the West,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF). “Sterilizing a herd is the opposite of the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act (WFRHBA) and the BLM’s long repeated mantra, ‘Healthy herds on healthy rangelands.’ How can a sterilized wildlife population be considered healthy?”
The Cloud Foundation argues that the plan violates both the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the WFRHBA:
- Violates NEPA because it fails to analyze an alternative that restores access to the Snake River as a water source for wild horses
- Violates NEPA because it fails to adequately analyze the impacts of managing a non-reproducing herd in the Saylor Creek Herd Management Area (HMA)
- Does not analyze the impacts to: the “wild” and “free roaming” nature of wild horses and other behavioral dynamics; the physical health of mares; genetic diversity; and rangeland health.
- Violates the WFRHBA by proposing to manage a non-reproducing herd in the Saylor Creek HMA.
“The BLM has run rough-shod over the wild horse and burros for over 40 years, zeroing out almost half the herds that were identified for protection in the WFRHBA,” adds Paula Todd King, Communications Director for TCF. “Now they want to turn the Saylor Creek Herd area into a ‘sanctuary,’ more accurately described as a dumping ground for other sterilized mustangs in holding.”
In 1971, 339 herds were identified for protection after the passage of the WFRHB Act. Only 179 herds remain. The vast majority of the remaining herds are managed at non-viable levels of under 150-200 adult animals. 83% of forage in the 179 wild horse and burro herd areas is allocated to privately-owned livestock that cost taxpayers over $120 million a year for administration of a flawed and range damaging program.
“This is just the beginning of the end for wild horse families in the wild if we don’t say ‘no’ as loudly and collectively as we can,” concludes Kathrens.