Horse News

Save wild horses from BLM’s abusive practices

By and | as published in The Denver Post

The agency’s new plan to sell off horses like hotcakes effectively consigns these animals to the slaughter pipeline

photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Tearing foals from their mothers and running them to death in stampedes. Exposing pregnant mares to an experimental surgery where their organs are removed while the animal remains conscious. Allowing federally protected wild horses to be sold by the truckload for a pittance — with no questions asked. It’s been a busy year for the Bureau of Land Management, a federal agency that has been cooking up plans to hasten the removal of wild free-roaming horses from public lands.

Under U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s watch, the BLM has pushed a number of proposals based on misinformation, myths and dubious “management” practices.

In May, for example, the BLM quietly revoked a policy specifically aimed at protecting wild horses from being killed for their meat or hide. The BLM had originally adopted those guidelines after it was revealed that, from 2008 to 2012, Colorado rancher Tom Davis illegally sold roughly 1,800 mustangs into slaughter that he had purchased from the government for $10 each.

The agency’s new plan to sell off horses like hotcakes effectively consigns these animals to the slaughter pipeline. The BLM blames wild horses for damaging the landscape (livestock, which number in the millions, are evidently not a concern). Footage of the recent and relentless roundups — all with the goal of warehousing wild horses at an outrageous cost to taxpayers — has documented foals struggling to keep up with their mothers, before ultimately being separated, helicopters driving panicked mustangs into barbed wire fencing, and horses literally being run to death.

The BLM is also aggressively promoting the permanent surgical sterilization of wild horses to suppress population growth, maintaining that ripping out the ovaries of wild mares is the equivalent to spaying a cat or dog. This latest plan involves a controversial procedure known as “ovariectomy via colpotomy” that is as flawed as it is cruel. Wild horses, unlike companion animals, aren’t provided with an aseptic operating room, general anesthesia or proper recovery time.

Indeed, the National Academy of Sciences explicitly advises against this invasive, risky surgery — particularly given the nonsterile conditions on the range and the high risk of infection, prolonged bleeding or even death. Last month, Colorado State University bowed to public pressure and withdrew from the BLM’s planned ovariectomy experiments on captured wild horses. In 2016, similar plans with Oregon State University were derailed after protests and legal challenges from wild horse advocacy groups.

Undeterred, the BLM decided Sept. 12 to proceed with surgically sterilizing 100 wild mares from the Warm Springs herd in Oregon next month. Among the experiment’s gruesome objectives are to measure the pain level and death rate as a baseline for applying this sterilization method to other wild herds in the West, along with quantifying how many pregnant mares will abort their foals from the procedure.

The BLM’s reckless surgical sterilization proposals now have a troubling counterpart in legislation that passed the House of Representatives in July. Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican, added a rider to a House spending bill that calls for mass sterilizations and the creation of “same sex” herds. Senators have eschewed Congressman Stewart’s approach, which contradicts sound management principles, by omitting similar language from the upper chamber’s spending bill. Soon, legislators will work to reconcile differences between the spending bills for the upcoming fiscal year.

In a recent news interview, Secretary Zinke stated bluntly that “taxpayers spen[d] over $80 million a year on a horse program that’s been a dismal failure.” We agree. But addressing the tensions between ranchers, whose livestock enjoy virtually free grazing on public lands, and the many Americans who cherish wild horses, will not be solved by accelerating a failed and increasingly abusive management plan. It requires fundamental reform based on respect for wild equines, respect for the facts and an openness to public dialogue.

9 replies »

  1. This is outrageous !!! How cruel and inhumane .. why do they keep torturing our horses. Something needs to be done the BLM is out if control and our Government is condoning this is so wrong. Why does our Government let this happen? Breaks my heart and makes me sick. Lorie Schoen

    On Mon, Oct 1, 2018, 7:17 AM Straight from the Horse’s Heart wrote:

    > R.T. Fitch posted: “By Charlotte Roe and Joanna Grossman | as published in > The Denver Post The agency’s new plan to sell off horses like hotcakes > effectively consigns these animals to the slaughter pipeline Tearing foals > from their mothers and running them to death in ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stand up now for our wild horses . We are not stupid we know what blm wants to do and is doing. This is not China our animals and environment are our lives without them we are nothing. All the money in the world will not change that. To know our wild horses and all animals are free is the most wonderful feeling in the world.Step up now step up strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Taxpayers spend over $140 million a year on a LIVESTOCK GRAZING program that’s been a dismal failure
    (nearly twice what the wild horse and burro program costs). Why no outrage from Zinke, who has a mandate to steward our public lands?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Hugely Profitable Bureau of Land Management
    John J. Cardillo

    My evolution from Bundy supporter to critic came after much research. That same research also shed a very bright light on the BLM, and only reinforced my initial perception of them as an unchecked out of control agency with far too much power and control of lands in the western United States.

    In fact, the BLM appears to be little more than hugely successful for-profit business wing of the Department of the Interior, masquerading as a conservation agency. Even worse, they employ nearly 300 armed agents to enforce their receivables and collections.

    And you thought the Internal Revenue Service was scary. At least we see the IRS coming. Enter the BLM, an agency most Americans know nothing about.
    An excerpt from the Interior’s semi-annual report to Congress for the period Oct. 1, 2012 – March 31, 2013 reads:

    “The Federal Government has effectively controlled the market for helium for almost a century through its position as a predominant supplier—BLM provides about 40 percent of the Nation’s helium and 30 percent of helium to the world market.”

    So basically, you can thank the BLM for four out of 10 of the balloons floating at your next birthday party. If that isn’t government reaching into your every day life in the sneakiest ways imaginable, I don’t know what is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here might be one answer. In fact it might be THE answer


      At The Root (excerpts)

      Why does public lands ranching have such a death grip on our natural resources? How is it that after all these years, little has changed despite overwhelming evidence of the damage? Why, despite all the laws and many, many good dedicated people in the government agencies themselves that have tried to effect change, nothing substantial can be done? Why is it that report after report submitted to Congress clearly outlining the mismanagement and malfeasance of livestock grazing to our resources, including wild horses and burros, is met with indifference as they not only continue to support livestock grazing but will viciously fight for the rights of ranchers time and time again? And how is it possible that just a handful of ranchers who produce less than 3% of America’s beef on public lands continue to wield so much power over our Nation?

      Well, the answer is, they don’t. The banks do, just like everything else these days and it’s the banks that continue to dictate American policy and cause Congress to ask “How high?” when they ask them to jump.

      Liked by 1 person


    At The Root (excerpt)

    In Mike Hudaks’ Western Turf Wars – The Politics Of Public Lands Ranching, an interview with Mike Sauber sums it up in a nutshell and what he describes should send chills down anyone’s spine who cares for America’s resources, “our” public lands and why the current system has eternally doomed us to failure until there will be nothing left but dust.

    Mr. Sauber so aptly and clearly describes America’s real predicament in this powerful truth so often hidden from public view when he states: “People typically assume that ranchers have a lot of power, but it’s not really true. It’s the banks holding the estimated $2 billion that’s loaned out on grazing permits on western public lands that have the power. Our public lands are being used as collateral for bank loans. Our wilderness areas, archaeological sites, watersheds, wildlife habitat is being mortgaged -used as collateral for bank loans of ranchers that are buying base properties with grazing permits attached to them.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Many ranches (not all) are nothing more than corporate fronts, often with water rights.
    This has been a nice ride on a gravy train on which the taxpaying Public wasn’t invited.
    The taxpayers, however, have been forced to pick up the tab for the tickets.

    Liked by 1 person

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