by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation
In my humble opinion:
Return to Freedom (RTF) continues to add insult to injury in their efforts to boondoggle the American public with a controversial proposal, by recently claiming “We understand that there has been considerable misinformation spread online about this proposal to Congress. If you wish to delve deeper, please contact us to schedule a call. We’re also planning a webinar for RTF supporters.”
If you are one of their supporters, you should ask them direct questions, like “What, specifically, is the supposed misinformation?”
Every other major wild horse & burro advocacy organization, along with many knowledgeable advocates, have come out against their proposal. All of these organizations have been very specific in the disastrous aspects of this proposal and have backed their concerns with facts.
Instead of listening to the concerns of all of the other organizations, Return to Freedom, HSUS, ASPCA and the American Mustang Foundation lobbyists are blindly charging ahead. Return to Freedom’s recent spin is to claim their proposal is “a step forward for the wild horses.” In truth, the only “step forward” for America’s wild horses & burros will be off the precipice into extinction.
The wild horses & burros would’ve been much better off if Return to Freedom, HSUS, ASPCA and the American Mustang Foundation lobbyists had done nothing.
Instead, these groups utterly caved in to the rantings of Rep. Chris Stewart and other rabid and extremist wild horse haters and the livestock grazing industry.
Return to Freedom “applauded the House Appropriations Committee” for this:
TITLE I—DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT MANAGEMENT OF LANDS AND RESOURCES (INCLUDING RESCISSION OF FUNDS)
“With respect to the Wild Horse and Burro program, the Committee recognizes and appreciates that several stakeholder groups who each have avid, although diverging, interests in the program, have come together on a non-lethal compromise proposal based on the following four aspects: strategic gatherings in the most densely populated herd management areas; relocating animals currently in holding facilities and those being removed from the range to larger, more cost-effective pasture facilities; increased and vigorous fertility control strategies to help reduce the population growth; and increased adoptions. The Committee believes these concepts, once more fully developed by program specialists at the Bureau, have merit. The Committee therefore recommends a program increase of $6,000,000 for the Bureau to work with interested stakeholders to further develop a science-based removal, fertility control, and relocation pilot program targeted to the two or three most severely impacted herd management areas, and to begin to implement and scale up such plans once metrics for delineating a positive outcome have been designed and achieved. All removals must follow the guidelines outlined in the Bureau’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare.” (See page 10 in this report)
The language is kind of vague, isn’t it? We can only wonder how this will “further develop.”
Did the committee specifically say PZP would be used as fertility control? No. (This leaves sterilization on the table.)
Even now, can the BLM guarantee that wild horses & burros aren’t going to slaughter? No. Return to Freedom, HSUS and ASPCA certainly can’t guarantee that 45,000-60,000 wild horses and burros removed from public lands in 3 years (per their proposal) won’t end up in the slaughter pipeline. They also won’t be able to provide oversight and accountability to the public.
Return to Freedom tries to justify their signature on this proposal by stating things like “Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have repeatedly expressed to RTF staff in D.C. that maintaining the current cruel and financially unsustainable path will not be allowed to continue for much longer before horses are killed or sold without restriction”
So, in response, Return to Freedom, HSUS and ASPCA decided to sign onto a plan where 45,000-60,000 wild horses & burros will be rounded up in only 3 years and many will end up in the slaughter pipeline?
How does this make sense?
Apparently, when members of the public have written to Return to Freedom regarding their concerns with the proposal, Cory Golden, who has been working on wild horse issues with Return to Freedom for about 2 years, sent a condescending response including:
“Before talking about the proposal, let me be clear about the context in which it arises…”
Like you don’t know.
“BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program is headed for a cliff. As recently as Friday, we had a face-to-face conversation with a key lawmaker who said the program cannot continue at its current trajectory or Congress will end up allowing wild horses and burros to be killed.”
Who was this “key lawmaker” and why all the secrecy?
“Other organizations feel that the threat to wild horses isn’t as dire. They’re welcome to that opinion. We’re not about to sit by and do nothing.”
All other wild horse & burro advocacy organizations know how dire the situation is for our wild horses & burros and our hair is on fire. We’re not sitting by and doing nothing. And the wild horses & burros would have been much better off if Return to Freedom, HSUS and ASPCA had “done nothing,” rather than sign onto this disastrous proposal.
“What other alternative do we have than to offer a proposal?”
You don’t get it – it’s what you omitted and gave up in this proposal.
“It’s within that context that we’ve worked with scientists and an economist to model wild horse populations using different management tools and what that would cost. We didn’t like what we found…”
“The proposal also includes barring BLM from killing wild horses or selling them without restriction.”
Knock, knock, Cory, this is supposed to be happening now. The BLM has found ways around this for decades, and so will the cattlemen who are pushing this proposal along with you, HSUS and ASPCA.
“It does NOT include sterilization, but rather asks for Congress to mandate — and fund — the first real, robust fertility control program using safe, proven and humane vaccines.”
Uh, did anybody read this in the Appropriations language?
Return to Freedom urged their ”proposal to be implemented robustly.”
We ask you to oppose their proposal robustly. The Path Forward for Management of BLM’s Wild Horses & Burros” will be the fast track to slaughter and extinction. You don’t have to give up. And you don’t have to go along with this.
Contact your Congressional representatives to tell them you oppose this proposal. Copy the articles that all of the other wild horse & burro advocacy organizations (and advocates) have written about their concerns with this proposal and fax, email or mail them to your Congressional representatives.
We will continue to fight for healthy wild herds on public lands.