Horse News

Un-wilding Wild Horse Lands

by Charlotte Roe as published on High Country News

Jonathan Thompson aptly calls out Bureau of Land Management Acting Director William Perry Pendley’s big lie about the “existential threat” to public lands (“BLM chief ’s wild horse fixation,” 11/25/19).

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Sadly, Thompson goes on to refer to the estimated 88,000 wild horses on public lands, stating that their “hooves trample and lay waste to big swaths of cryptobiotic soil.”  Whoa!  

The BLM relentlessly pushes the notion that wild horses and burros overpopulate and damage Western lands. Facts tell a different story. Without environmental review, the BLM has removed half of the animals’ federally designated habitat. The 88,000 horses now roam on 27 million acres — hardly the surging overpopulation claimed by Department of Interior publicists. In Europe, ecologists are re-wilding horses as a way of restoring ecosystems and reducing fire-prone vegetation. In the U.S., the BLM is un-wilding lands that are federally designated for these free-roaming animals. 

Wild horses and their advocates have enough problems with the BLM’s eradication scheme and discriminatory treatment. Having the myths repeated by other ecologists is not helpful. We share the same goals: healthy public lands, protecting wolves and other natural predators, strengthening safeguards against pollution by extractive industries, fighting the efforts to gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and pushing for congressional oversight of this too often roguish agency.

6 replies »

  1. RT, did you accidentally omit part of Charlotte’s article? Seems lije it starts in the middle. Deb

    On Tuesday, December 31, 2019, Straight from the Horse’s Heart wrote:

    > R.T. Fitch posted: “by Charlotte Roe as published on High Country News > Jonathan Thompson aptly calls out Bureau of Land Management Acting > Director William Perry Pendley’s big lie about the “existential threat” to > public lands (“BLM chief ’s wild horse fixation,” 11/25/19). ” >


  2. From PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    Conservationists Call for Temporary BLM Lead William Perry Pendley to Step Down

    For Immediate Release: December 30, 2019
    Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910
    Peter Jenkins, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, (202) 265-4189
    Blaine Miller-McFeeley, Earthjustice, (202) 745-5225
    Judi Brawer, WildEarth Guardians, (208) 871-0596

    WASHINGTON, DC – Today, 91 conservation, sportsmen, and faith-based groups concerned with public lands management, representing more than 3.9 million Americans, submitted a letter to Interior Secretary Bernhardt calling for William Perry Pendley to resign or be removed from office. Pendley lacks Senate approval to lead the agency. The letter cites Pendley’s direction to implement the agenda of public lands extremist groups, his conflicts of interest relating to his former law firm’s continued representation of opponents of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalate National Monuments designations, the movement of BLM headquarters personnel from Washington to western offices without congressional authorization, and his skewed leadership towards extractive industry.
    “William Pendley is implementing his goal to eliminate federal public lands by directing his department to hand over control to local government entities, including those that seek to crush environmental protections and throw the door wide open to commercial exploitation,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project. “Pendley’s direction to defer BLM’s law enforcement to local officials explicitly implements the policy agenda of the Constitutional Sheriffs, an organization affiliated with the Bundy movement that seeks to supplant federal laws and regulations on our western public lands.”
    Pendley authored an op-ed in November directing federal laws enforcement to allow local law enforcement to take the primary role in enforcing federal laws on federal public lands, in a major derogation of BLM law enforcement’s authority and a page out of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association playbook. He has also directed a mandatory relocation of senior BLM career employees from the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    “Pendley has pushed hard to move scores of HQ staff to Grand Junction in the heart of natural gas production in Western Colorado,” said Peter Jenkins of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “With no direct flights to DC it makes no sense – except to strengthen BLM’s ties to oil and gas production, harm oversight by Congress, and weaken the influence of the agency. Even worse, he is scattering other professional support staff all over the West.”

    In October of 2019, Pendley issued a controversial statement that wild horses were the primary issue facing the BLM, angering conservationists who pointed to real crises facing the agency, including sage grouse declines, livestock overgrazing, cheatgrass spread, climate change, and many other problems.
    “Putting Pendley in charge of the BLM is like the fox guarding the henhouse,” said Judi Brawer, Wild Places Program Director with WildEarth Guardians. “He will destroy the agency and the irreplaceable public lands in his charge.”

    Pendley’s former law form, Mountain States Legal Foundation, continues to represent local governments fighting to defend the gutting of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments by the Trump Administration, and Pendley himself had been an attorney representing these groups prior to being appointed to lead the BLM. Pendley’s BLM has continued to pursue Monument management plans advancing the interests of his former clients.

    “William Perry Pendley has essentially infiltrated the Bureau of Land Management to serve the corporations who want to dig, drill, and destroy our public lands for profit. He should have immediately removed himself from any decisions relating to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monuments decisions, but instead shielded his former clients and big polluters from environmental protections.” said Blaine Miller-McFeeley, Senior Legislative Representative for policy and legislation at Earthjustice. “Congress should remove Pendley from office as soon as possible if he won’t leave on his own.”
    Pendley’s current appointment as Deputy Director by Secretary Bernhardt expires on January 3rd. The BLM Director, who would have full authority to exercise the responsibilities of that position once confirmed by the Senate, has not yet been nominated by the Trump Administration.


  3. Until wild horses receive ESA protection, and, Congress understands the Preservation LAW of the land INCLUDING the 1966 National Historic Preservation Law it won’t make any difference who is appointed i.e. Pendley. It’s an agenda we are up against, not a person., The court in Mt. States v Hodel found that “In structure and purpose, the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act is nothing more than a land-use regulation enacted by Congress to ensure the survival of a particular species of wildlife.” In Mar of 2016 stated “ When and if available scientific information convinces the experts that determine the checklist of native species to North America that Equus caballus should be considered as an indigenous species, they will make the change in the next revision to the list.” YET to date, all responsible agencies have blatantly ignored the widely published mitochondrial DNA evidence of origin and geographic distinctions i.e.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reposting Hoofhugs comment

      April 15, 2017

      The horse should be the keystone species, not the sage grouse. This makes scientific and political sense unless you’re the Sierra Club. The modern horse originated and evolved in N. America for 55 to 60 some million years ago. Their ancestors and they have survived post rifting from Eurasia, continental drift from the point at a latitude not much above the equator.. They survived millions of years when we were nothing more than a steamy swamp mostly covered by shallow sea water from above northern Canada that flowed almost to the Gulf of Mexico. Now Canada is sitting next to the Arctic Circle and we have gone from a Tropical hotspot for most of our land mass which is still basically moderate. Horses are a very adaptable species and share 70% of the same genetic material as we do. We’re into the future and Nevada BLM and the cattle ranchers would be better off limiting sage grouse territory and welcoming horses–wild horses and burros, whose teeth have each adapted to eat certain grasses, a wide variety for both species, but they share the human range of survival and what is optimal or less than optimal.


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