Horse News

Feinstein to Interior: Suspend Wild Horse, Burro Adoption Incentive Program

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on the Interior Department to suspend its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program over reports that some program participants have abandoned animals at slaughter auctions in direct opposition to the program’s requirements.

“I write with great concern regarding the attached New York Times article, which indicates that the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program has provided federal incentive payments to adopters who abandoned these animals at slaughter auctions,” Senator Feinstein. “I strongly urge BLM to immediately suspend this program and conduct a thorough investigation to ensure federal funds are used to protect wild horses and burros against abuse, neglect, or slaughter, as intended by Congress.”

Full text of the letter follows:

May 27, 2021

The Honorable Deb Haaland
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington DC 20240

Dear Secretary Haaland:

I write with great concern regarding the attached New York Times article, which indicates that the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program has provided federal incentive payments to adopters who abandoned these animals at slaughter auctions. I strongly urge BLM to immediately suspend this program and conduct a thorough investigation to ensure federal funds are used to protect wild horses and burros against abuse, neglect, or slaughter, as intended by Congress.

Although adopters sign a contract swearing under penalty of perjury that they will not sell adopted wild horses and burros directly or indirectly to slaughter, this report suggests that some adopters have done exactly that and BLM has failed to use all appropriate tools to enforce its contracts and prevent adopters who previously sold their wild horses to slaughter auctions from adopting again.

Subsidizing the slaughter of wild horses and burros with taxpayer dollars violates Congressional intent outlined in the Fiscal Year 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 116 260), which prohibits the use of funds for the destruction of wild horses and burros and directs BLM to adopt a robust expansion of proven, safe, effective, and humane fertility control methods to manage these herds.

It is my hope that you will immediately halt the Adoption Incentive Program and ensure a proper investigation is conducted to prevent future wild horses and burros from suffering abuse or slaughter. Thank you for your attention to this important matter and I look forward to working with you to ensure humane outcomes for wild horses and burros.


Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

17 replies »

  1. Well, this is good – finally! But how many wild horse advocates have been writing, commenting & contacting this Senator and others ever since this program started saying the same thing? It takes a NY Times article to make a dent? I have to say ABOUT FREAKING TIME. So the Times needs a few more “articles” about this Wild Horse & Burro “program”, I guess.

    Liked by 3 people

    • NOW if Ms.Feinstein would pull her sponsorship of the livestock industry at Point Reyes National Seashore? I might be inclined to give her more credit. Until then? Not so much.


  2. Feinstein has been a voice in support of wild horses for some time now, and I am glad to see she is stepping up here. I would add this though, her comment: “…to ensure federal funds are used to protect wild horses and burros against abuse, neglect, or slaughter, as intended by Congress.” misstates the law. PL- 92-195 carefully specifies the following:

    “It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”

    The BLM’s policies the past 50 years have consistently violated both the letter and intent of this law. Wild horses and burros who enter the adoption-slaughter death spiral are first captured, then branded, harassed by helicopter roundups (and other strategies which include contraceptive darting and invasive surgeries), and then slaughter, since abundant evidence shows freeze branded animals do indeed end up in the kill pens or in trailer loads heading over our borders.

    What is clear to me is the entire BLM/USFS oversight should be roundly questioned and reimagined. We could start by firing both agencies from this role. Any private contractor delivering 50 years of such failed policies would have been shown the door long ago.

    It is time to make a much broader fresh start, before there are no wild ones to even matter.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Strange how private entities (or at least SMALL businesses) seem to be penalized for the kind of practices that these government agencies do as a matter of course. Thanks, Icy – Finally read it (to my shame – hadnt before) Just this little section sure does show that nowhere in the present “management” of our Wild Horses & Burros are they adhering to this Act!! (I know – YOU & GG, and others, were aware of this) But I bet lots of people – many who do CARE – havent actually read the words. This is just a small part.

    “The Secretary shall manage wild free-roaming horses and burros in a
    manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural eco-
    logical balance on the public lands. He shall consider the recommenda-
    tions of qualified scientists in the field of biology and ecology, some of
    whom shall be independent of both Federal and State agencies and
    may include members of the Advisory Board established in section 7
    of this Act. All management activities shall be at the minimal feasi-
    ble level and shall be carried out in consultation with the wildlife
    agency of the State wherein such lands are located in order to protect
    the natural ecological balance of all wildlife species which inhabit
    such lands, particularly endangered wildlife species. Any adjustments
    in forage allocations on any such lands shall take into consideration
    the needs of other wildlife species which inhabit such lands.”

    Every time Carol Walker puts a call out for all of us to comment or call reps – it drives me nuts that most of the comments on there are directed to HER – she has to keep stating over & over that the comments MUST be sent to BLM or Congress but it appears no one ever comprehends that. She and RT, Rachel Reeves, and other advocates continuously list the necessary emails and addresses where these comments might possibly do some good. I’m older & dont have the ability or access to be involved with horses anymore (which I hate) but I sure do understand that you have to get involved if something matters- even just to write letters and comments – which I do and which are becoming more, shall we say, upstreperous (no spell check)) but you get what I mean, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, and now we need the language to say SHE and HER when referring to the Secretary of Interior 🙂

      Also notice the language about allocation of forage is to consider “needs of other wildlife species” which makes it clear the original law considered wild horses and burros “wildlife” as well (and which further case law confirms), but mentions NOWHERE about favoring privately owned livestock over any wildlife, including wild horses and burros, when the BLM adjusts forage allocations.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The United States District Court, D. Columbia ROSEMARY M. COLLYER, District Judge. stated: “It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild free roaming horses and burros to “manage” them, Congress intended to permit the animals’ custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by harassing and killing and capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that Congress sought to protect from being killed and harassed and captured and removed from the wild.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, that certainly wouldnt be my interpretation of that either. Was that recently or long ago? Not that it matters.
      Looking back at that section of the Act – the concern was (and should be) the ecological balance of all WILDLIFE species, NOT any mention of domestic livestock. Or was there some amendment to that when Burns jumped in & added or changed something? There is so much that I am ignorant of about this – pretty sad that I waited so long to learn more.


  5. I Ihave asked this question before. Why with as many organizations there are for the equine, you can’t come together as 1 instead of individual companies?
    Here in Pahrump, many horse lovers would love more then ever then to rid of the blm. When the AWHC sent out the article from the New York times, I requested to use their petition, to help. They came back with “DONATE”. Not everyone can donate, but they can get signatures.
    I really would like to hear from you on this manor.


    • It sure is a shame that the various organizations cant come together for the sake of the Wild Horses. It seems the larger groups may do lots of good, but the main goal still seems to be getting more donations and sometimes taking credit for what smaller groups actually accomplish. There are many really hard-working advocates & small organizations out there trying to do the right thing for our Wild Horses & Burros. But from the replies (or form letters) that I receive from DC? These supposed “representatives” of ours either dont have a clue or just are not interested in learning how badly the BLM is doing their “jobs”! I guess thats not what they are there for – right?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I understand what you are saying. But when we had our little group, “Spring Mt. Alliance”, we tried to get everyone involved, we even went to the schools, till the politics came into the part. I feel that if you really want to try and beat the politics, you have to come together. Yes, we got some backing also, but there are a LOT who hate that dam blm and their crap. I have tried to be involved when I possibly can since 2006. I met many people at the Phoenix, rally and the Wild horse meeting in Vegas. Great People, I really enjoyed meeting them. Thank You Again for answering my comment.
        My Commissioner Cox and myself put out an Resolution for Nye Co., the blm can NO longer bring in helicopters in our county to round up our horses. No other county joined us, “Ranchers”. There has to be a way to bring in the BIG as well as the SMALL. I guess I am just dreaming, I love to read of good happenings;, Our country is in a mess and the answer to many is just kill and rid of the animal.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Those who want their livestock grazing on public lands are also, I assume, mostly Americans, so sadly the matter is not so simple, nor so black and white. Unless and until those 20,000 or so permit holders are loudly and roundly routed by the hundreds of millions of Americans who are part owners of our public lands and public wildlife, I don’t see much prospect for meaningful change.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. They keep rounding up the horses by any means necessary doing harm and damage and then placing them in holding facilities where thousands remain indefinetly. The public for years have been against the round ups and treatment of the horses and burros but it does fall on def ears most of the time. And where do alot of the wild horses end up, slaughter also…

    Liked by 2 people

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