BLM’s Beatys Butte “Model” Program: The Devil is in the Details

A special feature article on Straight from the Horse’s Heart:

(Photo:  BLM)

Beatys Butte is a Herd Management Area (HMA) of wild horses in SE Oregon.  With 437,000 acres, the AML, the appropriate management level of allowed wild horses on that acreage, is set at 100-250.  The program was designed as a closed loop system.  Horses on the range were to be bait trapped yearly.  Some would be given fertility inhibitors to manage population growth and some, 20 colts and fillies, would be brought in to resupply the training center in Adel, Oregon, for training and adoption.  The program was designed by ranchers, elected officials, fish and wildlife agencies, the BLM, and “advocates.”  The initial cost was $425,719 for the gather, training and adoption program over a 5 year period.  It appears money also came from the sage grouse program.  The concept of the program appears to be good, but is the execution acceptable?

This program is poised as a “MODEL” but is it a “MODEL?”

  • In November, 2015, 1070 Beatys Butte wild horses, out of about 1400 or 1500 wild horses on this Herd Management Area, were gathered and removed from the range.  Nobody talks about them today.  Nobody talks about the fact that they were to be used to do different sterility experiments on the mares until the BLM was stopped.  Nobody talks about the fact that some were sent to feedlots.  Nobody talks about the fact that some were sold to Dave Duquette of the pro-horse slaughter group Protect the Harvest (and a couple of other people), only to be spayed (likely by Oregon veterinarian Leon Pilstick) and sent to Futurity Contests to be used for reigning, when their bones hadn’t yet fused.  Nobody talks about the callous, abusive handling of these wild horses.  After all, this is a “MODEL” program.
  • The AML was set at 100-250 with the idea the BLM would put only 100, the lower AML, on the 437,000 acre range spouting “a thriving, natural ecological balance.”  Dr. Gus Cothran, the equine geneticist hired by the BLM, laughingly says there should be a “minimum” of 150 to 200 in a herd with 150 effective breeding age animals to have a slow genetic decline.  In other words, there should be many more wild horses if the herds are to be healthy.  With only 100 wild horses, they are not thriving.  With only 100 wild horses, they are far outnumbered by the 4000 plus livestock grazing on Beatys Butte.  A “MODEL” program?
  • The BLM wants to gather the remaining 200 wild horses on the range, even though they are not over AML.  Is this even legal?  A “MODEL” program?
  • Then the BLM wants to select 60 stallions in the Burns Corrals to put back on the range and 40 mares.  In other words, it wants to also skew the sex ratio, even though Paul Griffin, the lead researcher for the BLM, says sex ratio skewing is now believed to be detrimental to the herd’s social behavior and dynamics.  The Oregon BLM maintains this 60-40 sex ratio does not affect the growth of the herd, as opposed to the 50-50 ratio, so even why do it?  A “MODEL” program?
  • In addition to the sex ratio skewing, the BLM wants to give fertility inhibitors and fertility boosters to the 40 mares now confined in Burns for two years before they are returned to the range.  Then BLM figures it will bait trap 30% of the horses per year and dart them again.  Dr. Kirkpatrick would likely roll over in his grave if he knew the PZP program he developed was being administered in this way.  The BLM allowing only 100 wild horses not only compromises the continuance of the herd, but the sex ratio skewing and the application of the PZP further compromises the continuance of the herd.  This is setting up the herd for collapse.  The BLM isn’t worried.  They say they will just bring in horses from other herds to bolster the genetics of the herd.  So much for the closed loop idea of the Beatys Butte program.  The 1971 Law said the horses were supposed to be “where found.”  A “MODEL” program?
  • At the first Beatys Butte Mustang Adoption Event, the message booming over the PA System to the audience was “This year we have 10 Beatys Butte horses for adoption.  Next year we will have 20.”  First of all, the 10 for this year were not from the Beatys Butte range. Eight 2 year olds were likely born in captivity at the Burn’s Corral.  Then next year, it is unlikely that 20 will be from the Beatys Butte range, because of the 40 PZPed mares.  You’ll be lucky if you have one.  Not to worry, the BLM will bring in colts and fillies from other HMAs and call them Beatys Butte horses.  Again, so much for the closed loop.  A “MODEL” program?
  • With 60 stallions and 40 mares (Beatys Butte horses) from the Burns Corrals and with infusing horses from other herds into this herd, it seems a selective human based breeding program is being promoted and developed.  This is not a wild horse program.  A “MODEL” program?
  • The training and adoption event this past Saturday, April 14th, brought into question the practices of these aspects of the “MODEL” program.  Two 4 and 5 year olds were featured and eight 2 year olds.  The 2 year olds came to the facility last September at the age of 1.  In the brochure given, the public was told all the horses have been ridden in the mountains in the snow, mud, trees and rocks.  The public was also told these horses had been used in gathering, sorting and and trailing cattle in rough terrain.  Bumpy, at about 1 or 2 years old, is seen pulling a cart with a 200 to 250 pound man behind him.  Horse veterinarians will tell you that horses should not be ridden beyond a walk until they are 3 years old, and not ridden at a trot or gallop until they are 5 years old, because their bones are not fused.  Riding too early can create lameness problems when they are older.  A “MODEL” program?
  • The public is told the program is supported by ranchers, advocates, and government officials.  Yet no advocates are seen on the Board.  What is the cost for such a facility just to train 10 or 20 horses a year?  With only an adoption event one time a year, this does not seem cost effective. Should the other 162 HMAs across the West have this type of facility as well?  Should more wild horses be removed from other HMAs yearly to train just 20 horses for this adoption event?  A “MODEL” program?                                                                                                                                                                                  While the concept of a rangeland management, training, and adoption program might seem to be a good idea, this is not rangeland management and the details of this program are anything but ideal.  In fact, the details are egregious and do not benefit America’s wild horses on or off the range.  And, this “model” program does not benefit the American taxpayer.

Contact Rob Sharpe or James Price of the Oregon Wild Horse and Burro Program for more information or to address your grievances.

An interesting fact:  In 2009, the BLM conducted a gather and removal of Beatys Butte wild horses, leaving a reported 102 wild horses on the HMA.  With a 20% growth rate, 354 horses would have been on the HMA in 2015-2016.  Yet the BLM reported 1400 wild horses were there.

 

 

 

 

Craig Downer’s 2017 report on 5 wild horse herds and Herd Management Areas in Oregon

Source:  The Wild Horse Conspiracy

Kiger Mustang HMA, Oregon 10/2017.  Photo copyright Craig C. Downer 2017

Craig C. Downer, wildlife ecologist, has issued a report, including research by Marybeth Devlin, on 5 wild horse herds and Herd Management Areas in Oregon.

These include the South Steens HMA, Kiger Mustang HMA, and Three Fingers Wild Horse HMA in southeastern Oregon, the Paisley Desert HMA in south-central Oregon (managed by the BLM) and the Big Summit HMA (managed by the Forest Service) in the Ochoco National Forest.
You can read the report HERE.

Congress demands wild horse and burro plan from BLM

By Charlie Booher as published on Wildlife.org

“The status quo still isn’t working for our wild horses and burros, the ecology on the range, or the American taxpayers”

BLM attacking wild horses – photo by Carol Walker

When Congress passed the omnibus appropriations bill last month, legislators included a mandate for the Bureau of Land Management to provide a new wild horse and burro management plan. The mandate was joined by a $5.55 million cut to the program.

The statements accompanying the appropriations bill for 2019 said the House and Senate committees that oversee the Interior Department, including the BLM, were “extremely disappointed” in the agency’s failure to produce a comprehensive plan that was originally requested in the FY17 spending package. Legislators said they wanted a plan “to address the fast-rising costs of the Wild Horse and Burro program and overpopulation of wild horses and burros on the range,” and asserted that continued “failure to address these problems is irresponsible and will result in irreparable damage to the landscape and the welfare of the animals protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act” of 1971.

Congress requested a plan from the BLM that:

  1. reduces the complexity and cost of contracting policies and procedures;
  2. eliminates unnecessary environmental reviews;
  3. simplifies and expands the use of partnerships and cooperative agreements;
  4. identifies statutory and regulatory barriers to implementing the plan; and
  5. has the goal of reducing costs while improving the health and welfare of wild horses and burros, and the range.

The statement directs the BLM to provide the plan within 30 days of enactment of the act, but it is still unclear if the deadline will be met. Until the BLM provides a comprehensive plan and corresponding legislative proposals, legislators said the appropriations committees will “maintain the existing prohibitions and reduce the resources available for the program.”

The BLM is working on the “final stages of developing a plan to Congress” describing “several management options aimed at putting the Wild Horse and Burro Program back on a sustainable and fiscally responsible track,” Amber Cargile, BLM’s acting national spokeswoman, told E&E News.

This strong statement expresses Congress’ continued frustration with the growth of wild horse and burro populations, the cost of sustaining current management practices and the political challenges facing the program. The administration’s recent budget proposals have also expressed a need for policy and management changes.

The House Appropriations Committee made changes to wild horse and burro management in its FY18 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill in an attempt to improve the program’s outcomes, but this bill never made it to the Senate.\

“The status quo still isn’t working for our wild horses and burros, the ecology on the range, or the American taxpayers” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-California, chairman of the House appropriations subpanel on interior department spending told the Associated Press.

As of March 2017, the BLM estimated more than 73,000 wild horses and burros existed across 27 million acres of federal herd management areas in 10 western states. More than 45,000 additional horses and burros are held in off-range corrals and pastures. This is 90,000 more animals than the agency’s established population objective, known as the Appropriate Management Level, of less than 27,000. AML is set in land use management plans based on the health of the rangelands, and in balance with other uses on the range including wildlife and livestock grazing. When populations exceed this level, the ecologically feral species negatively impact the rangelands.

In 2016, The Wildlife Society testified at a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing, expressing the need for more active management of wild horse and burro populations. The National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board has also expressed frustrations with the program and made strong recommendations to change the current management paradigm at its previous meetings.

http://wildlife.org/congress-demands-wild-horse-and-burro-plan-from-blm/

Exposed: Horse Hater “Dinky” Zinke’s shell game to undermine Interior career employees and civil servants

by as published on Western Values Project

Interior Inspector General’s report released on “Dinky’s” reassignments

“Can’t afford to be surrounded by staff smarter than me, could make me look like a DINK!”

The Interior’s Inspector General released a report on Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s politically motivated efforts to reassign career civil servants at the department. The report found that there was no plan or reason for the reassignments, which follow a long list of other ethical lapses by the Secretary.

According to the report, of the 31 reassigned employees who were interviewed, only 8 had positive perceptions of their reassignment, while “17 senior executives selected for reassignment questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive, based on a prior conflict with DOI leadership, or on the senior executive’s nearness to retirement. Many executives speculated that multiple reasons applied.” The report concluded that Interior officials should create a plan with criteria, document the reassignment process and consult with department leadership among other recommendations.

Western Values Project’s Executive Director Chris Saeger released the following statement on the report:

“This report confirms what we already knew – Ryan Zinke thinks there’s one set of rules for himself and another for everyone else.

Secretary Zinke has failed at just about every turn as the nation’s leading land manager, and this report is just one of many examples of his attempts to politicize the way our nation’s outdoor heritage is cared for. Much like the lack of documentation on his questionable travel expenses, Zinke seems to be skirting the law by failing to document his actions.

What is really hard to understand is how someone like Zinke is now attacking the very civil servants and career employees that ensure our national parks and public lands are maintained and managed now and for future generations.

Given his continued contempt for the career employees he now manages and how he’s stacked the deck for special interests, it is not hard to imagine that morale at the department is at rock bottom.”

Stacking the deck at Interior:

Western Values Project (WVP) has been documenting Interior’s revolving-door between lobbyist and appointees under Zinke at www.departmentofinfluence.org.

After a WVP Freedom of Information request, Interior released of the names of the Executive Resources Board (ERB), which was entirely comprised of political appointees until Interior included two career employees in November 2017. Interior has not released the current makeup of the board to determine if it is indeed ‘nonpartisan.’

One of the new employees on the board had previously been appointed to a Deputy Director position under President Bush and was involved in several controversial decisions, including mountaintop removal, that benefited industry. The other new board member was part of Interior’s efforts to scrap the 2015 hydraulic fracturing rule.

WVP filed suit against Interior in federal court to force the disclosure of documents related to the board’s work.

Contempt for career civil servants:

Zinke called civil servants ‘serpents’ when suggesting he’d like to privatize campgrounds across the nation’s national parks.

He told an oil industry group that he had ‘30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag.’

Zinke threatened to eliminate 4,000 employees at Interior through draconian budget cuts. A memo from the acting director of the Bureau Land Management (BLM) was sent to employees saying that they should expect to lose 1,000 positions by 2017.

The IG investigation was opened in September 2017 regarding the “extraordinary and politically suspect reassignment of dozens of Senior Executive Service (SES) members.”

Is the Government Destroying the American West Ecosystem by Favoring Cattle Over Wild Horses?

by as published on OneGreenPlanet.org

“Wild horses play a crucial role in keeping the ecosystem of the west balanced…”

Welfare Cattle herded into Antelope Complex as wild horses are being rounded up ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation


Imagine walking through a trail alongside the golden grasses of an open prairie in the Western United States when all of the sudden you are stopped frozen by the sound of a thunderous noise of hooves approaching from a distance. As you listen closely, you hear whinnying and soon, the herd is within your sight. With their power, grace, and majesty, horses can aesthetically make any landscape appear beautiful.

But horses also have a much greater purpose, as they help to physically maintain and benefit the health of prairie ecosystems. Millions of horses once roamed free in the Wild West. Unfortunately, by the time the first federal wild free-roaming horse protection law was enacted in 1959, the mustang population had already been drastically reduced. This law only prohibited hunting horses with the help of motor vehicles.

While the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is now the primary authority that manages wild horse populations. However, the BLM favors cattle interests over that of the wild horse which has lead to the steady decline of the wild horse population. Wild horses play a crucial role in keeping the ecosystem of the west balanced.

Managing Horse Populations to Benefit Cattle

In certain locations, natural horse predators, such as wolves, are now scarce and as a result, the BLM is “concerned” with regulating horse populations to avoid competition with land for domestic cattle. To manage the horses, the bureau issues roundups of wild horses to transfer them to a captive lifestyle. Their methods are often considered inhumane. For example, in 2014, the BLM poorly planned a roundup of approximately 800 horses from private and public lands. Ten died in the process, including four foals and the horses all experienced immense stress and discomfort (not to mention they lost one of the most valued ideals of America – freedom). Approximately 270,000 horses have been removed from U.S. land since 1971.

Furthermore, supply has exceeded demand for selling captured horses for an adoption fee of $125 and most horses end up at auction where they can be purchased for any use the buyer the wishes … sadly most of the time this means they are sold to slaughter for meat.

In order to validate their actions, the BLM has claimed that horses are overpopulating, while destroying critical habitat. Where is this evidence? Nobody knows … We do, however, have ecological evidence of how horses benefit their environment.

Horses Versus Cattle: Benefits of Horses for the Environment

While the BLM is concerned with avoiding grazing competition between wild horses and domestic cattle, there seems to be lack of attention toward addressing the impacts cattle are having on the environment. The ratio of cattle to wild horses on public lands is fifty to one. Wild horses are critical architects of the western ecosystem, so rather than wasting tax dollars funding roundups, if the BLM is really concerned with protecting public lands they should instead focus on protecting horses.

To illustrate the benefits of the presence of the wild horse, let’s look at comparison to how horses affect their ecosystem versus cattle.

1. Maintaining Grass 

While cattle do not have upper teeth and use their tongues to wrap around grass to pull it from the roots, horses only graze the tops of grass blades, allowing grasses to regrow in a healthier state.

2. Improving Soil Quality

Unlike cattle, horses are not ruminants and therefore, do not have four sections of their stomach. This means that their waste contains more nutrients. When horses defecate, they give back to the land through enhancing soil quality. Cattle operations often cause water pollution due to waste containing hormones, antibiotics, heavy metals, ammonia, and pathogens. Many animals depend on horse manure to help maintain soil moisture to prevent brush fires.

3. Use of Water Resources

While cattle enjoy chilling out by water sources, horses are respectful of their ecosystem. Instead of causing erosion and scaring away species diversity (like cattle do), horses tend to drink and move on, leaving minimal impact on stream habitats.

4. Grazing Habits

Since horses are travelers and cattle prefer to just hang out, horses do not exhaust grazing areas like cattle do. Horses are also picky about what they eat and avoid consuming pretty flowers, allowing wild flowers to survive. If a horse consumes seeds, they can still germinate after being passed and thus, horses act as important sources of dispersal for plant species.

5. Lending a Hand to Other Species

In cold climates, many animals will follow the path of horses in order to find access to food and water. The powerful hooves of a horse have the ability to break through ice, making streams once again potable for other animals. Furthermore, horses can make their way to grasses through deep snow, allowing other animals to also graze where horses have been.

Grazing cattle, on the other hand, pose a threat to 14 percent of endangered animal species and 33 percent of plant species as they encroach further into their territory.

Stop Roundups to Save Horses

Cattle are given priority over land because ranchers pay a tax to the BLM for every head of cattle they graze on public lands. The myth that the wild horse poses too much competition to cattle is a simple lie used to justify their systematic removal. It would not be far off to say that cows have become an invasive species in the West, leading to the downfall of keystone species who help to keep the native ecosystem healthy.

Criticism grows over Ryan “Dinky” Zinke’s pick to head wildlife service

“”Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal,”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is appointing a top critic of endangered species protections the head of the agency charged with protecting the critters, while moving to remove protections from nearly 300 animals.

Susan Combs was supposed to serve as Zinke’s undersecretary for policy, but because of holdups in the Senate, he has chosen to appoint her as the acting head of the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The decision was taken last month, but news outlets began pointing out her hostility toward the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday. The Washington Post cited a statement in which she likened an animal being placed on the endangered list to a “Scud missile” — the weapon of choice of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The Interior Department said Combs will serve as the acting assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife, until a deal can be reached to confirm her as the agency’s top policy official.

But that didn’t stop conservation groups and activists from pointing out Combs’ lack of compatibility with the goals of the Endangered Species Act.

“Putting Combs in charge of the Fish and Wildlife Service is like appointing an arsonist as the town fire marshal,” said Stephanie Kurose, an endangered species specialist with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The group is suing the Trump administration for the harm posed to species by President Trump’s proposed border wall.

The group on Wednesday used the media attention gathering against Combs to underscore a proposed rule that it argues would remove protections from almost 300 species.

The proposed rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget on Monday for preliminary review. The rule would remove the blanket application for the Endangered Species Act’s section 4(d) decisions, which are used by the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate a species as threatened. The 4(d) designation is typically one step away from listing a species as endangered under the law.

“The Trump administration just issued a death sentence to nearly 300 threatened species,” said Noah Greenwald, the conservation group’s endangered species director. “If enacted, this rule could be the end for iconic wildlife like the northern spotted owl and southern sea otter.”

Welfare Ranchers Get More Grazing Flexibility With New Program

as published on KUER.org

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory…”

Following Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke‘s repeated calls for more management of public lands, this spring the Bureau of Land Management is giving certain ranchers more say and options in grazing their cattle on public lands.

Say there’s a spring with lots of rain and the grass is long and lush into June. A rancher might want to let his cows graze on those lands longer than in a dry year. Right now, the rancher probably can’t do that. But in test projects in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado that’s changing.

“We get so tied up in rigid format and regulation, that we just couldn’t respond like we needed to,” said Ken Crane, a field manager with the BLM in Burley, Idaho. “It would frustrate everybody.”

Crane says flexibility is especially important after wildfires, when cows may need to be moved around.

But some environmental groups are skeptical.

“More flexibility is code for relaxing or eliminating environmental safeguards and standards that are mandatory,” said Erik Molvar with Western Watersheds Project.

The BLM is working with 11 ranchers across the West to pilot the program.

http://kuer.org/post/ranchers-get-more-grazing-flexibility-new-program#stream/0

The Lives of More Than 45,000 Wild Horses Are Still at Risk as Congress Waits for the Bureau of Land Management’s Plan

Source:  wildhoofbeats.com

by Carol J. Walker, Director Of Field Documentation, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

I want to personally thank all of you who called, emailed, faxed, wrote and met with your Senators and Representatives on behalf of our wild horses and burros before the Spending Bill was passed last week.  Congress did maintain protections for wild horses and burros BUT they demanded that the Bureau of Land Management, who is tasked with managing and protecting wild horse and burros on our public lands submit a “comprehensive plan and any corresponding legislative proposals” within 30 days.

Why is this a reason for concern?  Because the very language of the directive to the BLM points at drastic measure.  “the failure to address these problems is irresponsible and will result in irreparable damage to the landscape and the welfare of the animals protected.”

This leaves the door wide open for the BLM to recommend killing (this is NOT “euthanasia”) the 45,000 wild horses and burros in holding as well as the 45,000 still on our public lands who are deemed “excess”and allowing the BLM to to remove protections from wild horses and burros that are in captivity and transfer them to federal, state, and local agencies, send them overseas and put them in “partnerships” that are not in their best interests.  All of these alternatives will expose them to possibly being shipped to slaughter.

Wild Horses and Burros need to be humanely managed on the range, while wild and free on our public lands. Destroying them to pander to the Cattleman’s Association is not the solution.  We are concerned that once the report is delivered to Congress before the end of April that the BLM could start killing and transferring wild horses and burros very quickly.

Please continue to follow our alerts and posts and requests for action during this very crucial time.

To find out more about Wild Horse Freedom Federation and our work to keep wild horses and burros wild and free on our public lands visit

www.WildHorseFreedomFederation.org

Donate Here: http://wildhorsefreedomfederation.org/donate/

Wild horse population wildly exaggerated

Beatys Butte 2015 wild horse roundup (photo:  BLM)

SOURCE:  heraldandnews.com

by Marybeth Devlin

Arbitrary management level (AML): The “overpopulation” of wild horses is a concocted crisis.

Per the 438,140 acres — 685 square miles — of mustang habitat, BLM manages the Beatys Butte herd down to the AML’s low end — 100 — restricting the stocking density to one wild horse per 4,381 acres — almost seven square miles!

Sparsely populated, widely dispersed: Other herds in Oregon besides Beatys Butte are similarly restricted.

 One wild horse per 4,500 acres — seven square miles — Warm Springs.

One wild horse per 5,062 acres — 8 square miles — Paisley Desert.

Most grazing slots given to cattle: Within Beatys Butte — where wild horses are, by law, supposed to receive principal benefit of resources — livestock occupy 90 percent of the grazing slots — called “animal unit months” (AUMs).

Normative annual herd-growth equals at most, 5%: Gregg, LeBlanc, and Johnston (2014) disclosed the average birth rate among wild-horse herds is 20 percent, but 50 percent of foals perish.  The population-gain from surviving foals (10 percent) minus a conservative estimate of adult-mortality (5 percent) equals a normative herd-growth rate of 5 percent.

Fictitious figures: BLM’s herd-growth figures are falsified.  Repeatedly, BLM reports one-year increases far beyond what is biologically possible.

From Oregon:

  • 170 percent — 34 times the norm — Stinking Water.
  • 179 percent — 36 times the norm — Paisley Desert.
  • 256 percent — 51 times the norm — Beatys Butte **
  • 317 percent — 63 times the norm — Jackies Butte

** BLM reported that the Beatys Butte population grew from 117 horses to 416 horses in one year, an increase of 299.  If so, to overcome foal-mortality (50 percent) and adult-mortality (at least 5 percent), that would mean each filly and mare gave birth to 10 or more foals.

Overpopulation is a false flag: Excess is found only on BLM’s falsified spreadsheets.

 

We Bought the Ponies Some Time, So Whats Next?

OpEd by Susan Wagner, President of Equine Advocates

“It’s not over until it is OVER!”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Now that the new spending bill has passed with the language we needed to temporarily protect America’s wild and domestic equines, where do we go from here?

Thanks to the friends horses have on The Hill, especially our champion, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico who led the charge to protect them, as well as the passion and persistence of so many of you who took the time to call and send faxes to your lawmakers, the status quo, at least for now, has been maintained.

a. Horse meat inspectors will remain defunded so that horse slaughterhouses cannot open and operate in this country.

b. Wild horses and burros will not lose the minimal amount of protection they still have so that the ones being held captive in BLM holding facilities will not be executed and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will not be able to authorize their sale “without limitation,” which means slaughter.

That was all good.

However, in order to move forward, we need:

1. A Federal Ban on Horse Slaughter with Strong Language for Enforcement and Stiff Penalties.

– It is doubtful that a stand-alone animal bill will ever pass this Congress. In fact, the closest this country ever came to passing a federal bill banning horse slaughter was in 2006 with the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act which passed in the House but was blocked in the Senate. The good that did result from that bill even though it did not become law, was the addition of language defunding horse meat inspectors to our federal spending bills as a way to prevent horse slaughterhouses from reopening here. That language does not prevent live equines from being shipped over our borders into Mexico and Canada for slaughter, but at least the numbers of horse going over are down to an estimated 100,000 annually. That’s still way too many, but if slaughter plants were to reopen here, those numbers would balloon to 250,000-350,000 a year because indiscriminate and over-breeding would explode, just as was the case in the 1980’s and 1990’s when horse slaughterhouses still operated here. The last one closed its doors in 2007 and at least the defund language has kept horse slaughter from returning to U.S. soil. When President Obama was still in office, several attempts were made to attach language banning horse slaughter to other federal bills, but none got to the floor for a vote. We hope that powerful lawmakers who care will try that again. Otherwise we will be right back to where we were all over again fighting to add language to defund horse meat inspectors to the next federal spending bill and have to repeat this process all over again and hope it doesn’t go the other way.

2. A Complete Change in the Current Policy for Wild Horses and Burros With a Return to the Provisions Passed in the “Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burrs Act of 1971.”

– Wild horse and burro issues are at a standstill and there is no hope for any real progress unless we have an interior Secretary who is interested in working to protect and preserve them. Clearly, Ryan Zinke is not. In fact, he is driving them to extinction, as has been the case with several of his predecessors. What we need is an end to the round-ups, an end to deliberately destroying the viability of the herds by stockpiling more and more captured animals in BLM holding facilities. The ones still in captivity need to be returned to the range. Right now, unless we have allies on our side who control money – meaning that they have the attention of lawmakers because they are powerful and part of business and industry equal to those on the other side in ranching, (the Cattlemen) and fossil fuels, hunting interests, etc., we will get nowhere. What we do have is 80% of the American People who are in favor of protecting and preserving these animals, but the different proposed plans by which to achieve that goal never seem gain any traction, especially when “welfare ranchers” believe they are entitled to use, ruin and deplete the range lands for their own greed and profit. These are not small family ranchers. No, these are the big, factory industrialized businesses that deal with millions of head of cattle and do not care if our wild horses and burros are destroyed, along with other native species.

…So where do we go from here? Think about it.
There’s a lot of work to be done.