Guest Op-Ed by Vicki Tobin ~ Vice President of The Equine Welfare Alliance
The famous words of Mahatma Gandhi ring truer today than ever before. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Throughout US history we have progressed and prospered as a nation. Until now. We seem to have forgotten our roots and are moving backwards. We have forgotten the basics of life and how we became a leading nation. One of the most visible declines in our country is our treatment of animals, in particular, our equines.
We have organizations that claim to be for horse welfare and then take their tax deductible donations to lobby (excuse me, their websites claim that they educate legislators) for the demise of horses. It wasn’t enough with the domestic horses but now they want to slaughter the wild horses. They want to slaughter our American heritage.
Mr. Salazar and Mr. Abbey, we are paying your salary. Without our tax dollars, you wouldn’t be employed. That makes you employees of the taxpayers. Since when do employees not have to answer to their employers? Our tax dollars fund the wild horse and burro program. The wild horses are owned by the American people. We pay for them and we deserve to be heard and listened to.
Why are all the round-ups now being conducted on private land? We are paying for the round-ups and should be able to observe our tax dollars at work. We already foot the bill for over two hundred millions of acres of public land so why are you wasting more of our money by using private land? What don’t you want us to see?
The tax paying American citizens passed a law in 1971 that states you are to manage the wild horses and burros, not exterminate them. We do not want our tax dollars going to a PR firm that is trying to make you look warm and fuzzy while you are removing horses by the thousands. We are not paying your salaries so you can give us bogus numbers that change every time you speak. We want accurate reports. We want numbers that can be validated. If you can’t do that, don’t you think it’s time to put on the brakes until you can?
We pay hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize livestock grazing on public lands. And yet, when we ask for the number of livestock vs. horses in the herd areas, we are given dozens of websites to click through, told to call individual local offices and can never find the information. Why isn’t there a map that depicts every herd area, the number of the wildlife and the number of livestock? If you don’t have that at your fingertips, how are you managing the ranges?
Even if we accept your numbers that keep changing of anywhere between 32,000 – 38,000 horses still on the range, help us understand how that is over populated compared to millions of livestock? If the ranges can’t sustain the horses, how can it sustain millions of livestock?
Sorro, only days old and neglected by BLM after Calico death roundup - Sorro destroyed by BLM ~ Photo by Laura Leigh
How did you arrive at 2 deaths at Calico? You reported 7 deaths at the trap site, 39 aborted foals, 111 at the facility and 3 foals (that we know of) that were lost when the mares had to be euthanized giving birth. On my calculator that totals to 160.
The BLM claimed at the last meeting that the livestock fees don’t cover the cost of EISs and blamed Congress for setting the fees. Are you trying to tell us that Congress just pulls a number out of the air without input from the DOI and BLM?
Why is it that you begged Congress for more money for horses in holding pens and then used it to remove more horses but you can’t ask for an increase in fees so you can assess the ranges before renewing or issuing new livestock leases?
We are asked for input and then ignored. Thousands and thousands of comments and always the same answer; no impact. Equine advocates have been screaming for years to appoint someone to the board that is not biased and knowledgeable on wild horses. And what do you do, appoint more cattle ranchers. We get the message. We understand a middle finger salute when we see one.
The final straw was inviting a state representative to the December meeting that is an embarrassment to this country. We are fighting for the survival of America’s wild horses and burros and you invite someone that wants to slaughter anything with four legs that moves. Even the moderator couldn’t stop her rambling at the last meeting. We are not going to allow our heritage to be destroyed and eaten.
How did we get here and what has happened to our country?
What an embarrassment that Canada had to introduce legislation to ban horse slaughter for human consumption because our government continues to let horses flow over the borders that are not safe for human consumption. Why is our government allowing foreign industries to slaughter our non-food animals?
Change? Change? We don't need no stinkin change!
Our horses are not raised as food animals. We have no tracking system and no way to remove horses that have received prohibited substances. What a message we are sending to the rest of the world on consumer food safety because of the few that refuse to take responsibility for their equines and a government that won’t take action.
I would like to thank you and the state representative for one thing, you have united equine advocates as we have never been before. We are going to continue our fight to end horse slaughter and to reinstate protections for our wild horses and burros.
Animal advocates from across the country rallied behind Obama and a new government. Change. Oh, we got change alright but not what we expected…