Environmental group joins hunting lobby in government sponsored assault on Nevada’s Mustangs

What fuels this alliance?

Source: The Cloud Foundation Press Release

Colorado Springs, CO (January 17, 2010)—During today’s protest in New York City, The Cloud Foundation asks why has the Nevada Sierra Club joined in a bizarre alliance with the powerful international trophy-hunting lobby, Safari Club International (SCI), whose work to lift hunting bans worldwide often diminishes protections for wildlife. In announcing their support for the current inhumane and costly removal of 80-90% of the Calico wild horses in Northern Nevada, The Sierra Club spokesperson has failed to acknowledge that the essential cause of degradation of public lands is livestock use—not wild horses. One must ask: why the alliance? Is it forged on more than livestock? Are there energy moguls making deals behind the scenes?

Upon accepting the position as Secretary of Interior Salazar announced, “I look forward to helping build our clean energy economy, modernize our interstate electrical grid, and ensure that we are making wise use of our conventional natural resources, including coal, oil, and natural gas.”

The Safari Club sung praises for Obama’s appointment of Salazar for Secretary of the Department of Interior. Obviously the powerful SCI lobby has been actively backing Salazar for a long time.

Senator Salazar’s pro-hunting votes over the past four years in Washington, and his support for access to federal lands for hunting throughout his entire career in Colorado will prove to be invaluable for sportsmen and women during this Administration” said SCI President Merle Shepard continuing with “SCI looks forward to working with Senator Salazar in the Obama Administration to make sure the hunter’s voice is heard on every issue that affects hunting, hunters or science-based wildlife management.”

The half-million acre Calico Complex herd management area is the last stronghold of the American mustang and was designated by Congress principally for the use of wild horses and burros.

Scapegoating wild horses and burros for range deterioration must stop—they comprise only a tiny fraction of the animals and grazing wildlife on our public lands. Millions of head of livestock graze public lands at a cost of $1.35/cow-calf pair/month. Overall public lands grazing constitutes a net loss of $123 million annually to the American tax payer following administrative costs while economists estimate the total damage at $500 million to $1 billion annually.

Cows graze within a mile of water; in comparison, wild horses are highly mobile, moving 5-10 miles from water and grazing on more rugged terrain. The BLM has failed to sustainably balance use of the “forage,” water, and space through adequate control of cattle on public land. Not only do cows eat more than 26lbs. of forage daily, but they consume as much as 30 gallons of water a day and defecate in it as well. Private and corporate livestock outnumber wild horses at least 100 to 1 on public lands.

North America’s “green” wild horses are a return-native prey species beautifully integrated with their environment, as opposed to resource-damaging exotic livestock. We are advocating for the preservation of entire ecosystems in which the wild horse plays a vital role,” states Ginger Kathrens, Naturalist and Emmy-award winning filmmaker and creator of the popular PBS Cloud Wild Horse Documentaries.

Responding to the Sierra Club’s statement that arid rangelands can’t produce enough food for wild horses, Kathrens continues, “It doesn’t square to say that the range can’t support a few thousand “green” wild horses and yet can support millions of head of destructive domestic livestock.”

In January 2008 Western Watersheds filed a court appeal against the new and BLM approved grazing proposal for Nevada’s Soldier Meadows allotment. Testimony on May 13, 2009 from Glenna Eckel, BLM’s Winnemucca Wild Horse & Burro Specialist, explained that she was surprised at the number of horses after a fly-over because the large population was not showing up in relation to their forage consumption.

BLM never balanced their new information on science and forage on the Calico wild horse herd. Yet the BLM moves forward regardless with the dead of winter roundup. Was it because the Ruby Project reported to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that BLM had said they would roundup horses for the gas line?

BLM increased the cow numbers. They misled the public about the horse numbers so they could increase the big rancher’s cattle and the amount of grass the cows could eat on public land. Then, when their own expert testified about the relative effect of the horses—BLM ignored that too. Now they are trying to do damage control to cover it all up. So from my perspective as a wildlife advocate—BLM took grass away from wildlife, and scapegoated the horses to cover it all up,” explained Katie Fite biologist and biodiversity specialist adding, “We need an investigation to get at the truth here.”

The Cloud Foundation and over 195 organizations, ecologists, authors and celebrities (Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Lily Tomlin and more) have called on President Obama to support federal grazing permit buybacks. The Unified Moratorium letter calls for reductions in livestock grazing and a subsequent reanalysis of appropriate management levels for herd management areas to allow for self-sustaining, genetically viable wild horse and burro herds to exist in the West.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Makendra Silverman
Tel: 719-351-8187

Anne Novak
Tel. 415-531-8454

Links of interest:

Ruby Pipeline Creates Infrastructure, Industry & has Harmful Environmental Impacts

Ruby Pipeline Information

Wyoming Tribune Article on Ruby Pipeline

Pipeline Map:

Western Watersheds Project

After campaigning for Obama, Sheryl Crow at odds over his administration’s wild-horse plan (Associated Press, Jan. 10)

Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.
America’s Disappearing Wild Horses
– A History

Frequently Asked Questions on Wild Horses

Stampede to Oblivion: An Investigate Report from Las Vegas Now (http://www.lasvegasnow.com/Global/story.asp?S=11285225)

Video Overview of Calico horses and current roundup

Unified Moratorium letter and signatories

Roundup Schedule- updated January 11, 2010

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