Moratorium on Horse Gathers is untenable says Bob Abbey

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Cross-posted from Roll Call

Special to Roll Call
Written by BOB ABBEY

Bob Abbey
Bob Abbey

In recent months, many Members of Congress have received e-mails, letters and phone calls from wild horse activists. These activists are waging an aggressive campaign, both in the federal courts and in the court of public opinion, that is aimed at stopping the Bureau of Land Management from gathering wild horses and burros from overpopulated herds on Western public rangelands.

With herd sizes growing at an average rate of 20 percent a year (thus doubling in size every four years), these removals are necessary to protect wildlife habitat, the horses themselves and the public rangelands from the environmental effects of herd overpopulation.

As it stands now, the free-roaming herd population of 38,400 exceeds by nearly 12,000 the number that the BLM has determined can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses.

Unfortunately, the public’s demand for adoptable and sale-eligible wild horses has declined sharply in recent years, leaving more than 34,000 off-the-range animals in corrals and pastures that must be kept running with taxpayer dollars — accounting for more than half the BLM’s current wild horse and burro budget of $63.9 million. (It should be noted that all wild horses and burros in holding, like those roaming the public rangelands, are protected by the BLM under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.)

Because of the BLM’s spiraling off-the-range holding costs and the formidable challenge of dealing with unadopted horses, the Government Accountability Office recently found our agency’s wild horse program to be at a “critical crossroads.” In response, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and I announced an initiative last October as the first step toward putting the Wild Horse and Burro Program on a sustainable course.

The public has been invited to help shape this initiative by offering ideas to a Strategy Development Document that is posted on the BLM’s home page and is open for comment until Sept. 3. Everything is on the table for discussion except two things: (1) the euthanasia of excess healthy horses for which there is no adoption demand and (2) the unrestricted sale of unadopted animals.

Although these controversial management authorities exist in the 1971 wild horse law, as amended, the Interior Department and the BLM will not consider those management options as part of the new strategy under development.

As work on this new management strategy unfolds, it is regrettable that false claims, misleading statements and false characterizations about the BLM’s actions, motives and intentions relating to wild horse management are circulated on virtually a daily basis on the Internet by activists seeking a moratorium on wild horse roundups.

Such a moratorium is untenable. It would be devastating to the health of public rangelands and would be contrary to Section 1333 of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, which directs the BLM to determine whether an overpopulation of wild horses and burros exists, and, when making such a finding, to “immediately remove excess animals from the range so as to achieve appropriate management levels.”

Lawmakers and their constituents concerned about wild horse issues should visit the BLM’s home page (blm.gov) for accurate, timely information on the BLM’s management of wild horses and burros. There they will find a link to detailed information on all aspects of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, including real-time information about ongoing or upcoming horse gathers.

One Web page, “Myths and Facts,” debunks false allegations against the BLM, such as the claim that the bureau is selling or sending wild horses to slaughter. In fact, the GAO noted in an October 2008 report that the BLM is not in compliance with a December 2004 amendment to the 1971 wild horse law that directs the bureau to sell excess horses or burros “without limitation.” The BLM has also established a presence on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to maximize our outreach to the American people on wild horse and other public land management issues.

The BLM respects the passion shown by activists pushing for a moratorium on wild horse roundups, but the debate over proper management must not be distorted by allegations and characterizations that have no factual basis.

The bureau is committed to the well-being of America’s wild horses and burros, both on and off the range. By working to achieve appropriate management levels on Western public rangelands, the BLM will ensure that healthy herds can thrive on healthy public rangelands, both now and for generations to come.

View Article at RollCall.com

24 thoughts on “Moratorium on Horse Gathers is untenable says Bob Abbey”

  1. BLM’s Director Ron Abbey says:

    Unfortunately, the public’s demand for adoptable and sale-eligible wild horses has declined sharply in recent years, leaving more than 34,000 off-the-range animals in corrals and pastures that must be kept running with taxpayer dollars …

    Anne’s comment: so if you know there is less demand; why keep gathering them?

    Why not go a new route and create US Public Mustang and Burro Sanctuaries ? duh?

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  2. another problem I have with the BLM is the way they say:

    “The Mustang herds double in size every 4 years…; so the blm must gather them;

    Actually the truth is: The Mustang herds get exessive because: AFTER EVERY ROUNDUP THE BLM “SECRETLY AND STRATEGICALLY places A MINI HERD OF WILD MUSTANG STALLIONS INTO THE HMA THEY JUST GATHERED….

    By the BLM placing the “mini herd of Stallions to the HMA after the roundups; the BLM “Breeds Mustangs on public lands to round up adopt; pasture or sell @ auction…

    BLM = The Bureau of Lying Maniacs aka The Bureau of Lying Wranglers…STOP BLM

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  3. THE BLM ADOPTS; PASTURES AND SELLS MUSTANGS AND BURROS TO HIGHEST BIDDER IN THEIR “SALE AUTHORITY HIGHEST BID AUCTION…

    comment: Not only does the BLM “harrass; confine and destroy some of the older Mustangs or those young’uns who might have a bad eye or a bad hoof; however…what most people don’t know is: THE BLM SELLS THE MUSTANGS @ an online Auction!

    so as bad as to Sell Mustangs; these Hooligans BLM actually “have a Mustang Auction!

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  4. Sure..maybe the BLM isn’t DIRECTLY selling horses to slaughter but who’s to say they aren’t selling to SOMEONE who IS…..I have seen Mustangs – not halter broke who were run through the sale ring in a group, and selling as a group…said horses having freezebrand marks on their necks. I suppose the horses put them on their necks themselves….Why not have something akin to the Chincoteague Pony swim? NO CHOPPERS….!! NO SHOOTING !! NO RUNNING HORSES OFF OF CLIFFS !!! NO RUNNING HORSES TO THEIR DEATHS DUE TO STRESSFUL PRACTICES !!!

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  5. Its strange that not one judge in the court cases so far about stopping the roundups has paid any attention to what they are being told about how cruel and illegal these roundups are. I think that as soon as the BLM finds out which judge will hear the case I think the judge is contacted and told to not allow the roundups to be stopped. It’s either Abby himself or Salazar. It’s possible it might be coming also from someone in the Agriculture Department. We have no idea who all of these people are but someone is stepping in and blocking these court cases to make sure the horses lose.

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    1. You are right Barb. Since when can you try to hoodwink a federal judge or offer perjured testimony with no sanctions or contempt charges? If you or I did it, we would be under the jail.

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  6. I would like to ask Bob Abbey that if he thinks Horses devastate the Public Lands, What in the heck does he think the Cattle do???? If he wants to talk devastation to the public lands He should Talk Cattle not Horses………………….Horses have been on Public Land for many many years and never to this day have they caused devastated land………….. But cattle well we all know they devastate the Land in a Heartbeat………….. BLM talks with fork tongue……………………….Just who does the BLM think they are spouting these unfounded rediculous statements they are making to??????????????? The BLM continues to dig a deeper hole for themselves daily…………………………………

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  7. The lies and Betrayals at the BLM have not stopped, Bob Abbey lies and then swears to it, he is dedicated to the destruction of our Wild Mustangs and he wont budge an inch……………………… All the afore opinions above are correct…………….. He does not give one little care about the Mustangs , he refers to them as Rats with hooves,after that statement of his , I would never believe that he is anything other then he and the BLM have proved to be, Hell Bent to destroy the Mustangs…………. Right infront of all of our faces………..

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  8. ABBEY IS SAYING THE SAME OLD THING OVER AGAIN THAT THE BLM HAS SAID FOR THE PAST YEARS AND NOTHING WAS DONE. IT IS THE REGULAR PEOPLE WHO HAVE BECOME AWARE OF HOW THE BLM IS MANAGING THE WILD HORSES AND THEIR TERRIBLE ROUNDUPS. THE PEOPLE ARE NOT SLEEPING ANYMORE AND ARE SICKENED BY WHAT IS TAKING PLACE. NO ACTIVISTS IS TO BE BLAMED FOR THE POOR MANAGEMENT OF THE HEAD OFFICES IN DC THEY ARE THE ONES WHO HAVE AWAKENED THE PEOPLE AND WE SHOULD THANKING THEM. HOW MUCH MORE LAND THAT BELONGS TO THE HORSES IS THE BLM SELLING TO PRIVATE CORPORATIONS. LOOK AT THE “CHALLIS” AND YOU WILL SEE.

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  9. How is it that the land is so capable of handling so many cattle but so few horses in comparison? Because the cattle have owners with deep pockets to buy politicians who will make false statements and claims.

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    1. Amen Kathryn. The only myths are the so-called facts the BLM puts out there to justify their continued destruction of our wild horses and burros.

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  10. Apart from some of the other debatable points in his letter…and some definite mis-information about assessments of population and allocation, I would like to point out one fact he has wrong that colours his whole argument, and the debate as a whole…he says all the emails and the campaigns are from, by and about activists…I think he will find that an awful lot of the people involved are simply concerned citizens in the States and beyond…people who would not consider themselves activists, but simply members of the public who are outraged by what he and his agency are doing to horses and burros…without accurate environmental assessments and census taking and without, until now, public input…which they made as difficult as possible.

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    1. I am not an activist. I am though, one of the people who have been reading about “stampeding” horses and some of their newborns across hot dry conditions by low flying helicopters … “for their own good.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that there is something gravely wrong here.

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