George Knapp, who has been a voice crying out from the wilderness on the wild horse and burros issue for some years, published a report yesterday that includes an interview with U.S. Interior Ken Salazar.
Here’s the introduction to the interview and first exchange:
The Sheldon refuge is controlled not by the BLM, but by the Fish and Wildlife Agency, and that agency figures it does not have to abide by the same laws that offer minimal protection to mustangs on BLM land. Both agencies are under the Department of the Interior, so we wanted to ask the head guy, the Secretary of Interior, “What’s the deal?” Our I-Team colleague Steve Sebelius interviewed Secretary Ken Salazar via satellite about the roundup.
Sebelius: Why clear the horses from that refuge?
Salazar: You know, Steve, I’m not familiar with that particular issue.
Not familiar with a massive sweep through 575,000 acres of land that his department controls? Why is that not a surprise?
Among the questions and answers is this observation:
The justification for BLM roundups is often pretty weak. The government sets an arbitrary number of horses the range can support, and it goes after the rest, always making sure to leave private cattle out there to chomp away. But the Sheldon roundup seems even more specious. Ostensibly, Fish and Wildlife says it needs to remove horses to protect the 2,500 antelope living there. But in the next sentence the agency says the antelope have never been better. They’ve doubled in number while living side by side with the mustangs, which raises an obvious question: Why must the horses be removed? And why do they not remove private cattle instead?
This is of course not news to long-time wild horse and burros advocates who are highly knowledgeable despite the incredible lack of transparency by the federal government and its agencies. However, we are grateful that Knapp and his colleagues continue to bang the gong on this issue.
The article carries this disturbing reminder:
But the truly grim news is this: Fish and Wildlife says it is not governed by the same laws that control BLM. Any horses gathered by BLM must be kept and, if possible, put up for adoption. They’re not supposed to be sold. That will not be the case for the Sheldon horses. In fact, it looks like the feds have already found a buyer and, from one report, it looks like this is the same buyer known for shipping thousands of horses to Mexican slaughter plants.
George Knapp is a reporter for CBS News Now KLAS-TV Ch. 8 Las Vegas