The million dollar question being pondered right now by wild horse and burro lovers is this: What does the Presidential race mean for wild horses? Voters want to make the right choice for the country, but horse lovers also want to make the right choice for America’s wild horses and burros too if we can. Our view is that either candidate could spell elimination.
Obama is the current President in his first term of office, and the Democratic candidate running for election to a second term. We know what his Administration has meant for our wild horses and burros.
During the Obama Administration, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the direction of U.S. Department of Interior Ken Salazar has conducted cruel, deadly and unnecessary roundups of our wild horses and burros at a an accelerated pace that takes your breath away. The BLM with Salazar’s approval has used every trick in the book from subterfuge to clearly illegal mismanagement of these national icons.
How long have we heard these words: There are more wild horses in BLM holding than on public lands. Well, it remains true, but the numbers are now more shocking than ever. Because of total lack of transparency by the federal government, it is challenging to arrive at exact numbers but reports are there are 75,000 in stockpiled in holding pens and on private ranches and only 15,000 left in the wild. Millions of wild horses and burros used to roam freely with no interference from man — because they need no interference — in ten western states.
Additionally, during the Obama/Salazar regime wild horses have been sold for slaughter by the thousands. A recent report revealed one particular horse trader dealing in wild horses is a Colorado man who sought funding from Salazar’s brother to open a horse slaughter plant.
Not long after, it was suggested through the Obama camp rumor mill that the President intends to fire Salazar and to hold our horses and wait for the announcement. We are still waiting while Obama shows public support for Salazar.
Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is more difficult to gauge on how he would handle the wild horses and burro issue though some insight can be gained.
Insofar as we can find, the Romney camp has given no indication who he might appoint as Secretary of the Interior or whether or not he would order a shake-up at the Bureau of Land Management.
Attempts to get Romney’s views on the America’s wild horse and burro issue have been unsuccessful. The only related public statement by Romney is he would leave it up to the States to make their own decision about horse slaughter. Moving the decision from whether or not to slaughter horses for human consumption from the Federal level to the State level looks to be a very important indicator.
The following statements taken from a ThinkProgress report is alarming on many levels, by particularly for America’s wild equines.
DENVER, Colorado — A key western congressman declared late last week that Mitt Romney supports his push to “reverse this trend of public ownership of lands.”
In a speech to the Colorado Conservative Political Action Conference, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) criticized Teddy Roosevelt’s “big ideas of big forests and big national parks,” which primarily exist in the West. Pearce told the audience that, if elected, Mitt Romney will help turn back public lands to the states or private entities.
Though Romney’s campaign has asserted that they’re not targeting national parks for further drilling, Pearce disputed the notion that they should be off-limits. “Constitutionally,” Pearce told ThinkProgress after the speech, decisions about drilling in national parks and other public-owned lands “should be left with the states.” Indeed, drilling is already underway in a number of parks, with dozens more threatened.
What does this mean for our wild horses and burros? No home for them on the range.
Though it may release America’s wild horses and burros from the brutal bureaucratic stranglehold of the BLM, from what we have already seen from the States’ behavior towards them where they live now — especially Nevada — how many of America’s wild equines will survive under their jurisdiction? We have seen from Nevada’s Virginia Range wild horses they have no problem sending them to slaughter.
And although federal protection has proven to be anything but protective during recent Administrations, handing them over to States to manage will mean little to zero protection. Is this the aim? Look at that quote carefully. It is not just about turning over public lands to States to manage. “Private entities” is also mentioned.
Regardless of approach, it looks as if the policies of both Presidential candidates regarding America’s treasured icons — the wild horses and burros — could mean this: total elimination.