All posts by VGrF

Horse advocate, animal lover, photographer, multi blogger, sports fan, creator of Hattingdon Horses and grateful vegan.

Wayback Machine: Conrad Burns considers ways to rid America of wild horses

Here’s an article we cross-posted on our original website in 2004 courtesy of web archivists, the Way Back Machine.

The seeds for wild horse destruction were already being sown by (the now late) Sen. Conrad Burns, who is no stranger to wild horse advocates. Burns was the mover and shaker behind the notorious 2004 Burns Amendment allowing unadopted wild horses to be sold to slaughter.

By TED MONOSON | Gazette Washington Bureau | April 30, 2004

Lawmakers are skeptical of the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to increase the amount of money spent on wild horse and burro management.

Western Republican lawmakers and BLM officials say the populations of wild horses and burros need to decrease. Environmental groups say the agency should reduce the numbers of domestic livestock that, like the wild horses and burros, graze on federal lands.

The budget proposal includes the management of the 38,000-acre Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range, about 60 miles south of Billings, which is managed by the BLM, although it also encompasses portions of Forest Service and National Park Service lands.

The agency is spending $29.1 million on the program this year and has offered a proposal to spend $39.6 million next year. The BLM spent $29.5 million on the program in 2003.

Rather than requesting that Congress provide an additional $10 million, the BLM proposed cutting an array of other programs.

Under the agency’s budget proposal, money would be shifted from 21 different programs to the wild horse and burro program.

The rangeland management program would suffer the biggest cut, losing slightly more than $1.9 million. Money also would be shifted away from maintenance, threatened and endangered species management and resource protection and law enforcement.

Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., chairman of the Senate panel that has jurisdiction over the BLM’s budget, is concerned about the agency’s proposal. Burns doesn’t think the amount of money the agency receives will solve the problem.

Burns is thinking of other ways to use the agency’s budget to change the program.

“I think what we should do is put some language in this thing that allows the BLM to sell excess wild horses,” Burns said. “I’d prefer to sell ’em to whomever. Maybe some of them will end up going to slaughter.” (emphasis added)

Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the agency is required to protect the animals. It may round up excess wild horses and burros and offer them for adoption but it may not simply sell them.

“Under the law we are provided with two options for handling excess horses,” BLM wild horse and burro group manager Jeff Rawson said. “One is adoption and the other is long term holding.”

The agency is holding about 21,000 wild horses and burros.

Rawson defended the agency’s handling of the animals and said the proposal to shift money from other programs would enable the BLM to get the wild horse and burro populations under control.

Rawson said there are about 38,000 wild horses and burros. In 2000, the populations were estimated to be 50,000. BLM studies say the appropriate population level is 28,000.

The 2005 budget request would enable the agency to begin its plan to remove 10,000 to 12,000 animals for the next two to three years and then 4,000 to 5,000 annually in future years. (emphasis added)

“We are trying to get to our appropriate management levels,” Rawson said.

The Fund for Animals filed a still-pending lawsuit in 2001 stating that the BLM must study the environmental impact of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The organization’s Rocky Mountain Coordinator Andrea Lococo said the BLM has only done “piecemeal” assessments of the program.

Lococo wants the program to get more money, but she says it needs to be overhauled.

“In terms of what they plan to use the money for, we have some real concerns,” Lococo said. “All they want to do is remove more wild horses.”

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

See it at the Way Back Machine

1 p, pdf

Conrad Burns: Wild horse enemy and author of deadly amendment that bears his name dead at 81

Emily Langer reporting on the death of former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns for The Washington Post writes:

“Conrad Burns, a onetime cattle auctioneer who parlayed his down-home appeal into three terms as a Republican senator from Montana, reaping federal dollars for his state as well as criticism for his impolitic, at times offensive, off-the-cuff remarks, died April 28 at his home in Billings, Mont. He was 81.

“The cause was complications from a stroke in 2009, said a daughter, Keely Godwin.

“Mr. Burns served from 1989 to 2007 in the Senate, where he made “weighty speeches on foreign policy and the future of the Internet,” it was observed in the Almanac of American Politics, even while cutting “the figure of a stereotypical Westerner, picking his teeth with a pocketknife, chewing tobacco, telling deadpan jokes.”

“He lost his seat in 2006 to a Democratic challenger, then-state Senate President Jon Tester, after revelations that Mr. Burns had received $150,000 in campaign contributions — among the highest amounts of any member of Congress — from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates.”

Read more »

The above gives you an idea of who Burns is if you didn’t know already. The rest of the story doesn’t mention his deadly relationship with America’s Mustangs.

Horse lovers know Mr. Burns as the author of the hideous Burns Amendment that doomed thousands of America’s wild horses to the slaughterhouse using devious methods and underhanded tactics to get it passed.

Read about Burns’ actions and his thoughts about them in a Tuesday’s Horse post from September 15, 2009.

• Read about one of the many destructive repercussions of the Burns Amendmment in “BLM Auctioning American Icons in Online Mustang Sale.”

Sen. Conrad Burns in his Capitol Hill office in 2005. (Adele Starr / Associated Press)

1 p, pdf

Complaint filed over plans for sterilization research on American wild horses

Wild horse advocacy groups have filed a formal complaint to halt what they described as barbaric sterilization experiments.

The groups initially presented the complaint last Wednesday at a public meeting of the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.

They provided the board with video of the proposed procedure and statements from eyewitnesses and veterinarians who questioned the safety and scientific integrity of the experiments.

“It’s unconscionable for OSU and the BLM to subject wild mares – most of which are pregnant – to painful and risky experiments that will cause many to have abortions and which will put mares at risk for serious injury, infection and death,” American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign executive director Suzanne Roy said.

Read more:


Wild horse advocates decry contraceptive sterilization research »

Why sterilization of wild horses is a bad idea »

Back in Dixie killed at Keeneland — “The bone had separated . . .”

Cross-posted from Horse Racing Wrongs

Friday’s 9th race at Keeneland was a $100,000 Grade 3. In other words, the kind of race that typically garners press coverage.

Owing to such coverage, we now know that one of those under the whip that evening, a 4-year-old filly named Back in Dixie, broke [down] then was euthanized. Dead. (Much as they’d prefer to ignore such unpleasantries, the beat writers are almost forced to acknowledge deaths in big races. How unfortunate, though, for dead animals tend to mar otherwise happy recaps.)

The Lexington Herald-Leader’s account included jockey Channing Hill’s description of and reaction to Back in Dixie’s death:

    “. . . it really felt like someone grabbed me, like grabbed my hind end because she kind of stumbled. By the third step I knew…the bone [had] separated. She just showed her class by keeping herself up. This is absolutely heartbreaking. You don’t get too many classy mares that are this nice. This is the worst part about the game, especially the horses that give you everything.”

    “showed her class by keeping herself up”

    “absolutely heartbreaking”

    “don’t get too many classy mares that are this nice”

    “worst part about the game”



Malbros “broke down” in the 7th at Charles Town – confirmed dead.

Valiant Quiz “pulled up distressed” in the 6th at Fonner.

Bank Robber “fell, vanned off” in the 5th at Los Alamitos.

Deliverance Day “bled” in the 8th at Mountaineer.

Jesse Jr First Down “vanned off” in the 8th at Remington.

Eyesa Pretty Wagon “fell, vanned off” in the 11th at Remington.

El Wedo Valiente “vanned off” in the 1st at SunRay.

Read more at Horse Racing Wrongs »