American Wild Horses Set On Path To Extinction?

Two Mustangs. National Geographic. 2017.

PRESS RELEASE

by WILD HORSE FIRE BRIGADE

YREKA, Calif. – Oct. 14, 2019 – PRLog — In a certified letter delivered to Return To Freedom, Inc. (‘RTF’) and it’s board of directors on September 16, 2019, key wild horse and burro advocates demanded that Return To Freedom, a 501-C-3 non-profit, immediately withdraw its support of the so-called proposal titled; ‘The Path Forward For Management Of BLM’s Wild Horses & Burros’ (‘Proposal’) [1].

On August 28th 2019, naturalist William E. Simpson II had a phone call with the Executive Director of the Public Lands Council, Mr. Ethan Lane. In that telephone call, Mr. Lane alluded to Mr. Simpson that via RTF’s support of the Proposal, he arguably had the needed majority of all wild horse and burro advocates to support the Proposal’s acceptance by Congress. This is tantamount to an admission that, without the support of Return To Freedom, the livestock industry’s surrogates (BLM, HSUS, ASPCA, AMF, etc.) would have to go back to the drawing board.

A majority of wild horse advocates and organizations, including Friends of Animals (‘FOA’) feel that the current Proposal as written is seriously flawed and would likely lead to the final extinction of native species American wild horses and burros in America. This Proposal is particularly troubling given there is a superior alternative plan for managing wild horses and burros called ‘Wild Horse Fire Brigade’, which offers savings to taxpayers using an ecologically sound method for rewilding BLM and USFS wild horses and burros [2].

There is more than enough existing and new science, as well as decades of empirical experience, that argues compellingly against the flawed precepts upon which the Proposal RTF supports is built.

The current Proposal posits are premised upon known misinformation, including those found in four key precepts of the Proposal, each followed by a brief counterpoint made by experts who oppose the current Proposal:

Proposal: Conduct targeted gathers and removals at densely populated Herd Management Areas (HMAs) to reduce herd size and make progress towards AML.”

Counterpoint: This has been done unsuccessfully for decades and is by all accounts a draconian methodology only made necessary due to the large-scale decimation of the evolutionary predators of wild horses and burros, namely, mountain lions, bears, wolves and coyotes.

Proposal: Treat gathered horses and burros with population growth suppression tools prior to being returned to the range. Reversible methods must be administered to an appropriate percentage of mares (generally close to 90%) to control populations, with some flexibility depending on modeling of range and herd parameters.”

Counterpoint: The latest science proves that the use of chemical contraceptives in equids leads to the breakdown of critical social structures in family bands of wild horses as well as resulting in varied degrees of sterilization and erosion of genetic viability.

Proposal: Relocate horses and burros in holding facilities, and those taken off the range, to large cost-effective humane pasture facilities funded through public-private partnerships.”

Counterpoint: Here again, this has been an ongoing expensive failure that will continue to burden taxpayers.

Proposal: Promote adoptions in order to help reduce captive populations and costs. The BLM is currently spending $2,250 ($3,250 with incentive) per adopted horse to promote adoptions that ultimately provide considerable cost savings to the agency. Investing in the adoption process for each horse will reduce or eliminate the estimated $46,000 per horse expenditure in off range holding over the course of their lifetime.”

Counterpoint: Another paradigm that has proven relatively ineffective as evidenced by tens of thousands of wild horses and burros that nevertheless end up in off-range facilities at great ongoing cost to taxpayers. Even though a small percentage of native species American wild horses can be successfully gentled and thereby ‘domesticated,’ management of wildlife in this manner is costly and very limited in its scope and effect as any genuine solution.

Leading independent wild burro and horse advocates are of the opinion that if RTF rescinds support of the existing Proposal, it could then be amended to include what are arguably the minimal components to assure a future representation of free-roaming native species American wild horses and burros in carefully selected remote wilderness areas in America where the presence of a proper proportion of the evolved apex predators of equids will certainly control equid populations [3].

The 3 minimal components are:

1) Current management practices amount to an egregious misuse of the WHBA. Not only must helicopter roundups come to an immediate end, BLM and the USFS must provide greater protections to wild equids in existing HMAs by reevaluating HMA boundaries and AMLs, giving priority to wild equids over any human use of these public lands. These agencies also currently ignore any benefit wild equids have on the lands they currently occupy, including the potential to lower the risk of wildfire in the grasslands occupied by wild equids. Congress must ensure that wild equids and their benefits are given more weight in establishing HMA boundaries and AMLs.

2) All wild equids that are rounded up after considerations in no. 1 will be transported, families intact, unmolested (no treatments with any chemicals or castration of stallions) into carefully selected and appropriately remote wilderness areas. Where possible, such equids can also be used to establish larger AMLs on existing HMAs (or expanded HMAs) where such populations would benefit the grassland habitats.

3) A percentage (TBD) of 10-year old (and younger) wild horses and burros held in off range captivity will be rewilded into carefully selected and appropriately remote wilderness areas.

The following *advocates were signatories on the letter to RTF.

* Friends of Animals (https://www.friendsofanimals.org/about-us/)
* Board of Directors Coyote Canyon Caballos d’Anza Inc 501 c 3 –
Kathleen Hayden, Secretary
* Carla Bowers
* Lorna Moffat
* Darice Massey
* Dr. Sharon Greenleaf La Pierre – Red Raven Farms – Colorado & Kentucky
* Speak Up For Horses
* Jeff Hudson
* William E. Simpson II – Naturalist / Rancher

[1] https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=0869B02B-E9C5-4F0B-9AE8-9A8A1C85293E

[2] http://www.WHFB.us

[3] Impact Of Wild Horses On Wilderness Landscape And Wildfire – Preliminary Findings Report – By: William E. Simpson II -Naturalist – July 25, 2019 (https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/6a30c6_98642a78546849f0a94e2687cdf35654.pdf)

FEATURED IMAGE: (not filed with press release)
Credit: Two Mustangs. National Geographic. 2017.

Controversial ‘wild horse initiative’ headed to Senate floor

Wild horses of Utah. Unattributed image.

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Congress is closer to approving a contentious wild horse initiative backed by national animal welfare groups and the livestock industry but condemned by leaders of the largest and oldest coalition of mustang advocates in the West.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $35 million last week for the program supported by an unprecedented alliance including the Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Farm Bureau Federation.

They say it would eliminate the threat of slaughter for thousands of free-roaming horses and shrink the size of herds primarily through expanded fertility controls on the range.

Critics say it drops long-held opposition to the capture of mustangs across 10 western states and could allow for sterilization of mares — a hot-button issue with horse protection advocates historically.

“It’s a sweeping betrayal of America’s wild herds by the nation’s largest animal welfare groups,” Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, said following Thursday’s vote.

Ginger Kathrens, director of The Cloud Foundation based in Colorado, said the new initiative dubbed the “Path Forward” should be called the “path to extinction.” She said it sets population targets to less than 27,000 — the total when federal protections first were enacted nearly a half-century ago.

The Senate committee included a $35 million increase for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro program as part of the $35.8 billion Interior Department appropriation bill it approved on Thursday.

It’s not clear when the full Senate will consider the measure.

Source: Associated Press.

TAKE ACTION

There’s still time to call your Senators. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate office you request.

Don’t know who your two U.S. Senators are? Find out at https://www.govtrack.us/ and make that call!

TALKING POINTS

This plan will wipe our wild horse population.

This is a huge waste of taxpayer money. Our federally protected wild mustangs and burros are already on the brink of destruction.

Nothing that has been promised concerning the safety of America’s wild horses and burros has kept them from slaughter. BLM employees themselves have been directly involved with selling them to slaughter.

There are solutions — humane solutions — that will help protect our wild horses and burros but they have never been seriously considered, and cost nothing like what the Senate Appropriations Committee just approved. Say no to this highly expensive and dangerous plan.

Please vote against this wild horse initiative!

Wild horses need our voices; Cloud call to action

Galloping wild horse herd. (Stock Photo)

URGENT CALL TO ACTION

Please join The Cloud Foundation with us. Call your U.S. Senators using the following script. If no one answers, please leave a voicemail.

Script:

1. Hello, my name is ____________ and I live in _______________. My phone # is ______________. (Give all that info upfront for simplicity)

2. I am asking Senator _____________ to vote AGAINST funding the Dept. of Interior Appropriations Bill, Fiscal Year 2020, which includes the Livestock Lobby/ASPCA/HSUS plan to remove over 100,000 wild horses and burros from public lands in the next 10 yrs. Our wild herds are protected by federal law and should be managed ON THE RANGE, not warehoused at tax-payer expense.

3. Again my name is ______________________, from ____(town)______. Thank you for the opportunity to weigh in.

 *  *  *  *

Find your Senator’s phone number here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Not sure who your senators are? Find here: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

BACKGROUND

The disastrous “management” plan that calls for the removal of over 100,000 wild horses and burros from the range over the next decade will soon be up for Senate approval in the Fiscal Year 2020 Interior spending bill.

If you’re unfamiliar with the plan, The Cloud Foundation responded in depth to the proposing organizations. Read it here.

BLM kills 14 wild horses during Triple B Roundup

Grey Mustang Stallion by Randy Harris. See randyharrisphoto.com.

Federal land managers say 14 wild horses were euthanized during a roundup in northeastern Nevada.

The roundup at the Triple B complex north of Ely gathered more than 800 horses to be removed and shipped to holding facilities.

The Bureau of Land Management says the roundups are necessary because there are more horses than the land can sustain.

Source: Nevada Public Radio »

This is not so. There are not more horses than the land can sustain. Read on.

FEDERAL LANDS — A Perspective

The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States.

Four major federal land management agencies administer 610.1 million acres of this land . They are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture.

In addition, the Department of Defense (excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) administers 11.4 million acres in the United States , consisting of military bases, training ranges, and more. Numerous other agencies administer the remaining federal acreage.

The BLM manages 248.3 million acres of public land and administers about 700 million acres of federal subsurface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM has a multiple-use, sustained-yield mandate that supports a variety of activities and programs, as does the FS, which currently manages 192.9 million acres.

Most FS lands are designated national forests. Wildfire protection is increasingly important for both agencies.

The FWS manages 89.1 million acres of the U.S. total, primarily to conserve and protect animals and plants. The National Wildlife Refuge System includes wildlife refuges, waterfowl production areas, and wildlife coordination units.

In 2015, the NPS managed 79.8 million acres in 408 diverse units to conserve lands and resources and make them available for public use. Activities that harvest or remove resources from NPS lands generally are prohibited.

Numerous issues affecting federal land management are continuously before Congress.

These issues include the extent of federal ownership and whether to decrease, maintain, or increase the amount of federal holdings; the condition of currently owned federal infrastructure and lands and the priority of their maintenance versus new acquisitions; and the optimal balance between land use and protection, and whether federal lands should be managed primarily to benefit the nation as a whole or to benefit the localities and states.

WE’VE BEEN THERE

Various individuals who work and volunteer for The Fund for Horses (The Horse Fund) have viewed great pieces of public lands managed by the BLM over the course of 15 years. They viewed these public lands by both helicopter and light plane.

It is virtually impossible to get across to anyone who have not seen the vastness of these areas just how immense federal lands are.

You can fly for large chunks of time — sometimes hours — and see absolutely nothing but land as far in any direction as your eye will take you.

A huge chunk of federal lands managed by the BLM are where our wild horses and burros roam.

ROOM FOR OUR WILD ONES

How is it possible there is room for cattle ranchers, miners, drillers, and all the rest, yet not space for our wild horses and burros, somewhere — no matter how remote? We do not care.

Our wild horses and burros would acclimate themselves. It may be unsettling at first. However they would survive.

It would be much better for our wild horses and burros to remain free roaming, even if it meant being captured and re-released, no matter where it was, than being robbed of their precious freedoms, breaking up their bands and confining them to holding facilities often in unsafe and deplorable conditions. Certainly anything must be preferable to submitting them to a brutal and terrifying death by slaughter. Castrating their males. Yanking the ovaries out their females.

We asked BLM personnel why this was not a workable solution, one that could surely offend no one and possibly delight quite a few.

The BLM spokesperson replied that the Department of Interior would not want wild horses and burros removed from their designated, herd management areas and moved to vast open spaces where the BLM might find it difficult or impossible to track and “manage them”. That they told us would be in direct opposition to the 1971 The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

Not so.

At any rate, it seems obvious to us that they could simply do fly overs (like the ones we went on) once or twice a year to see where the bands were and report on their size and condition.

Certainly this is doable and good economics. Would this not also benefit America’s public lands? Wild horses and burros actually refurbish the land, not destroy it leaving it barren the way say, cattle do.

Mostly importantly of all, this would mean no more deaths like those of the 14 murdered Triple B wild horses. At least out in the wild, our mustangs and burros have a fighting chance to survive.

HELP

At long last we finally won some introductions, and caught the ear of some valuable people at the Department of Interior. They have been much more receptive to our ideas than the BLM have been.  Please chip in with a contribution, any amount, to help keep us in nation’s capitol and active on behalf of our wild horses and burros, domestic horses, racehorses and walking horses. There’s a lot to do!

Click to Donate

Thank you for your generosity and support.