Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wild Horses - Press Release and BLM Advisory Board Meeting

On Monday I attended the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting in Sacramento. This is the third meeting that I have attended in the last 3 years. At the end of each meeting, there is an hour for public comment.
Bob Abbey, the current appointee for Director of the BLM has not yet been confirmed, and the advisory board and the BLM are both waiting for funding for the next year to be approved. They are asking for a whopping 67.5 million dollars. That of course includes a budget for the continuing round ups of wild horses, projected to be 9000 in the next fiscal year. There were updates on various issues such as a new handbook, the rationale for herd areas, (this included an explanation of what happened to the missing 19 million acres that used to be herd areas) and very alarming news on a new experimental fertility control drug which may cause long term or permanent sterility in the mares who receive it. As usual, the Advisory Board members asked very few questions, with the exception of the newest member, Janet Jankuru. Also as usual the main issue of the day, the BLM documents on secret meetings obtained by the Freedom of Information Act which came out last week were not addressed, but during the public comments session, this is what the focus of most of the comments were. The Cloud Foundation has a detailed press release on the contents of these documents - please feel free to forward this to friends and media:

I am including my comments that I made at the meeting here below:

I am speaking in reference to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. I find the Implementation Team’s conference calls to be extremely disturbing.
First of all I would like to take issue with the term “euthanasia” as it I used over and over by the BLM in reference to the 32,000 horses in holding facilities and to the horses to be rounded up in the future. The definition of euthanasia is “the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured individuals (persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy.”
These horses are not hopelessly sick or injured – so I ask the BLM to be honest in the way that they refer to this – it should be killing, or slaughter, or murder or massacre, but not euthanasia.
Calling it by a softer name does not make the actions any more palatable. Discussion of how to spread out the killings over time to make them less shocking to the public could not be more cynical.
These documents with the options discussed in their secret and sinister meetings lead clearly to the conclusion that the BLM is managing the wild horses for extinction. With the options of sales without limitation, which will lead to sales to killer buyers, making the herds non-reproducing, and planning to kill 20 and over horses at roundups, giving younger horses 30 days before killing them, and planning the killing of the horses in short and long term holding, it is clear that if the BLM is not stopped, that very soon we will have no more wild horses on our public lands.
I demand that this planning be stopped until a census can be conducted by a neutral party of exactly how many horses there are currently in the wild. Basing actions on an inflated number is a recipe for disaster. At the last Advisory board meeting I attended in October 2008, the number of wild horses was said o be 26,000 – how has it suddenly leaped to 36,000? Also, at the time of that meeting then Director Henri Bisson vowed to work with parties interested in taking the horses in short and long term holding, which includes Madeleine Pickens, so that there would be no mass killings.
I would like the BLM to shift their focus from how can we eliminate the "problem," i.e. the wild horses, to how can we take care of wild horses in sustainable populations so that the people of the United States can preserve their heritage – these wild horses.


Carol Walker
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