Breaking: The BLM is setting the stage for the slaughter of America’s wild horses

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

The Bureau of Land Management just issued its long-overdue report to Congress on how the agency plans to proceed with managing America’s wild horse and burro population.

Before I go into more detail, I want to briefly summarize the most troubling aspects of this report and the failed approaches the BLM is advocating for:

  • The BLM’s plan would authorize mass roundups to remove up to 20,000 wild horses per year; culling wild herds by 70%;
  • For the first time, the permanent sterilization of mares through an ineffective and inhumane procedure would be utilized;
  • Private contractors would be enriched by the BLM tripling the population of wild horses in crowded holding pens and pastures;
  • This plan would carry a cost of $1 billion to taxpayers over the next five years and that’s only a portion of the cost expected for its two-decade timeframe.

There are three major takeaways I want to provide about this plan, and as grim as it sounds, I also want to remind everyone that this isn’t set in stone: We have time to stop it from happening but in order to do so we’re all going to need to get involved.


Takeaway #1: Continuing On A Path to Failure


The BLM’s new plan is based on two faulty premises: the need to reduce wild populations to the “Appropriate” Management Level (AML) of 27,000 animals on 27 million acres of land, and the reliance on mass roundups and removals to get there.

Both premises have been discredited by the nation’s top scientific body — the National Academy of Sciences — which concluded that these management levels are “not based in science” and that mass removals are not only ineffective but also counterproductive and unsustainable.

And that doesn’t even take into consideration the massive cost to taxpayers and the cruelty inflicted on these innocent wild horses and burros. Or the fact that this plan, with its astronomically high price tag, is setting the stage for the mass slaughter of these treasured icons.


Takeaway #2: Only Congress Can Require the BLM to Change Course


Last year, Congress appropriated a $21 million increase for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program, but specified that the funds would not become available until the agency submitted a report to Congress detailing its plan for managing America’s wild herds.The 60-day clock is now ticking and during this time Congress has the opportunity to weigh in on the mass roundup and warehousing plan.

Additionally, the House and the Senate are currently working on the next appropriations bill to fund the government in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, which begins on October 1, 2020.

The good news is that Rep. Raul Grijalva, Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which has direct oversight over the BLM, has expressed his intent to hold the BLM accountable.

He and several other members of the House and Senate have requested that FY 2021 Appropriations legislation include language to require BLM to utilize humane, reversible fertility control instead of spending all of its funding to round up more wild horses and burros, and to prohibit the agency from cruelly sterilizing wild horses and burros via invasive and risky surgical procedures.

To convince Congress to include this legislative language, we will have to overcome opposition from the Big Ag lobby and Big Humane groups (Humane Society of the U.S., ASPCA as well as Return to Freedom, a wild horse sanctuary), which last year opposed similar language to require BLM to utilize humane fertility control and prohibit surgical sterilization. That means we all need to weigh in now!


Takeaway #3: We Can Do This!


Against insurmountable odds, the movement to protect America’s cherished icons has achieved incredible successes.

And it’s important to remember that the American public is very much on our side: Nearly 80% of Americans do not support mass roundups or the sterilization of wild mares, and believe that these icons deserve to stay on the public lands they call home.

Through mobilization, advocacy, and public education campaigns, we’ve saved wild horses from extinction and slaughter before. Now, we’re being called to work together to do so again.

Here are two ways you can get involved so we can make the most of this window of opportunity:

  1. Click here to ask your Representative and Senators on Capitol Hill to support appropriations language to require BLM to implement humane management.
  2. Thank Rep. Grijalva for being the top champion in Congress for America’s wild horses and burros. As Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, he is a powerful ally!

P.S. For a more detailed analysis of the plan, click here.

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