What's New: Wild Horse and Burro 2021

First 100 Day Wild Horse Agenda

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

A new year, a new administration, and wild-horse friendly leadership at the Interior Department and on the House Natural Resources Committee. This is our moment to make real change for wild horses and burros this year — the 50th Anniversary of the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 

We have an ambitious action plan to make 2021 the best for wild horses yet… and we have the team in place to accomplish it! Watch this video message to hear the plan we delivered to the new administration, and then sign our First 100 Days Agenda Petition

Our 100 Day Wild Horse Agenda Includes: 

  • Urging the government to declare our nation’s wild horses and burros as historic and cultural resources, prioritize humane fertility control over roundups and prohibit cruel mare surgical sterilization as a management tool.
  • Continuing to demonstrate through boots-on-the ground work that humane management of wild horses is not just possible; it can be done. We’ll do this by working to expand our groundbreaking PZP program in the Virginia Range to other herds in the West.
  • Putting science at the forefront of wild horse management — we will be launching exciting new initiatives that analyze our PZP program data and create an economic report to highlight the missteps of the current mismanagement path and the cost-savings of an alternative approach.
  • Continuing to amplify our work and your voice on Capitol Hill while pursuing legislation to finally give our wild horses and burros the protection they deserve.

This is an ambitious agenda, but this is our year to fight hard for the change we want to see in the world. It will take every one of us stepping up however we’re able — whether it’s lending your voice, time, or money.

This is our time to prioritize, protect and elevate America’s iconic wild horses and burros and the public lands they call home. I’m so excited to see what we accomplish together in 2021. Thank you for standing with us – we can’t do this work without you!

Suzanne Roy

Executive Director

AWHC

We delivered a 100 Day agenda for wild horses and burros

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

It’s been a wild first two weeks of 2021, but we’re standing strong at AWHC for our wild horses and burros. We’re a few days away from a new Administration and our team has been pushing forward with our plan of action to protect America’s wild free-roaming horses and burros from mass roundups and slaughter.   

First 100 Days Wild Horse Agenda for the Biden Administration

Just this week, AWHC submitted its First 100 Days Wild Horse Agenda to the Biden Administration with an urgent plea to reform the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) wild horse and burro management program, which is careening toward fiscal and animal welfare disaster.  

Urgent action is necessary in light of the BLM’s plan to round up 90,000 wild horses and burros from public lands over the next five years, a move that would triple the number of horses maintained in off-range holding facilities while decimating wild herds at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $1 billion. 

This agenda can set the stage for progress and reform of BLM’s inhumane practices.

We’re hopeful that the new administration will take significant steps to rein in the BLM and its mistreatment of our nation’s wild horses and burros. By following our First 100 Days Agenda, the Biden Administration can take necessary first steps to finally granting these iconic animals the protection and humane management they deserve. 

Public Lands Rancher Appointed to Represent Public on Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board

The last four years have been marked by an all-out assault on our public lands by the Interior Department under Secretary David Bernhardt and the illegally-serving BLM Director William Perry Pendley. America’s wild horses and burros have not escaped the destruction. Scapegoated for massive environmental damage to public lands caused by the livestock industry, these iconic animals face virtual extinction under the Bernhardt/Pendley Plan to cull wild herds by 70 percent. 

And now, in a parting shot, the outgoing Secretary has appointed a public lands rancher who views wild horses as a “protein source” to represent the public interest on the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Read more about this corrupt appointment and AWHC’s vow to fight it here.

AWHC Responds to One-Sided Sacramento Bee Article

Last month, the Sacramento Bee published a one-sided story on the Devil’s Garden wild horse herd, which gave a megaphone to ranchers who want the land where the horses roam for their cattle. The article dismissed wild horse advocates as having a romanticized view of wild horses, who the author believes are better off captured and fed in pens than living free in the wild. On Saturday, the newspaper published AWHC’s response in an OpEd entitled, “How to fix federal mismanagement of California’s wild horse population.” Read the article here.

AWHC continues to fight the mismanagement of the Devil’s Garden wild horses by the U.S. Forest Service, which recently announced that it was selling all wild horses captured in a fall 2020 roundup for $25 a piece. Previous sales of captured Devil’s Garden wild horses have resulted in many disasters, including the escape of two untamed mustangs who are still at large in Pennsylvania, the deaths of 9 horses from salmonella poisoning after being shipped to Florida, and 18 horses delivered to a remote Colorado property that can be inaccessible during the winter months.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service continues to charge ahead with roundups as its main management tool and declined AWHC’s previous offer to fund a pilot fertility control program for this herd, which is California’s largest and most significant wild horse population. 

Roundup Report from Eagle Complex

Another massive wild horse roundup is underway, this one in the BLM’s Eagle Complex in eastern Nevada. AWHC’s observer is on site to document this capture operation that aims to remove over 1,000 wild horses and reduce the population to just 139-265 in this 743,000-acre habitat area — that equates to as little as one horse per every 5,345 acres!  The BLM is clearing the land of wild horses so that thousands of cattle and sheep can continue to graze this public lands area. 

As with any roundup, the scenes we’re witnessing are truly heartbreaking. As of Jan. 15, 412 wild horses have lost their freedom in the Eagle Complex roundup and five have lost their lives.   

Below Are Photos Our Observer Took During Eagle Complex Roundup:

Watch a clip from BLM’s first roundup of 2021:

We are working hard to change this — in Congress, in the courts and in the field by showing that humane management works. We need YOU more than ever to keep showing up, speaking up, and supporting our work. Together, we will do everything in our power to protect America’s wild horses.

Thank you for your support, Meredith. Our wild horses — and their continued freedom — depends on all of us.

— The whole team at AWHC

An update

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

Great news: our end of year fundraising totals are in, and thanks to your incredible support, we were able to reach our $125,000 goal and UNLOCK our donor match!  Your support will make an enormous difference for wild horses and burros as we launch our ambitious 2021 agenda.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we know we can always count on you to lobby your elected officials, support our critical legal work, and raise awareness across the country about the plight of America’s magnificent wild horses and burros. This is a tough fight, but this movement has stood up to the challenge over and over again and we’ll do it again in 2021. Please read on for a recap of the 2020 accomplishments that we’ll build on and a preview of what your generosity will allow us to do this year! 

Strengthened Political Support & Made History

We teamed up with our coalition partners and worked with members of Congress to introduce the first pro-wild horse legislation in over a decade. Passed by the House of Representatives, the bipartisan wild horse protection amendment would require the BLM to implement PZP fertility control to manage wild herds humanely on public lands. Although the final spending bill did not include the House-passed amendment, it did include strong fertility control language as well as other pro-horse provisions — a sign that Congress is well aware of our growing grassroots strength and increasing support on Capitol Hill for our cause. We have an incredible opportunity this year to make real change with the nomination of Debra Haaland as Secretary of the Interior and the continued leadership of Rep. Raul Grijalva as Chair of the Natural Resources Committee. Both are wild horse and burro champions who are committed to protecting these beloved animals and reforming the broken federal wild horse and burro management program.

Filed Suit to Protect Wild Mares

The day after the roundup ended in Utah’s Confusion Herd Management Area, our legal team filed suit to stop the BLM from conducting barbaric sterilization surgeries on many of the just-captured wild mares. This is our third legal action against the BLM for plans to conduct the risky and invasive “ovariectomy via colpotomy” procedure, and we’ve successfully held the agency off since 2016! Joining us as a plaintiff in the latest lawsuit is Utahn Rob Hammer, who has extensive knowledge of the Confusion wild horses and the public land area where they live. In 2021, we’ll continue to drive this case in the courts while we also work with Congress and the administration to eliminate this brutal surgery as an option for the management of our wild horses and burros, once and for all.

Created Accountability for BLM Roundup Abuse 

While the COVID-19 pandemic made traveling much more difficult in 2020, we continued to address roundup abuse by sending humane observers to nearly every one of the many helicopter roundups conducted by the BLM and the Forest Service last year. This year we took a step beyond documenting roundups by launching an initiative to create a mechanism for enforcing the BLM’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program standards, which the agency routinely violates. We’ve teamed up with the Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard University Law School to develop a rulemaking petition to strengthen the BLM’s animal welfare guidelines and turn them into legally-enforceable regulations. The petition will be ready for submission to the new Administration this year. If it is not acted upon, we will have the option of litigating, so please stay tuned!

Proved Humane Management is Possible

Our in-the-wild management program reached new heights in 2020. Not only were we able to grant funds to boots-on-the-ground organizations in Arizona and Colorado to support their fertility control programs, we also achieved an unprecedented milestone in our own fertility control program in Nevada’s Virginia Range. Last month, our volunteers and staff surpassed 3,000 treatments administered to mares in less than two years, making this the largest free-roaming horse fertility control program in the world, according to the Science and Conservation Center! Just last week, the Deseret News — Utah’s second-largest newspaper — published a feature highlighting the success of our program. In 2021, we will continue to support local groups managing their herds, expand our fertility control program in the greater Reno area, and we’re working to expand our fertility control efforts to new herds in the West!

Launched Habitat Acquisition Project

We officially launched the pilot project for the American Wild Horse Conservancy, our new land trust, in 2020. The inaugural effort focuses on securing habitat for the famed Fish Springs Wild Horses who live on BLM and private land in the Gardnerville, Nevada area. The Conservancy overall will focus on critical land acquisition to secure key habitat for wild horses, grazing lease buyouts and compensation for reduced or non-use of grazing permits, and range improvements to improve the quality and quantity of habitat available for wild horses. We can’t wait to expand this innovative program in the coming year!

We have a lot of work to do, but together, we’ll make real progress for our cherished wild horses and burros in 2021. So stay ready, stay safe, and stay tuned!

With Gratitude,

Suzanne Roy, Executive Director