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!
Suzanne Roy, Executive Director