The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:
We hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and well during this difficult time.
Like you, we are doing our best to stay up to date on the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and also wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a number of developments about our continued work during this time as we take necessary precautions in advocating for our nation’s wild horses and burros.
A Victory For The Salt River Wild Horses In Arizona
This past weekend, we reached out to you about the legislation introduced by AZ Rep. Kelly Townsend. HR 2858 threatened to block lifesaving humane management of the famed Salt River wild horses and was widely opposed not just in Arizona, but also by tens of thousands of Americans all across the country.
Due to concerns over COVID-19, the public was discouraged from attending committee hearings or providing public testimony on legislation. Townsend had publicly stated that her legislation was on hold, only to schedule the unpopular and controversial bill at the last minute for a Monday hearing when the public couldn’t attend.
More than 8,000 of you messaged Townsend and members of the committee to cancel this hearing in a tremendous, last-minute show of force in defense of the Salt River wild horses.
And … good news! The state legislature will only be addressing essential legislation before adjourning at the end of the week, meaning that this dangerous and controversial bill is effectively dead (but we will be carefully monitoring this until the session is officially over to be certain).
Our Work In Congress and On Capitol Hill Continues
As the country faces both a financial and public health crisis, imaginably, this past week was one of the most consequential in Washington, DC in many years.
Most federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, have moved all but the most essential personnel to telework and Congress is doing the same.
This doesn’t, however, put a stop to the legislative work happening in Congress nor will it delay consideration for millions of dollars in additional funding to ramp up the roundup, removal, and potential sterilization of tens of thousands of wild horses in the West.
In fact, Congress’ biggest legislative vehicles, the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriation bills which fund federal agencies and their programs, are currently being drafted with the goal of concluding in the next four to five weeks. We’ve previously highlighted the President’s FY 2021 budget, which asks Congress to throw even more money at the BLM’s broken and inhumane wild horse and burro program (you can read more about it below).
Our fear is that the current appropriations bills will become “must-pass” legislation tied to addressing COVID-19 and the financial crisis, meaning that language and funding that threatens wild horses may slip through as the public focuses on other issues.
That’s why our team was on Capitol Hill last week meeting with Congressional staff in order to have early and influential input on this process in defense of wild horses and burros. Now that Congressional staff, as well as many of our own staff, are working remotely, we’re utilizing every technology available to stay in contact throughout the appropriations process.
The AWHC Legal Team Takes New Steps To Defend Wild Horses In Court
Just as our work in Congress continues, so too, does our work throughout the court system.
Last week, the government filed a motion in our lawsuit against the BLM to stop its proposed ovariectomy via colpotomy experiments on wild mares. Oral arguments are set for March 20th in Portland, Oregon, which has declared a state of emergency.
As a result we will be attending the hearing and providing oral arguments via telephone. This suit is critically important — We partnered with The Cloud Foundation and The Animal Welfare Institute on this suit which is responsible for the BLM decision to abandon its plans to conduct cruel sterilization experiments.
Five days later, on March 25th, our legal team was expected to appear in San Francisco for oral arguments before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in our lawsuit challenging the BLM’s plan to castrate wild-free roaming stallions in Nevada’s Triple B Complex.
We recently got word that the Courts will be canceling oral arguments for that week meaning that we will either have our hearing rescheduled or the case will be decided on the written briefs submitted previously.
Late last week, AWHC Government Relations and Policy Counsel filed a lawsuit over the BLM’s failure to respond to multiple requests under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking information on various aspects of BLM wild horse and burro policy.
We are seeking records related to a number of secretive meetings between Interior secretaries and BLM officials with livestock special interest groups that may have influenced federal wild horse and burro policy. By failing to provide these records, the BLM and Interior Department have violated the law — So we’re taking action.
Hard At Work: Service Is Uninterrupted At The World’s Largest Wild Horse Fertility Control Program
The great outdoors is, fortunately, one of the safest places to be during this pandemic. That means that our team’s incredible work running the world’s largest wild horse fertility control program on the Virginia Range in Nevada continues on.
Last year, with far fewer resources and staff, our volunteer team of darters outperformed the BLM in providing the birth control vaccine PZP to wild mares — shattering expectations and proving the naysayers wrong.
Each day, we’re proving that there is a better, humane, and far more cost effective way to manage wild horse populations. And each vaccine costs just $30.
Our work continues and we’re so grateful to have your support along the way. Please stay healthy, stay strong, stay safe and stay tuned. We’re all in this together!
American Wild Horse Campaign