The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:
Our team at the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) does a lot of behind-the-scenes work that forms the basis of our more public actions. One critical area is our investigations program, which uses the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request government records.
FOIA is a federal law that empowers private citizens and groups to access public information that government offices may not publiclly disclose on their own. FOIA’s purpose is to increase government transparency and accountability and educate the public about government operations that might otherwise be shrouded in secrecy.
FOIA is a key tool in our toolbox that allows us to uncover incredibly important, and sometimes damning information about the management of our nation’s wild horses and burros. This includes records that expose abuse and mistreatment during roundups, in holding facilities, or in private care.
Right now, AWHC has over 80 active and open FOIA requests — and we are filing more every day.
Just like our observers who document violations at roundups in the field, our FOIA work sheds light on a number of other serious animal welfare issues hidden from the public. In the past two years alone, FOIA has helped us to uncover:
- The terrible impact of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Adoption Incentive Program (AIP), which pays people $1,000 to adopt a wild, untamed horse or burro and has landed at least 1,100 of these cherised animals in kill pens in under two years;
- The unreported mortality rate of roundups that include the deaths of scores of wild horses at holding facilities in the weeks after they are captured and removed from the range. Some of these deaths — including the 16 wild horse deaths at the U.S. Forest Service’s Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals — were never previously disclosed to the public;
- The BLM’s use of IUD’s in wild mares despite the lack of scientific research about the efficacy and safety of these devices in wild populations;
- And so much more.
These concerning situations would remain hidden from the American people if not for the information our team has gathered through FOIA requests. But the requests are only the beginning. In many cases, the BLM or Forest Service fails to respond within the legally-mandated time frame, forcing us to sue the agency to turn over the requested records.
As a result, we currently have 20 FOIA lawsuits against the BLM in various stages of litigation and expect to file even more suits soon.
This important work would not be possible without the support of wild horse and burro allies like you. Your donations fuel our Legal Fund and empower us to take action to reveal the truth about what is happening to our cherished wild horses and burros during roundups, in holding pens, and as a result of the adoption and sales program. We are so grateful for your commitment to standing with us as we fight for these iconic animals.
So, Meredith, on behalf of everyone here at AWHC, thank you!
– American Wild Horse Campaign