Upon hearing about the BLM’s plans for the large-scale removal of 2,500 horses in northwest Nevada near the Black Rock Desert, more than seven thousand citizens submitted public comments to the BLM opposing the Calico Mountain Complex Round Up, scheduled to begin on December 1, 2009. Public comment has been extended through November 22, 2009 according to the BLM.
Currently more than 33,000 wild horses are stockpiled in government holding facilities at a cost to taxpayers of $100,000 a day. The scheduled removal of 2,500 from Nevada will bring that total to more than 35,000.
“We already have enough wild horses in pens. Adding more horses to those already held in confinement, when they are much safer on the range is shortsighted, inhumane and fiscally irresponsible.”—Ginger Kathrens, Emmy Award Filmmaker & Volunteer Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation.
The BLM will pay the private contractor $610 per horse rounded up for an estimated total of nearly $2 million for the Calico roundup alone according to BLM spokesperson, Tom Gorey. Branding, vaccinating, sterilizing and processing of horses to be placed in government holding will cost several million more. The BLM hired the same contractor for the controversial roundup of the famous stallion, Cloud, and his Pryor Mountain herd in September, 2009. Bands including two-month-old foals were chased down off the mountaintop by helicopter for 10-15 miles in more than 90 degree heat resulting in trauma and lameness.
"The government is acting in defiance of the spirit and intent of the 1971 Free Roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act which Congress passed unanimously —Julianne French, wild horse advocate.
The 1971 Act preserves wild horses and burros in over 300 areas of publicly owned rangeland in the west, forbidding their exploitation, harassment and removal. Regardless, only 30 million acres remain of the 54 million acres designated primarily for wild horse use in 1971. Over 100 herds have been completely removed by the BLM and most remaining herds are too small to insure their long-term survival. The BLM's current policy of eradicating these herds is a betrayal of the wishes of the American public.
Sheryl Crow, with wild mustang and burro supporters, calls the public to action urging all to write, e-mail, fax and phone Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, their congressional representatives and President Obama. The list of contact phones, e-mails, faxes and mailing addresses is online here.
“Its time for all of us to speak up for our Wild Horses and Burros so we do not lose these living legends and inspiring symbols of our freedom in America.” —Sheryl Crow
A Unified Call for an Immediate Moratorium on Wild Horse & Burro Roundups
And a humane, fiscally responsible plan for preserving and protecting the iconic, free-roaming wild horses and burros of the American West
President Obama, Members of Congress and the Department of the Interior:
We, the undersigned, request major changes to the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro program. This must begin with an immediate moratorium on all roundups. While we agree that the program is in dire need of reform, and we applaud your Administration's commitment to avoid BLM’s suggested mass-killing of horses, the plan outlined in October by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar raises numerous concerns. These include:
· Perpetuating the flawed assumption that wild horses and burros are overpopulating their Western ranges. In reality, the BLM has no accurate current inventory of the 37,000 wild horses and burros it claims remain on public lands. Independent analysis of BLM’s own numbers reveal there may be only 15,000 wild horses remaining on public lands.
· Continuing the mass removal of wild horses and burros from their rightful Western ranges: The BLM intends to spend over $30 million in Fiscal Year 2010 to capture more than 12,000 wild horses and burros. This stockpiling of horses continues even as an astounding 32,000 are already being held in government holding facilities at enormous taxpayer expense.
· Scapegoating wild horses and burros for range deterioration even though they comprise only a tiny fraction of animals and wildlife grazing our public lands. Far greater damage is caused by privately-owned livestock, which outnumber the horses more than 100 to 1.
· Moving wild horses and burros east off their Western homelands to “sanctuaries” in the east and Midwest at an initial cost of $96 million creates significant health concerns if animals adapted to western landscapes are managed on wet ground and rich grasses.
Removing tens of thousands of horses and burros from their legally-designated Western ranges and moving them into government-run facilities subverts the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-roaming Horse and Burro Act, which mandated that horses be preserved “where presently found.” A 2009 DC district court case held that “Congress did not authorize BLM to “manage” the wild horses and burros by corralling them for private maintenance or long-term care as non wild free-roaming animals off the public lands.”
We appreciate your Administration's recognition of the horses’ value as an ecotourism resource. However, the display of captive, non-reproducing herds in eastern pastures renders them little more than zoo exhibits, further discounting the contribution to our history and the future of the American West.
We believe that workable solutions to create a healthy “multiple use” of public rangelands, protect the ecological balance of all wildlife, and preserve America's wild horses and burros in their rightful, legally protected home can be achieved. We are calling on the Obama Administration to reform the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Management Program.
We ask that you reverse the current course and immediately take the following actions:
1) Place a moratorium on all roundups until accurate and independent assessments of population numbers and range conditions are made available and a final, long-term solution is formalized.
2) Restore protections included in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Update existing laws that protect wild horses by reopening certain public lands to the mustangs and burros, thus decreasing the number in captivity. Return healthy wild horses and burros in holding to all available acres of public land designated primarily for their use in 1971. If these lands are not available, equivalent and appropriate western public lands should be added in their place.
3) Support federal grazing permit buybacks. Reduce livestock grazing and reanalyze appropriate management levels for herd management areas to allow for self-sustaining, genetically viable herds to exist in the west.
4) Conduct Congressional hearings regarding the mismanagement of our wild herds and further investigate the inability of BLM to correct the shortcomings of the program as audited by the Government Accountability Office’s 1990, 1991 and 2008 reports.
Supported by the undersigned on __________________________________________, 2009