ASPCA et al. Plan for Wild Horses&Burros does not represent me. It's a PATH to slaughter.

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The ASPCA "PATH FORWARD MANAGEMENT PLAN" FOR BLM'S WILD HORSES & BURROS calls for worse MEGA removals than ever in our history, and likely by inhumane helicopter round-ups.

There is NOTHING NEW and NO INNOVATION with this nefarious plan. It calls for mass removals of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros, more separation of families into holding facilities and eventual adoptions of only some of these animals into a general public, that historically has not had proper long term facilities and resources, making them unprepared for a lifetime commitment (25-30 yrs.) for the care of many "adopted" wild horses and burros.

Under the ASPCA et al. Path Forward Plan, thousands of our wild horses would also ostensibly go to more privately funded facilities including pastures and sanctuaries that also cannot guarantee a lifetime of safety for each animal, due to finite monetary support that is largely dependent on private donations throughout the lifetimes of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros, with NO transparency.

This plan will predictably lead to neglect, abuse and possibly slaughter for reasons including 2004 Burns Amendment (an appropriations bill with no open debate), which allows for animals over the age of ten, as well as "un-adoptable" animals to be sold, losing their wild status and legal protections. This is one reason there are so many untitled and titled wild horses ending up in slaughter buyer lots already.

The ASPCA et al. Plan design causes tens of thousands of wild horses and burros to be deemed as "excess" and therefore slated for continued removals, due to the fact that it does NOT call for immune- contraceptive fertility control darting UNTIL a herd is at Appropriate Management Level (AML).

Hence, in order to get to AML over a period of years, many thousands more horses will be born only to be rounded up (costly and inhumane) and they will never be allowed to live on the lands where they are naturally found.

Moreover, these round-ups are likely to continue through the use of helicopter "gathers", which are in fact inhumane, non-transparent and have no cameras. Wild horses literally die from fright and physiological stressors that result in Exertional Myopathy, (Exertional Rhabdomyolysis also known as Capture Myopathy or "White Muscle Disease"). These deaths are not recorded as round-up related because death is commonly delayed for weeks after the 5 to 10 mile stampede chases across rough terrain in blistering heat and frigid temperatures alike, of young, old, pregnant, sick, and injured, year after year.  https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/Wildlife-RelatedDiseases/Pages/CaptureMyopathy.aspx

While some wild mares abort their foals in hurried flight, other frantic wild horses and burros also are injured or actually die DURING the helicopter chases, miles from the viewing areas nearer to the makeshift crowded corral areas the animals are herded into, before being loaded onto trailers; never to be with their families again. Others are destroyed because of their injuries resulting from the roundups. Foals born after round up often die shortly after birth.

Nothing in the 1971 Act or the Lacey Act allows the Secretary of the Interior to use motorized vehicles in an inhumane manner. The BLM has not even followed the recommendations of a team of independent veterinarians to include cameras during these inhumane helicopter "gathers" as even this team was not allowed on a helicopter DURING round-up. Helicopter round-ups are inhumane and are in fact, ILLEGAL.

This is all with no oversight or transparency (all while Congress has continued to allow, aid and abet slaughter over our borders with Mexico and Canada with huge subsidies at New Mexico's border from New Mexico Congressional Reps). Ignoring the will of 80% of the American people that oppose equine slaughter. All while hiding behind bills they don't allow to move (much less pass) under either political party’s power, both with indirect funding through the bipartisan Farm Bill some call the Livestock Bill, over and over.

Once wild horses and burros are at AML (if ever), how will we ensure that darting even occurs? Or, would they just be subject to continued profitable round-ups and sales? Same as with the Socorro Herd and others.

We don't need thousands MORE wild horses and burros than we already have, from failed sanctuaries or adoptions (resulting from this plan) ending up in the same predicament- CYCLICAL LOSS OF FREEDOM, SLAUGHTER OR DESTRUCTION!

As such, the actions set forth in the ASPCA et al. "Path Forward Plan" do not represent me or the advocacy groups I am associated with and I strongly oppose this "Path Forward Plan" that only leads to removals, incarceration and potential demise or destruction of tens of thousands MORE unnecessarily homeless wild horses and burros than we already have.

Additionally, with 93 Million cattle in the US primarily causing yearly hay shortages, available pastures are ALREADY growing food for livestock. Hence, there is little doubt the ASPCA et al. "Path Forward" plan is only a LOOK GOOD plan, however, nefarious and nefariously non-transparent: https://www.farmanddairy.com/uncategorized/hay-shortage-is-a-growing-concern-for-farmers/548061.html

REALISTIC ALTERNATIVES

In contrast, a feasible plan like the WHOA NATIONAL PLAN provides a way to care for OUR Public Land range-lands as well as our wild ones without their removal. See http://whoanm.org/wordpress/?p=422

The WHOA National Plan (of Wild Horse Observers Association) resolves and acknowledges the following Elephants in the room: 

1. Conflict of interest – resolved

2. Options to end round ups which are win win win - resolved

3. Climate Change Gasses - Methane Reduction and Sequester – options include

a. WHOA believes another innovative option environmentally called for IF desired can be accommodated: Based on BOLD Methane reduction payment over time, where the Permittee has option to be paid also for, methane saving of cattle reduction even to zero, if desired, while he/she works the environmental issues shown in no. 4. below.

See EPA Report https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases#methane : “When livestock and manure emissions are combined, the Agriculture sector is the largest source of CH4 emissions in the United States." 

Methane (CH4) is 84 times more heat trapping than Carbon Dioxide (CO2) over a twenty year period.

The permittee is then equally employed as an environmental steward and retains his/her permit as there is much work to be done. Think of this like the “victory” gardens in the U.S. during WWII with all hands on deck which are in fact dearly needed in the next 12 years and beyond. See United Nations IPCC Report: https://www.vox.com/2018/10/8/17948832/climate-change-global-warming-un-ipcc-report

4. The OTHER CLIMATE CHANGE: NATIVE GRASSES AND FORAGE are being literally Wiped Out due to Cheat Grass Explosion and other spreading inedible non-native, opportunistic grasses that aren't utilized by cattle, or wild horses after spring, but that goats can eat. These invasive plants have spread to all areas of the country except Texas and Florida and they were moved here by humans with contaminated FARM SEED/Hay, from Europe and Asia, (not by or from) wild horses. However wild horses already assist the range by eating them in the spring (when there are NO SEEDS PRESENT yet to spread). See next Link.

Warning: If this “other climate change” is not addressed, there will literally be no more wild places that support our intricate web of wildlife and bio-diversity, even if we resolve climate change.

a. Non-native seeds that have come in with feeding of domestic livestock on the range have drastically altered habitats and NATIVE edible forage production. They must be combated as they have drastically reduced the native forage production of our public lands. Cheat grass, lipidium, medusahead etc. for example, are not edible/utilized except in the spring. They spread and choke out other nutritious forage, then dry out (which is as devastating as drought) and even worse in a good rain year, by yielding more growth and more seeds. This serious problem affecting our Public Lands ranges obviously cannot be touched, much less resolved, with the removal of even ALL wild horses and burros).

See Medusahead: https://www.nwcb.wa.gov/weeds/medusahead  

See Cheat Grass: https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/09/07/attacking-invasive-cheatgrass-root-soil-microbes-biocontrol-sage/   

See: Range Management opinion from a former BLM Range Manager in Utah: https://nobullsheet.net/2019/01/10/an-primer-on-rangeland-management/?fbclid=IwAR2BznGpollrrK7mnpIPuKYm5dqDnGe7z4oG559fUG3QRHZD6m0tEaTh6wA

b. Note: Cheatgrass also leads to increased forest fires, causing billions of dollars in property damage and it clearly needs to be controlled.

c. Wild horses can be utilized to both curb cheat grass and others in the spring and also to spread good native seeds year-round as they unlike ruminants do not kill seeds during digestion but cause the good seeds they can eat to germinate quicker.  Native seeds could be made available for wild horses to disseminate and plant.

5. Permittee puts grazing permit on hold consistent with the Taylor Grazing Act for 3 yrs. at a time and receive payment for Methane avoidance, as well as for darting wild horses and burros and environmental work per WHOA Plan. Permittee retains grazing permit.

6. Ranchers can optionally switch their permits to another domestic livestock species in certain areas. For example, some ranchers are considering that goats can eat non-native plants and sheep can eat other plants that cattle don’t utilize and possibly fight or better survive the "other climate change" caused by non-native plants.

7. In these areas where Permittee chooses to remove all of their cattle or livestock in order to help address climate change and they also dart wild horses and burros, there is no local reason why predators cannot be a big part of the solution to keep wild horses and burros in check.

+ Important Facts: +

+ Newsflash on Predators! Unlike non-native cattle, wild horses evolved into the current Modern Horse in North America between 1 to 4 million years ago and are now known to have remained in North America well into the last Ice age, less than 8,000 years ago. They evolved alongside the mountain lion and, the grasses here did not change in the last over 20,000 years!

Contrary to the unscientific statements saying that wild horses have no natural predators because they are "feral": Wild horse meat is as edible to mountain lions as beef from non-native cattle. Not only do mountain lions eat non-native domesticated bovine (cattle) that evolved Asia, but they regard wild horse (equine) young as MEAT.

+ News Flash on non-native seeds! Wild horses cannot "create" non-native seeds, such as cheat grass (which is actually inedible to cattle and horses except for spring, when mature seeds are not yet present). These non-native plants have been introduced by humans, likely through hay or protein blocks. Wild horses do not eat cheat grass with seeds, hence they do not spread them.

+ News Flash on re-seeding native seeds! Wild horses love to eat good seeds and their digestive tracts do not kill them. Hence wild horses could be fed native seeds in remote containers. They would then spread them and could be potentially utilized for just this purpose!

+ News Flash on Drought! Wild Horses also do not create drought. Climate change causes, cause drought. While hotter temperatures do increase moisture in the air, which results in flooding in some areas, there is less precipitation in the form of snow. Hence instead of gradual snow melt run off; which is needed to feed rivers year-round, river and stream levels decrease and some dry up.

+ Newsflash on Chronic Wasting Disease! UNLIKE deer, elk, and possibly cattle, wild horses do not catch/spread chronic wasting disease (a prion), even though it is spread by contaminated foliage from urine and fecal and other matter. A healthy return of natural predators like the Mt. Lion and Wolf should be looked at to take out the sick rather than only the best which hunters may go for.

See: Chronic Wasting Disease and maps:

https://www.cdc.gov/prions/cwd/occurrence.html  Further Mapping: https://www.ncwildlife.org/Hunting/Chronic-Wasting-Disease Technical Journal Article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2081988/

+ Wild Horse Ethogram: See: USGS Quantifying Equid Behavior https://pubs.usgs.gov/tm/02a09/pdf/TM2A9.pdf

+ Other Cost Issues:
The leading causes of death in the US are Heart Disease and Cancer per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Each costing the US approx. $200 Billion/year. See: Heart Disease: https://www.pcrm.org/health-topics/heart-disease , See: Cancer: https://www.pcrm.org/health-topics/cancer ,                                               

Stay tuned for more info! 

Petitions are very useful, in fact vital in some National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) Processes.

Please then, help our native wild horses and all our native wild species, both plant and animal. Sign and share!

By: Patience O’Dowd President, Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) 

Endorsed by: Dr. Lester Friedlander DVM President, Citizens Against Equine Slaughter (CAES) and Board Member of WHOA.

Edited by: Kimberly Sheppard

Helicopter Photo by: George Valentic, contracted by WHOA

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