On March 3, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will testify before the House Natural Resources Committee. He plans to ask for a $12 million budget increase for the wild horse and burro program, for a whopping $75 million to be spent on animal cruelty in the next fiscal year.
The Bureau of Land Management has finally responded to intense public pressure with a plan to reform the wild horse and burro program, including a greater emphasis on population control through fertility programs. The agency is also contracting with the National Academy of Sciences to advise how the BLM should proceed and says it will hold a series of public meetings to keep the dialogue open.
These are all good steps, but the BLM plans to continue their wild horse roundups. According to their proposal, another 15,000 wild horses will be removed from public lands and sent to government holding facilities by the end of 2012. Even with increased adoptions, the number of wild horses being held captive by the government could surpass 50,000 by the end of next year ... far more than the number of horses left on the range.
In FY 2010, the BLM received a budget increase that went toward rounding up horses and warehousing them in government holding facilities. Tell the House not to make that same mistake. They should not only reject Salazar's request for a budget increase, but continue to support Rep. Burton's amendment for a $2 million budget cut.
The BLM needs to reform their wild horse program without wasting any more taxpayer dollars on inhumane roundups and keeping mustangs captive.
Recently, the house approved a $2 million budget cut to send a strong message to the BLM that the wild horse and burro program needs to be reformed. I urge you to uphold that cut and reject any requests for a wild horse program budget increase from the BLM.
The BLM's recent announcement of a plan to reform the wild horse and burro program is a step in the right direction. However, even under the new plan, there could be an additional 15,000 horses removed from public lands and held in government holding facilities at the taxpayers' expense. By the end of 2012, there could be over 50,000 mustangs in captivity; a number far greater than those left on the range.
Mustangs are part of the American heritage and should be protected under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, not rounded up in inhumane gathers and shipped a thousand miles across the country to be warehoused in government holding facilities at the taxpayers' expense.
In this economy, there is no excuse for wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. There are alternatives that are more humane and responsible. Without providing a sufficient explanation, the BLM rejected a proposal from Madeleine Pickens and the Saving America's Mustangs foundation that would have saved approximately $2,000 per horse per year. The BLM has also delayed on implementing a contraceptive program developed with the Humane Society of the United States.
The BLM's FY 2010 increase was used to continue failed policies. Please don't make the same mistake. The BLM needs to reform the wild horse program without wasting any more taxpayer dollars. Please reject their FY 2012 request for a budget increase, and continue supporting the amendment to reduce their budget by $2 million.