Thanksgiving now marks the beginning of a season where many businesses go from”red to black,” beginning with “black friday.” A new social media hashtag has been created for non profits looking for help this time of year, #GivingTuesday. Holiday music has been playing in stores since the end of October.
Creating peripheral “drama storms” keeps eyes focused on the absurd. We predict this holiday season will be rather “stormy.” We predict storms coming from multiple fronts as “red to black” intensifies in a year where we are heading for a very important political election that will have a great impact on your public lands and your wild horses and burros.
This time of year WHE is very busy. Multiple planning documents and legal actions are traditionally heatedly engaged. Many years this has been the “heart” of roundup season (this year fiscal restraints have placed limitations). This year we fear what the weather might bring to our battered and beaten landscapes as animals attempt to dig through upland snow for residual forage. When they can no longer do that they will head down into the lowlands that have suffered severely in the drought of the last 4 years. If snows are heavy we cringe at the thought of what “fear based” decision making has created as agencies were remiss in long term, logical, management of domestic livestock. The entire range, and all constraints of financial and resource limitations, were not considered.
We advocate a fair and balanced process. We advocate for wild horses and burros to actually gain a fair and balanced voice and use of resource (that has NOT been attained). We advocate for humane treatment from the range and into holding. We advocate for the First Amendment, and a transparent process, that allows press and individual participation.
We continue to be amazed at how vehemently the things we advocate for are opposed. Maybe because we have shown we can win? Is that why our work is under attack?
We won on the First Amendment right to view capture and handling and to information and holding. We won against inhumane treatment during capture and handling. We have won against a lack of data and unjustified decisions. Why does that make so many people so mad?
At present we are “range focused.” We are advocating for a data component that meets the standards of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) set out in the report released in 2013. No other recommendation in that report can be carried out with any validity or integrity without it. Any fertility control must be temporary in nature until such time as that data component justifies any other action.
That data component seems to be the largest obstacle. From government agencies we hear complaints about “too much work” and a lack of resource to deal with wild horses (please remember our government agencies are overburdened by private livestock permittees to the extent that the workload of monitoring overwhelms them and riders were included in spending bills to renew permits even if monitoring data is not available. There are many citations that show the consequence).
Many (not all) public land ranchers are vehemently opposed to temporary fertility control plans. We do not think they are opposed to the treatments, but oppose the fact that with fertility control comes people on the range and cameras. The lack of monitoring on domestic livestock turnout in HMAs will cease as we understand how our wild horses interact with the environment. We honestly believe that this one fact, is why WHE is under assault.
WHE has won in federal court, not based on dramatic presentation of emotional outburst, but on factual representation of information. It is the shelter under any storm. Our work can be painted by a propaganda tornado, but the shelter of fact has stood strong against those “big winds.”
As we prepare to meet the storms we do take time to give thanks.We give thanks for our supporters that “see WHE” for what we actually do. We give thanks to have have experienced each step of this journey that we carry forward, no matter how painful or difficult. Every moment documented and burned into our hearts that creates an undeniable record of the inequity of public land management and the often callous disregard for our wild horses, we are grateful for. We give thanks for each obnoxious email or comment that simply galvanizes our resolve to reach our goals.
As we sit down to a holiday meal with loved ones we looked for a clever statement or prayer to recite that would be uplifting or cheery. It seemed very inappropriate and unrealistic to the times we face on public land and in the global community at large.
Instead, we leave you with simple quotes from Einstein:
For the government: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
For WHE supporters: “A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is not what it is built for.”
For the opposition: “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
May we give thanks for each challenge and pray we rise to meet it with courage, determination and wisdom.
We wish you all a safe, warm and meaningful holiday season and comfort from the storm.
We leave you with some of our memories, ones we are fighting hard not to see repeated (nearly 10,000 wild horses removed from the range every year). The only shelter will be to build a shield of documentation and to carry that forward into the storm.
Categories: Wild Horse Education