We are going to skip any discussion about the basics of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program. Those are covered in other articles. Using the search bar you can type in key words and you will get a list of past articles to chose from. We are going to jump right into the “push back” discussion you can have with your legislators as the conversation of funding, and gutting, federal programs gets into gear.
There will be time to address the budget as it moves forward. This article is intended to get you ready.
One of the challenges for those of us that advocate for the preservation and welfare of wild, wild horses is that not only does BLM manage wild horses as a footnote on a footnote (very little time and funding in comparison to other programs) but the media also treats wild horses the same way. (Recently we covered the issue of how the movement treats and is treated by, media https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/01/25/post-truth-advocacy-and-the-hypocrisy-of-the-media-we-got-what-we-asked-for/)
So that leaves those of us defending wild horses, and the land they stand on, once again lost under the roar of conversations involving issues such as health care, social security and larger environmental issues.
In addition we have always seen the “wild horse card” played in the political poker game as the “throw away” to placate others at the table. As an example; instead of addressing the centuries old issues of how we manage domestic livestock (3% of beef utilized in the US that is subsidized by the tax payer at over a billion dollar cost over the last decade) we see wild horses, that occupy less than 11% of public land and given on average 16%% of the available forage, blamed for the problems and then removed from the range.
The danger now is that the federal government could literally play the entire Wild Horse and Burro program in the same way. This machine has the resumption of mustanging and the relinquishment of federal jurisdiction over wild horses as a central theme in it’s agenda, a lot of people forget that. When you look at history, long and short term, it is always on the manifesto. The danger is that BLM will retain jurisdiction over the grazing and mining programs, and remove the wild horses as they always do. The card played to placate.
The mechanism to do that is being built. If you do not understand how serious this is read here: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/03/15/why-scrub-when-you-can-geld/
The actual public land grab by states and private profit interests has accelerated. If you don’t understand the players and mechanisms you can search words like “sage brush rebellion, grass march, public land grab states.”
These profit driven interests want a few things right now; land and the ability to reap a profit without pesky regulations and those dang pesky environmental/animal rights advocates. As we watch this legislative landslide being introduced by Congress, Executive Orders that give the power to the man sitting in the Oval Office (and those he appoints) to eviscerate federal agencies, media and environmentalists called “enemies and threats” to freedom… we all need to recognize just how deep this goes.
Let’s dive into the piranha tank, together. Maybe one of us will make it out intact?
You can begin to call your legislators. However most of the time you need a bill number and exactly how you want your representative to respond. Most often in Congressional offices an aide, not your Congressman, is reading all the legislation and passing what they feel is important to your representative. Often language or a bill that you might be concerned about never even gets looked at or read by your Congressmen. Remember they are also under the flood of papers filed, need to make committee meetings and meet with the larger interests that got them elected in the first place. So if you get an aide on the phone don’t despair.
At this juncture beginning the conversation, freeing yourself from any nervousness you might feel calling a “Congressman” needs to get thrown by the wayside. YOU need to practice delivering your message and interacting, calmly and intelligently, with your elected officials. Remember they are there because they got votes from the public.
A call right now that simply states you have deep concern over what you are seeing; the threats to the environment, public land and … you can add anything else here like wild horses or health care. Or you can simply ask what your representatives position is on keeping public land and resources public, managed with environmental concerns as more, not less, of a priority.
Also tell them you want to see BLM get MORE funding for the wild horse program, not less. You want to see more funding going into the ground work to solve problems, not perpetuate them. When you go into this territory you may be faced with some of the “deadly traps” of advocacy. One of those traps is the word “overpopulated.” This is where those devils in the details can get you caught in conversations that trapped wild horses for decades. https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/03/03/deadly-traps-dont-get-caught/
In this fight to keep wild horses managed by the federal government we must rebuild our credibility. One of the strategies of this machine has been to use our own weakness to fight among ourselves, back stab, give platform to those that are weak, not strong. The mechanism has been built over years to move this agenda item forward. If we look at the Congressional hearing of last year we saw it in spades. (We are going to do an entire piece on, and deconstruct, that hearing for you shortly).
Many of you can understand all of this simply by looking at the work of “Wild Horse Annie,” Velma Johnston. The 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act was her “lifetime achievement.” She fought to gain federal jurisdiction to stop mustanging, the practice of capturing wild horses and grinding them up for chicken feed, fertilizer and dog food that profited anyone with access to federal land. The Act established jurisdiction but did not map out management as the concept and practice of managing and preserving public resources was being born in the 70’s, not just the wild horse and burro act. That fight was left to the rest of us.The Act has been resented since it was passed. https://wildhorseeducation.org/2016/03/09/velma-johnstonthoughts/
This battle is going to be fierce. “Distract, divide and conquer” is the motto of this movement. Don’t fall prey to it. The wild, wild horse can not continue to bear the burden of greed, apathy and ignorance.
If you get push back on the cost of the wild horse program, or that killing wild horses in holding is the only way to make the program fiscally solvent, these are some suggested replies to use on social media or to your representative:
The cost of the wild horse program is a bargain. The federal grazing program for domestic livestock operates at a loss every year to the tune of a billion dollars over the last decade. (Study by the Center for Biological Diversity http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/publications/papers/assessing_the_full_cost.pdf
It is VERY important to remember that 2.7 percent of ranching operates on public land at a massive cost. $125 million is direct subsidies in 2014. The massive cost of killing predator species is also because domestic livestock runs on public land. Good article for source material https://greenerideal.com/science/0204-us-govt-spent-125m-last-year-cattle-grazing-subsidies/
In the same year the ENTIRE Wild Horse and Burro Program cost a bit less than $80 million. Range work, roundups, adoption programs and processing and holding ALL cost less than $80 Million.
Wild horses are not a use but a resource under law. They are to be preserved and protected, not exploited.
Don’t get caught in the other deadly trap here. Remember a lot of your legislators receive massive contributions from livestock. What you are pointing out is that if we can pay that much for such a tiny return to the public from that use of our public land, wild horses are a bargain in comparison. Don’t let them tell you it feeds the country, you are some crazy extremist and against the rights of others to eat meat. You are SIMPLY pointing to a really bad investment that began during the Civil War and should have ended with it.
Range land degradation is a failure to manage grazing, all grazing, without fair and scientific allocation. We manage with a starting point of historic use and THAT has been the major cause in degrading range land. Wild horses are a fractional use and simply blamed so the real work doesn’t get done.
Killing wild horses in holding is not acceptable. It is simply lazy and ignorant. Holding is not the problem, it is the practices that lead to removals and a failure to manage the federal grazing program in a fiscally balanced fashion; investment for return. The cost to the land and the public is not “ok.” Killing wild horses or sending them to slaughter to placate that exact interest that already exploits public resource at a massive loss to the taxpayer is NOT ok.
In addition an interesting fact is in that same year the Department of Defense spent $84 million on erectile dysfunction drugs.
We are working on charts and data you can use in your correspondence and on social media.
If you are unfortunate enough to live in a district where your legislators don’t even pay attention to you remember the midterm election.
One of our readers sent a letter to her Senator asking that he vote “no” on SJ 15, the bill to do away with BLM planning 2.0. Her Senator is Dean Heller in Nevada.
He sent this as his return letter: Heller2.0Letter March2017(1)
He doesn’t even recognize that she was against repealing 2.0, against the bill. He goes on to talk about being a “lifelong rancher” and protecting “voices.”
If you have a Senator or representative that doesn’t listen to you we wrote a sample https://wildhorseeducation.org/2017/03/07/are-you-fed-up-with-a-congress-that-wont-hear-you-open-letter/
Many of them will be running for reelection in 2018, Heller included. Remember that. Watching candidates, participating and voting at the midterm might be the most important thing you can do to protect our environment, public land, wild horses and everything else you care about. If they wont listen to you, vote them out.
More very soon with specific bill numbers. But start dialing, talking and learning. Your voice matters. Talking to friends, colleagues and political figures, make it as effective as you can. Learn who your legislators are, that’s a good first step.
This is a god reference to find and track your Legislators. https://www.govtrack.us
Keep us in the fight: https://wildhorseeducation.org/ways-to-support-the-work-of-whe/