At the bottom of this page is an action item to take. It requires you to pick up a phone. This article explains a bit about why you need to address the FY 2018 by calling your legislators next week.
We have written multiple times over the last several years about “what is coming,” an all out assault against our wild places and wild things. Trying to gain attention and support to fight against a massive buildup of what is truthfully the third leg of the sage brush rebellion has been extremely difficult as the “new weapon” of social media was refined and used masterfully by the opposition.
We can not go back in time and rectify the errors, but we can push back effectively today. That will require that you refrain from falling prey to regurgitating anything that feels exaggerated or to do things like “bust a caps lock,” where you send letters to Congressman in all capital letters or even simply on specific words. The opposition is well funded, slick and aware of every single flaw in advocacy.
How many petitions have you signed to speak out against the fiscal year 2018 proposed budget that is aimed at sending wild horses to kill buyers? Have you read those petitions carefully to make sure they do not muddy your voice by including other items that may/may not be factual or relevant? Are you aware that cross referencing petitions that all have the same names negates the validity and value? Are you aware that often the same names of members of the public will appear on petitions that actually contradict each other in the text of the petition?
One of the consequences to multiple petitions and sign on letters is that the number of people actually picking up the phone and calling drops off. Your representatives need to hear directly from you. Your vote keeps them in their seats. If they do not hear from you, they do not know how you will vote. 100,000 or more names on a petition that never reaches your elected official will not help you to keep an elected official aware of the voters in his district.
There are other consequences to not using your voice or researching what you read.
“I had a conversation with an extremely intelligent journalist I have known for a very long time. This journalist has followed wild horse issues for years and has done his own investigative reporting, not aggregation. He was actually confused thinking the FY 2018 budget that actually is the opening of the door to ship tens of thousands of wild horses to slaughter was the same issue advocates ‘busted a caps lock’ about last fall and earlier this year about the FY 2017 budget and transferring horses to Forest Service that was not intended as a backdoor to slaughter. It took me a few minutes to get him to comprehend, remember he has tracked advocacy a long time. He got it. But it never should have been something I had to convince him of. I find this same kind of effort in everything because of mis messaging and a tendency for journalists, real ones, to put advocates into the realm of crazy cat ladies. I have been afraid that this reality is going to lead exactly where we stand, on the verge of watching our captive wild ones turned into a big ticket giveaway to livestock.”
note: There are news orgs that aggregate and advocacy orgs that do not go into the field but gather content primarily from others and then put out a press release on things they have no personal knowledge of CLICK HERE for more about new legal precedents being set against those that steal content and leave the ones that created it broke. We did an article, actual several, about news media and advocacy, you can CLICK HERE to read one. The dangers of aggregation are that the source and context get lost and become become easily manipulated.
Do you understand why sending tens of thousand of wild horses is now a provision in the budget?
In 2012 Dave Philipps, a Pulitzer nominee, came to a roundup at Stone Cabin because he was interested in wild horses. A story broke (click here) about a connection between former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and more than 1700 wild horses going to a kill buyer, Tom Davis. This story was aggregated numerous times by multiple people without attribution, so listen to the interview at the previous link if you want the story of the investigation. Please be aware that this professional journalist that spent nine months working this story, not a wild horse advocate, was sent “bust a caps lock” hate mail from advocates and was even ripped apart in articles by so called “advocates” because he did not mention one org or another or used the word “feral” in conversation. He broke the largest story in a decade on the truth about wild horses being sold to slaughter en mass and received hate mail from advocacy.
An Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report confirmed his reporting as fact. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) changed the sale contract. The reporter kept watching.
At the same time the “Sage Brush Rebellion” was mounting against federal control of any resource. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began to address threats to the Greater Sage Grouse. Massive amendments to land use planning to protect habitat were being proposed and if not, the bird would be listed on the endangered list. Drought hit the West creating more tension. Bunkerville, Grass March, and multiple other areas of contention pushed hard against any federal restrictions.
The parameters and jurisdiction established in the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act is one of those restrictions. States, counties, lawsuits and “manifestos” included some for of a resumption of domestic horse slaughter and a resumption of state control over wild horses with the ability to once again send wild horses to slaughter for profit (what the 1971 Act prohibited).
The agenda is not a new one. However at this juncture it is wrapped in so many layers of other agenda, personality conflict and years of mismessaging that Congress, media and even advocacy itself are often confused.
Use your voice.
Authenticity of voice is crucial. If you care but are confused, say so. If you are nervous talking to a Senator, say so. If you know something is relevant but do not have first hand knowledge point to the source, it is vital that critical context does not get lost. Taking the time to simplify your message and then deliver it with confidence and calm is important.
Your call can be as simple as; “I live in your district and have never called your office before and I’m nervous. But there is an issue that I really care about. The proposed budget strips $10 million from the BLM wild horse program and proposes to send wild horses in holding to slaughter. As an American that is simply not ok with me.”
If your legislator (likely an aide) says; “But we have thousands of wild horses starving and we need to do something.”
Do not loose your cool here, stay calm. You can reply in several ways depending on your comfort level.
Potential 1, if you find yourself getting upset or feeling overly flustered: “I believe you are mistaken. Can I have an email to send you addition information?” This response allows you to take the conversation into a place where you can collect your thoughts. In an email you can add attachments from orgs with data, not aggregation.
Potential 2, if you feel informed and calm: “Can you provide me with a source for your information? I’d like to look at it and I have additional concerns.” Then you can talk about industries, like livestock, that are intensely subsidized and lose the tax payer over $150 million a year in revenue that is not reflected in the simplistic receipt count but reflected in cost receipt comparison. You can express concern that not one of those subsidies is addressed in the budget. You can then ask for an email to send documentation that counters any claim of wild horses being responsible for degradation and not simply scapegoated for it.
Always remove yourself from the conversation if you find your frustration with the conversation mounting.
Keep your calls as brief and polite as possible.
Always ask for an email to send information to. We all have that moment where we say “I wish I said this or that.” Sending a follow up email allows you to continue the conversation.
The most important thing you can do for our wild ones is call, be calm and authentic.
Making your call, (an example video at the bottom of this page).
Find your Representatives: https://www.govtrack.us/
Some info to help with your calls. Info on livestock, intimidation and the wild horse program.
For those that want to learn more:
For those of you that want a breakdown of process on how bills become law, including budgets, and on how, in a normal year, you express your voice in public land process we will be running a webinar.
The webinar will be Saturday, July 1 at 4 pm pacific time. Attendance is limited to 50 participants. We will send you a participation code as a thank you for contributions to the work of WHE. WHE have begun to litigate as well as continue our range work. We need your help to continue our work. Click the link below and contribute $25. or more and we will add you to the list. You will receive an email to guide you through the sign in. A follow up, after the webinar, will provide you with reading material and worksheets. If you do not receive the follow up email or have trouble signing in, contact WHEAdvocates@gmail.com
First time call to a Senator. This is a long video but we prep and walk a first time caller through the process and engage in some conversation you might find helpful.
Categories: Wild Horse Education