As wild horse advocates you face multiple challenges when addressing media, government officials and the public. Many of these challenges involve what we call the “deadly traps.” These can trap a conversation into a fictional or irrelevant debate that in truth will lead “nowhere good.” Avoid them if you can.
The talking points of the opposition revolve around key words and talking points. Many of these “talking points” have been created over the last several years, some of them land in the realm of ancient myth.
Many of the oppositions “positions of authority” have been aided by certain advocacy orgs (knowingly or unknowingly). Please remember that there are multiple “big money interests” involved that spend an awful lot of money on lobbyists and support multiple front groups. A front group presents as a non profit protecting a public interest when in fact they are a paid public relations strategy for a profit driven interest (an example would be seeing a picture of someone standing in front of an oil rig in a fragile natural habitat with the caption “Protecting your right to jobs and clean energy.” A huge oil company, that may have caused massive oil spills and killed miles of coastlines, saying that would not get the same reaction as a group called something like, “Your Energy, Your Life”). The objectives of these front groups are to push forward the bottom line, nothing else, no matter what side they appear to represent. In wild horses we have proslaughter groups, in bed with the federal managers that aide them, presenting as “Mustang Logic.” It’s just a fact of the world we live in.
When we deal with public land issues we often see those that manage federal resource aid one interest over another. This is a reality due to multiple factors; intimidation, family and friends, or expectation of job offers as they retire and entire the private sector. This is not fiction; collecting a paycheck off the tax payer and repeating an “oath of office” is not a resume factor that demonstrates impeccable character. “Fair multiple use,” are only words not actions.
- “Wild Horses populations are exploding.” No they are not. The fact is that wild horse populations have grown slower in the last 3 years than in years prior. Large scale roundups increase reproduction rates. A decrease in roundups slowed growth from 20-22% to 16%, according to BLM’s own statistics. Increasing large removals will increase reproduction, compounding any management practices on range.
- “Advocates won court cases against fertility control.” No they didn’t. Litigation was filed that had claims against fertility control in complaints along with allegations against faulty paperwork. Both activist organization and counties (along with ranchers) filed such complaints. The first complaint against the use of PZP in Nevada was made by Eureka County and members of the ranching community including a rancher found in trespass (illegal livestock grazing). After the “ranching community” could be pointed at as stopping a solution a multimillion dollar organization began to file claims. None of the claims against fertility control (PZP) were successful. Only one of the filed claims created a legal decision against the removal, Pine Nuts. That case only won against the BLM doing what it often does, a lousy job on paperwork centered around numbers, an area that is really not their strong suit. The other two projects in Nevada were shut down by the BLM State office (or District office) due to other circumstances. Documents addressing BLM actions that effected appropriate actions on the ground have been requested through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and BLM has refused to disclose information.
- “Wild horses are starving by the thousands.” This has been perpetuated through the use of photographs (taken primarily in 2015). The areas photographed are all areas that were known likely to fall into distress, due primarily to drought, yet federal managers did nothing. A group of photos from Cold Creek NV in 2015 have been seen making the floor of debate with no context. The area is jointly managed by the BLM and Forest Service (FS) and was a known issue for a very long time. FS did nothing and BLM had refused to work on fertility control with local advocate groups for over 6 years. Of important note is that the BLM, that essentially created the situation, uses those same photos in their public relations handouts. It is extremely illogical to say thousands of wild horses are starving on the range yet pushing against restrictions to domestic livestock. How can a range be so deteriorated that horses starve but cows wont? If horses need to be removed because they are starving the area should have livestock grazing prohibited for at least two years so the range can begin to recover.
- “Wild horses are an invasive species.” We also know climate change is a myth, right? Science can be deleted like a webpage. All scientific documentation shows that wild horses would be most aptly referenced as a “reintroduced native.” However when it comes to the law under multiple use the argument is irrelevant. There is no fossil record of primitive man grazing millions of European cattle, strip mining, ATV use or hunters with high powered rifles and scopes.
- “Advocates bankrupt the system with litigation.” That is an absurdity. If federal land management followed the law litigating would be far too frustrating to engage in. Incompetent decisions, that were also paid for with tax payer funding, cost the tax payer.
- “We’ve tried everything we can, we have no choice.” This is the most outrageous of all. Federal land managers have in truth, done nothing. Wild horses are a fractional user of federal grazing land. In order to address it appropriately, they would have to address the federal grazing program.
The federal grazing program has never stood on solid ground, ever. It has been a tax payer subsidized industry not to feed the nation, but to maintain local political control. Only 3% of beef utilized in industry (97% comes from the use of private resource) consumes nearly 80% of available federal grazing land (public resource). It operates at a loss of $125-$150 million a year losing the tax payer over $1.2 BILLION in the last decade. Multiple federal programs are run to satisfy the industry including killing natural predators like mountain lions and removing wild horses. More than half of livestock permits are renewed without a rangeland health evaluation. It’s not about jobs for the masses either, one casino in Vegas employs more people than the entire agriculture industry in the state.
Not one single subsidy to livestock is touched in the budget yet we propose to line wild horses up by the tens of thousands and put a bullet in their heads. We propose this because getting the federal grazing program inline would lose campaign contributions and scare the life out of most federal land managers that already spend a lot of time hiding behind their bureaucratic shields.
This is not a debate based on the facts of an unfortunate crossroads. This is simply politics. Know who says what, know who they are, who they work for and what motivates them… no matter whose t-shirt they might wear. Be careful out there.
Lining up tens of thousands of wild horses to take a bullet is not an appropriate action to take in order to continue business as usual on federal land.
Additional Notes: For decades advocates have been saying BLM had no data. BLM said advocates were overly emotional. The National Academy of Sciences proved advocates were simply frustrated with BLM fictions. We are not overly emotional now.
A vote in the Senate on the proposed budget is expected the first week of September. Make the call.
Contributions will be doubled until August 3, 2017 midnight pacific time. The donor extended the match because we never got out a fundraising letter, we have been in field and in conference. These are busy times.
Categories: Wild Horse Education