One year ago we sat at the Owyhee roundup. It wasn’t the first roundup of wild horses in the complex and it wont be the last. For weeks we reported from the roundup, alone. Things had changed, winds had shifted and politics, that always had more power than reality no longer had reason to temper itself. The push was on to make “spay and slaughter” a mainline item in the next round of legislation. (you can read the recap from the first phase here, it’s not pretty: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2016/11/22/owyhee-wild-horse-roundup-video-recap/)
“I get so tired of having to fight stupid games. Having to fight for the First Amendment, as the grandchild of a man that fought in two world wars, is an obscenity.” Laura Leigh of WHE
We had to address our own fight. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contractor began threatening us with a “libel” suit during operations. We had to fight BLM for access to view. The threats from the contractor continued for moths. We had to engage legal council. This insane game continued into the Reveille roundup. We fought that fight not only for our observers, but for observers that show up only when the TV cameras came and left as soon as the cameras did. (Reveille roundup)
BLM is the answerable party for the actions of contractors and employees. The Ninth Circuit made that clear in our 4.5 year fight for First Amendment Rights.
That push to spay and slaughter wild horses arrived with the President’s proposed budget that was set to resume selling wild horses outright to kill. Round ’em up on the tax payer dime and put millions into the pockets of killbuyers. The first round of legislative battles in the House changed the “sell them to slaughter to “put a bullet in their heads.” The next round in the Senate has seen some progress; instead of a budget cut there is additional funding, no slaughter and a mandate to manage wild horses humanely.
However, we know that there is a political faction that believes spaying is humane. Spaying a wild horse is simply not humane, particularly when there are a multitude of valid options. This is a procedure done on domestic horses only in extreme conditions. Older mares, the only one where closing a genetic door would even be a legal consideration, would not be good candidates for such and extreme operation, in unsanitary conditions.
Many of those options involve actually learning about the wild horses and ranges they inhabit. There are many that do not want that to happen as they exploit our lands for profit, sometimes illegally. In 2016 the Government Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report, that WHE testified for, that trespass grazing by domestic livestock is a rampant problem.
One of the “Terror Tactics” that is used on managing wild horses is, “We need to kill them” presented as the only solution and then if we do “x or y” isn’t that better? Mark Amodei (R-NV) has already stated that the intention of this “terror tactic” is to help the public see spaying as a “humane option.” (You can read more HERE)
There are other tactics used in land management where terror is a good descriptive word. We have been working getting vital information to the OIG and a House investigative team since April.
Just last week we had to fight, yet again, for transparency at the Fox Lake and Range operation.
We need your help to stay in this fight.
Categories: Wild Horse Education