AT WHE our work is keeping us really busy. The government may be shutdown but that has not stopped the threats. (You can check out our update on or work HERE)
In many ways the shutdown is making it easier to demonstrate to the public the deep political threats that create the frame everything else sits on. On top of that frame sit almost two distinct wild horse and burro programs; one for holding facilities and one for the range.
In other ways the shutdown has allowed the deeper threats to create an extra layer of bubblewrap. No one can get an answer from federal workers; What is the status of proposals effecting wild horses? How can oil and gas be approved if there is no appropriate staff reviewing public input?
The threats to FOIA are alive and active. However your calls to Congress are beginning to make a wave. (KEEP CALLING). The next article in that installment will be published soon.
Before we move into the next article in the “Information is Power” series it is a good time to go “back to the basics” on flaws in wild horse and burro management. We continue to see article after article that make outlandish claims, confuse jurisdictions and befuddle the public and media. To really understand, not only the next pieces in our current series, you need to understand one of the most important pieces many would like to have you forget: the National Academy of Sciences reviews (1982-2013).
Built on a Lie; Back to Basics
Guest OPED; B.T. Kirle
Nearly six years ago, in 2013, the National Academy of Sciences, or NAS, published a report on the Wild Horse and Burro Program operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). This comprehensive report covered everything from fertility control to predator impact and genetic diversity in our wild herds, and shed light on a wide swathe of issues with the current model of action put in place by the BLM. Indeed, in every metric addressed by the NAS report, the BLM’s program was found wanting, and in some cases the BLM’s actions were found to be seriously incompetent and foolhardy. And make a note that the BLM did control the report as much as it possibly could: the scope of the report was throttled by the BLM to not include things like the accuracy of boundary lines or inhumane treatment.
A few examples of the things that were in fact covered by the NAS report, however, were;
• Wild Horse and Burro Population Estimates: the report looked into how the information of our wild herds and burros is collected and assessed by the BLM.
• Annual Rates of Wild Horse and Burro Population Growth: the report reviewed the methods of information used by the BLM to monitor the growth of the wild herds and burros, as well as if the estimates were at all accurate.
• Fertility Control: the report looked into the various tests and information related to fertility control methods to prevent and/or reduce pregnancy and bring wild horse herd population under control.
• AML Establishment: the report reviewed the BLM’s approach to establishing and/or adjusting Appropriate Management Levels (AML’s) as described within the 4700-1 Wild Horses and Burros Management Handbook.
There is a lot of obfuscation, misinterpretation, and outright falsehoods, intentional or otherwise, of the findings of the NAS report of 2013. This can be seen across the board as multiple entities and individuals take what they like from the report and discard the rest to better suit their interpretation of the report. This same misinterpretation found even at the federal level from the very first moments of the release of the report where an initial press release from BLM National included humane care as an area that the report would assist the agency; an area that, as we stated earlier, was not covered in the slightest by the NAS report.
And yet here we are, nearly six years later, and none of this issues have been addressed, at least in any real measurable way. And why is that? Why has a 1.5 million dollar report (report and meetings: direct cost) been unheeded by the BLM after all this time? Why is it that all of these flaws in the BLM system are so clearly evident by even the least perceptive observer and yet all that is found year after year is stagnation? (changes to flight inventory methods only further served an underlying agenda as BLM failed to inform the public of those changes and instead used higher inventory numbers obtained to assert a population explosion when in fact it represents a change in how they count.)
Like many things, the simplest answer to these questions rings the truest: complacency. Where an over one million dollar report performed by a national organization points out glaring flaws in the system, the BLM simply ignores it. And so begins a cycle of public outcry and governmental collar turning.
In truth, the NAS has been saying such things about the system since the 1980s, as this is by no means a recent problem, and yet the cogs of the BLM are designed to warrant inaction. Why act in the interests of the horses when all of their energy is being funneled into private interest groups? The truth is simply that the system is not something that can be tweaked for the better at this point.
The Wild Horse and Burro program needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. We are living in an infinitely different world then when the program was first drafted, and it is time that the BLM recognized that. The issues they have allowed to go unaddressed, exploited and fed over the years have magnified into the “problem” of today. The root of the problem are fictions created by obstruction, laziness and greed.
The alternative is to create, what, another million dollar report that goes straight into the garbage can?
We are exhausted by this system, that has been unyielding in it’s incompetence, for so long.
BLM needs to get back to basics. Create a truthful foundation that reflects the intention of law, instead of an argument that sounds like one on social media or at closing time at the local bar.
MORE: You can fid multiple pieces on the NAS review here: https://wildhorseeducation.org/?s=nas
You can download the NAS review here: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2013/06/05/nas-report-a-first-look/
We need your help to build a frontline long before a chopper flies.