Wild Horse Education

BLM Report to Congress + 10 Years to AML = a bigger mess than 1971

This two part series is presented to address the “grass fire” in advocacy over the announcement of the “management strategy” created by the livestock industry in conjunction with corporate “advocacy organizations.”

You can not understand the problem without understanding it historically, psychologically and in context.

BLM is crafting a new “Report to Congress,” expected in about 30 days. The (cough) innovated plan by industry is simply the preemptive public relations to clear the path for the “ask.” The ask will be to remove 10-20K wild horses a year for up to 5 years, sterilize 80% of the wild horses on the range and to create new subsidies for those that take large numbers of wild horses into what is being dubbed “private care” (but it includes subsidies to permittees that run horses on allotments that are public land and horses are already there).

We are going to focus on BLM jurisdiction. They manage more horses than all other jurisdictions combined and where the legal definition of “wild” applies. It is also where these reports are relevant. They will not apply to state, tribal, etc.

We will publish the breakdown comparison between the BLM report and Ten Years to AML,  “as fast as we can.” (Devils in the Details published 4/28 https://wildhorseeducation.org/2019/04/28/blm-report-10-years-to-aml-part-two/)

We are trying hard to “not get too technical” or “wordy.” Our inbox has been flooded since Monday and we hope this answers many questions.

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Utah wild horse

Background

1971:

  •  The New York Times published the Pentagon Papers
  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education: The Supreme Court of the United States rules unanimously that busing of students may be ordered to achieve racial desegregation.
  • Boxer Joe Frazier defeats Muhammad Ali in a 15-round unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden
  • The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act is passed by Congress establishing federal jurisdiction over free roaming horses and burros on public land.

The United States created many laws that focused on the environment and impacted species; The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act, Lead-based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act, Endangered Species Act, etc. We recognized that our wild places and things had value and the rampant exploitation had consequence. The consequence included intense damage to the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Over the last few years there has been an outright denial of threats to our planet (like Climate Change) and attacks on any regulation that restricts the ability of industry to reap profit over environmental cost. A lot of this is rooted in resentment. Resentment takes many forms.

The 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRH&B Act) established federal jurisdiction and essentially ended an unregulated practice of “mustanging.” Mustanging was a free for all where anyone could go pull horses off of public land, using any brutal method they chose, and profit off the sale for chicken feed, fertilizer and dog food (others simply poisoned water sources to kill mustangs for eating grass they wanted for cattle).

Mustanging had driven the free roaming horse population in the western US down to less than 30,000 animals, a number Congress declared was “fast disappearing.”

The resentment over federal jurisdiction was fierce; resentment over the federal government for trying to limit the number of cows on the range due to a century of bashing it into dust, trying to regulate run off and waste being pumped into our water systems, regulation over trapping fur-bearing species into oblivion.

The work began immediately to limit any “dang fed from coming in and telling me I can’t mustang and they are not going to come into my allotment and tell me how many horses I need to leave out there!” (note: allotments are not private property, they are your public lands). A claiming period ran from 1971-1975 and 17,000 horses were claimed as private property (mustanging continued) in the state of Nevada alone.

In 1975 the claiming period ended and the first survey work began. The “survey work” was heavily influenced by local politics, bullying and the fact that many federal employees had ranching families or were ranchers themselves. These so called “surveys” created absurd boundary lines that did not include “the land horses stood,”  did not accurately represent the number of horses and, in many cases, recommended not managing horses at all in most places. These surveys still stand as the basis for the beginning of any conversation of “what we are managing.” (This is where that national assertion that the land can only sustain 27,000 wild horses comes from.)

The first official roundup of wild horses under the new law was in 1975. It saw BLM skirt the entire paperwork process of NEPA, the state of Nevada filed legal action claiming the Act was illegal and they had the right to send those horses to slaughter. The judge said “no” on both counts and BLM could not just remove horses any time they wanted to make more room for cow chow. (more here)

Other environmental legislation of the day was fiercely defended and defined by environmental activists. Wild horses had an extremely diverse group that did not follow through on defining the legislation in land use planning, but created an odd push pull that spent more time addressing the horse only after it was removed from the range; adoption, sanctuary, training programs. Wild Horse Annie (Velma Johnston), who had been the driving force for the Act itself, was run over. She was angry at the time of her death and her core work, protecting the wild, almost died with her. (more here)

In the game of “resentment” removing wild horses became an appeasement tool. Rancher mad about a cut back on forage for cows during drought? remove wild horses. Ranchers mad about restrictions because of sage grouse or any other species? remove wild horses. Rancher caught removing wild horses? quietly tell him not to get caught and he really should not do it again.

A Critical Issue, the Foundation 

Many Americans believe that the BLM has stacks of paper that identify herds, migratory routes and critical habitat, they don’t. The public thinks BLM has the same kind of information on wild horses as they have on sage grouse, mule deer, elk… they don’t. It appears, as you sift through historic records, that wild horses have been kept vague, almost with intent. The BLM Wild Horse and Burro program, on range staff, is so sparse it could barely be called a skeleton crew. That staff spends much of it’s time learning how to repeat memos, permit livestock and mining, and usually simply copies and pastes old data (with a few minor updates) for any wild horse document.

Since the 1980’s the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has called BLM data collection and assessment, abysmal. In 2013 the NAS once again called the BLM “lacking science based foundation” and, at one point, state they could not distinguish between assertion of data and what a BLM manager simply made up to justify an action.

After the last NAS report was done BLM began to change inventory methods. Yet, they continued to compare the numbers from the new methods (that pad numbers as well as more efficiently count actual numbers) to the old numbers. “We now have 80,000 wild horses and the land can only sustain 27,000!”  This is an equation that would not pass the muster of any fifth grade teacher; it fails Algebra “101.”

But this is the basis for both the BLM report to Congress and the “Ten Years to AML” corporate creation document (you can read it here: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2019/04/22/betrayal-goes-public/)

The BLM Report To Congress Is On It’s Way, “With Corporate Blessings” 

The BLM Report to Congress that was released last year is critical reading for anyone that calls themselves an “advocate.”  (you can find it here)

The 25 page document is an almost verbatim wish list created in the summit of the wild horse organized by pro-slaughter. However, it is also a document that incorporates the “Ten Year to AML” discussions with corporate “advocacy.”

Yes, the 25 page report was deemed inadequate by Congress (and we thank all of you that took action). However, you were not the only ones taking action. The corporate advocates all hired “lobbyists” (or already had them on payroll) and did selfies on Capital Hill telling you they were “saving horses.” They were also moving their agendas forward in secret meeting with guys like Chris Stewart (R-Ut).

They (HSUS, ASPCA, Return to Freedom, American Mustang Foundation) took advantage of the unstable political ground and created an alliance with what advocacy as a whole has dubbed “the wild horse killer summit.”

They did not fight them. They did not fight the environmental destruction running rampant taking critical resources from your wild horses. They did not fight those that want more control over public lands, more subsidies. They did not launch a massive campaign against cronyism and corruption. They joined them.

We tried hard to address these issues both publicly and in discussion with these groups and we will write more on that later.

We tried hard to get YOU to pay attention but can not compete with their funding, and their silent partners that have a stake in this game, that create massive paid campaigns out of nothing to get you distracted and trained to “click a button.”

What is going to hit the wild ones is much more important right now and you must pay attention or it is over.

That part of the mainstream discussion was lost, until Monday of this week, when these “collaborators” released a press release in advance of the next BLM report.

What Comes Next

We can not say this enough: Wild horses are the only animal in our nation legally defined by where it stands, not what it is biologically. Wild horses are public lands management, not dogs and cats.

We will do a break down of the BLM report (2018) and the “Ten Year to AML” in the next installment later this afternoon.

What is coming is heading in hard and fast. But when things move in that fashion they can often overlook a few simple things like a gopher hole, or slick pavement, fall and break their necks.

We are digging gopher holes as fast as we can.

You?

Find your Representatives here: http://govtrack.us

I do not support the plan created by corporate industry for wild horses. I do not support the “Ten Years to AML” proposal from HSUS, ASPCA, Return to Freedom, The America Mustang Foundation, Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Farm Bureau.

Tell them:

I do not support any plan that changes the Wild Horse and Burros Act. No new authority for BLM. No changes to their responsibility under NEPA. No large removals, sterilization or sales to slaughter.

BLM must be mandated to create the plans to preserve the herd and habitat outlined by law and their own handbook.

BLM can not be allowed to build more tax payer dollars on top of a corrupt program. Investigate this “BLM Report to Congress” and the corruption that lead to it. (under Ryan Zinke and Brian Steed, more here)

We need the truth of the wild horse today, and it’s habitat recognized and preserved, prior to any discussion that involves removals and actions we can never undo, like sterilization.

The core is rotten. We need a serious investigation into the corruption in the wild horse and burro program. (please read: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2019/03/06/underneath-the-headlines-wild-horses-and-national-monuments-hand-in-hand/)

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Roundups start long before a helicopter flies. 

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Categories: Wild Horse Education