Wild Horse Education

Update; Appropriations, Range Work, FOIA, NEPA and things overlooked (Congress)


Checking in with our outreach team:

Wild Horse Education’s outreach team engages in multiple educational outreach activities. Many of you know about the talks we give at schools and clubs. But did you know those teams provide info to members of Congress?

Over the last few months our teams have provided information to members of Congress at their DC offices and local offices. Over the last two weeks WHE has intensified those efforts as the debates in Appropriations move forward and begin in the Senate.

Most of you have been following this years debate for spending bills that will begin funding federal agencies in October, the fiscal year 2020. This years debate began with a “bang” that could not be missed; HSUS, ASPCA and Return to Freedom, announcing the “proposal” they have been working on with Cattlemen’s Ass’n, Public Lands Council, NV and Utah Counties, etc. The proposal is about as innovative as flint is to start a fire and it solves absolutely nothing in the wild horse program; it creates a new subsidy system and opens the door to gutting the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRH&B Act). These are the things our opposition has wanted since the day the Act was passed. It was handed over to them for potential cash subsidies and a few co-sponsors on domestic bills in the game of politics.

The document that they titled, for 2020 debates as “the Path Forward,” is the same scheme titled “Ten Years to AML” ran in 2019; same channels, same people. Although vehemently denied in 2019 all parties are pushing massive public relations campaigns in this next round.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this channel of lobbying for programmatic funding and policy change, is the internal involvement of BLM employees. That is illegal.

Much of this is happening in the “game of Deputy Directors” that involves two men, specifically, John Ruhs (former NV State Director) and Brian Steed (former Chief of Staff of Rep. Cris Stewart, who began authoring these changes in 2015). (WHE have filed a formal complaint with the OIG.)

Wild horses are public lands management. 

The statement above seems simple enough to understand.

Everything involving a wild horse, before it is titled after adoption or sale, is governed in the “law books” of public lands. After title, a horse that was once wild under law, is governed in the law books on domestic horses.

Even when WHE litigated issues of inhumane treatment at roundups (WHE is the only org in history to do that to date), we had to address those issues within the frame of federal (public lands) law.

(note: it was not always this way. Until Conrad Burns snuck the “sale authority” rider into Appropriations, wild horses retained their status under law for their lifetime. This is also the rider that opened the door to sell wild horses to slaughter, a provision that has been defunded since the year it was placed “on the books.” These riders are a backdoor to amending laws without creating stand alone bills that would never pass. It is what is happening with the shenanigans in the FY2020 debate, now. More HERE.)

Everything about the “wild horse” is a public lands conversation when we talk about creating any change that could benefit them.

Example of “where this is not what it seems” :

There was never any “HSUS, ASPCA or other large corporate animal rights org” actually fighting against helicopters hitting wild horses, babies run until they drop, etc. They were not  “on ground or in the courts” (wild horse welfare). Sure, they talked about it in mailers, but they never took on the fight, in fact, they often obstructed it in the politics of selling their “PZP” and not wanting to upset “the deal.” The only time we saw them take up a “welfare issues” in legal terms is when it involved a slaughter issue, one that could push a domestic bill. (Temporary fertility control like PZP is a tool, not a solution, and BLM requires no new authority or “deal making” to use it. Minimal use of PZP is not a negotiating tool to open the door for all of the horrors this political game ensures. Claiming this stops slaughter? that provision has been defunded since the year it hit the books and could be fought, as it has every year, with a stand alone effort. This is political poker packaged in million dollar PR.)

What you all see happening now has that same simple premise; ignore the real issues, mention them only enough to keep public interest, yet do not fight for them or you “upset the deal.”

Many do not understand how different wild horses, and the fight to protect them, actually is (from a legal standpoint) from domestic issues under law.

Those in wild horse advocacy, like our readers, understand this. But we have to recognize messaging, media, etc is confused and it has carried to our law makers.


Yes, our team does visit Congressional offices

Over the last few months our teams are working hard to educate Congress to the simple fact that wild horses are public lands management. 

The issues that face wild horses today range from threats to gaining basic information through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests being thwarted, loss of habitat that goes unmitigated by hard rock mining, oil and gas, multiple attempts to remove the public from input (including gutting protest periods from 30-45 days down to a mere 14). BLM creating crisis in backdoor deals to forward the agenda; remove wild horses to make more cow chow.

In addition, the roots of any problem lie in the federal agencies; sheer lack of data based decisions, internal and external corruption, illegal use of the land through trespass grazing, those that throw threats of physical harm, and inability of law makers to see wild horses as range management first and foremost.

Fast example: One of our team members was engaged. in conversation with a Senator. She was handed a copy of the endorsement for a bill to protect horses from slaughter. Our rep thanked them, but then pointed out that is not wild horse management, that happens after wild horses are covered in the law books for domestics. The particular horses being referenced face another roundup this year with absolutely no changes to the framework of the roundup, nothing. A bill that addresses data deficit, inequity in allotment of forage, etc. addresses the wild horse, not the formerly wild horse.

Both need protection, but the conversation and legal channels are distinct. When it comes to federal law? those distinctions are even more critical. 

As an advocacy for the wild, we must begin with the wild. That is where it all begins and ends. If we do nothing to address the data deficits, the corrupt and backdoor deals to satisfy livestock (like removing waters with no public engagement and then creating “crisis,” removing wild horses back down to a number that represents well known failures), allow those that break, distort and corrupt the law to run the conversation of management… nothing proposed fixes anything, it perpetuates it.

Members of Congress need to stop listening to those with no range experience, and a domestic animal political bent, on the wild horse issue. Wild horses are a public resource governed under public lands law. Every single deficit (including the lack of basic data) begins in the failure to recognize this simple fact (they are a public lands issue) and treat wild horses as the law intended. 

Wild horse welfare issues are also addressed in public land law. We know, we were the ones that fought it in court until BLM created the frame for a policy. These issues are central to the work of WHE, but it is all public lands law, policy and framework.

We even had to point out that in the ongoing revision of oil and gas corridors (energy corridors), wild horses were not even on the map. That is how far removed wild horses actually are in the conversation of public lands. (more HERE)

We need a “status quo” on the wild horse program, no changes, until a serious investigation is completed. You can help us move these conversations forward by taking the action outlined HERE. 

It is critical that our lawmakers begin to recognize that wild horses exist in the same hands as National Monuments, sage grouse, wolves… not dogs and cats. (more about Zinke’s dirty moves on wild horses and National Monuments HERE).


We need your help. Roundup season begins again WHE has been offered a match! Can you help us stay in this fight to bring justice against abuse and equity in management, for wild horses? 

You can double your donation today. (through July 8, 2019)


Categories: Wild Horse Education