Wild Horse Education

BLM Report to Congress Countdown (who, why and what you can do)

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Our wild horses are caught in a very dangerous political trap that will lead to the largest years of capture since the Act to protect them was passed, sterilization and decimation.

As we countdown the days until BLM releases their report to Congress we are doing a fast series of articles so you understand the actions you need to take once the report drops. A lot will be happening as the report goes public. It will be important for you to understand the report and be able to follow the roundups, the decision on the spay EA in Oregon and take appropriate action against the BLM report, that will pave the way for a subsidy grab and make the reality our wild horses and burros live much worse.

What is the Report to Congress and why it matters

The Report is a basis for creating both a budget for the program next year and changes to any legal authorities BLM may claim it requires to carry out any Congressional mandate approved in the budget debates. The Report is important (HERE).

In the introduction article we wrote:

In 2018 (for the 2019 fiscal year debate) Congress requested a report from BLM on the Wild Horse and Burro Program. On April 27 0f 2019 BLM released a report to Congress.The report, on the entire program, was shorter than an assessment document for a single roundup operation. The report was not adopted by Congress (we thank all of you that took our action and called your reps asking that they reject the report). Congress requested that BLM create a new report.

Last year was not “normal” in the way our government passes spending bills and the full package was not signed into law until the end of February 2019. (Usually a bill is passed prior to the end of a calendar year, usually October or November.) Reports requested by Congress on a program have a due date tagged to the final signing of the full bill. Unfortunately the date is not tagged to the beginning of the fiscal debate, of 180 days. The BLM Report to Congress will be public late in the fiscal debate, the last week of August.

A push by lobby groups, resulted in the BLM (in the report 2019) asking for the ability to permanently sterilize wild herds (in whole or in part), remove 20K wild horses a year to get to a dangerously low population level set in politics of the 1970’s, remove the need for BLM to be required to do full analysis on roundups (skirt NEPA), and much more (you can read more here about the combined effort of lobby groups and BLM in “Ten Years to AML + the BLM Report to Congress” in the budget debate for 2019 spending).


Screengrab of the logos at the top of “Ten Years to AML,” a lobby document.

What is “Ten Years to AML” or the “Path Forward?”

The “Ten Years to AML” document began in 2015. It was an effort largely concealed from the public by “big lobby” animal organization and “big lobby” of livestock. In the 2019 debate it was referenced by that name. In the debate for 2020 funding it is referenced as “The Path Forward,” with all contributing parties named.

note: We also believe the name “Ten Years to AML” was tainted and needed to be changed. The “Path Forward” is a play on the National Academy of Sciences Reviews (NAS) “A Way Forward.”  The NAS review is over 400 pages long and is a scathing admonishment to BLM on any assertion of science in their program. 

The parties in the alliance: ASPCA, American Farm Bureau Federation, Society for Range Management, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Public Lands Council, Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation, National Horse and Burro Rangeland Management CoalitionEureka County, NV County Commission Office Humane Society of the United States, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Beaver County, UT County Commission Office, American Mustang Foundation, Utah Governor Office

Those claiming to represent advocacy, keep using phrases like “bold plan” and “we took a brave step” to justify an absolute sell-out of our wild horses; Nancy Perry (ASPCA), Gillian Lyons (HSUS) and Neda DeMayo (Return to Freedom). They gained no ground toward any equity for wild horses and fixed not one core factor.

“American Mustang Foundation,” formed only for the purpose of this lobby effort, would supposedly place wild horses in “pasture care,” that sounds just like BLMs current long-term holding (simply replacing the system of long-term holding facilities, that already exists, and uses more than half of the entire budget of the program and will continue to do so, except funneled through this lobby org). note: The Senate appropriations panel that oversees funding for the Department of the Interior. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is the chairwoman of the panel and her chief clerk is Emy Lesofski, who is married to Drew Lesofski, head of the American Mustang Foundation. 

It is important to remember that this effort began in 2015 as many on ground organizations were engaged in site-specific management plans and the “deal making” of these paper-pushers began to destroy those efforts (the roundup, in a few short days at Fish Creek, is a direct casualty of this “backdoor deal making.” We will connect all the dots in a future article). It is important to remember involvement in a “deal” was heavily denied by the organizations, to the public, last year during the debate (even though the BLM Report to Congress named them as supporting items such as sterilization). It is important to remember that outright killing of thousands of wild horses has been rejected by the public and Congress every single year as a stand alone, concentrated, effort by all of advocacy.

Names the public should know in the livestock industry: Ethan Lane (Cattlemen’s Ass’n), JJ Goicoechea (Eureka County Commission, Cattlemen’s Ass’n, Public Lands Council, Society for Range Management, NV Ass’n of Counties. NV Dept of Ag) and, remember, National Horse and Burro Rangeland Coalition was only formed in 2016, the “Slaughter Summit” organizer, the spin off of the Summit of the Horse (Dave Duquette, Protect the Harvest).

There are other names associated with the livestock faction on the document, but the ones named above are the most well-known and the faces seen in media or Congressional hearings. These entities have been after mass removals to the unscientific AML, sterilization, etc. This agenda gives them everything and creates more opportunity for hidden deals and subsidies.

It’s not a plan

What was presented as a plan, is not a plan. It is a request for funding to roundup wild horses without addressing a single flaw outlined by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) since 1982. BLM has no scientific basis for the wild horse and burro program, only assertion and random data, without any scientific incorporation into a stable equation for the federal, heavily subsidized, grazing program for privately owned livestock.  The entire federal grazing program is a mess; without addressing that first wild horses and burros never have a chance on the range for fair management. This is a political agenda; subsidies and control.

The agenda includes a request for a lot of money to fast track large scale removals (that increase reproduction rates) to the tune of 15-20K a year to get to a stocking level, called “AML,” that the NAS has said is not valid (the number set in the 70’s as a national stocking level had nothing to do with science, just politics, and has not been changed since it was set). It would also give BLM approval to sterilize many of the wild horses left on range. In addition, a big pile of money would be funneled through the lobbyists “American Mustang Foundation,” to place wild horses in supposed “pasture care” (simply replacing the system that already exists and millions of dollars funnel through each year).

None of what is mentioned above “fixes” anything, in fact it will make the situation worse. 15-20K wild horses coming off the range for three years straight, will overload any placement effort, and we will hear pushes to kill wild horses in holding again. Without any scientifically based stocking level, and protection of critical habitat, existing populations will be decimated and their habitat destroyed by profit driven interests. Population growth rates will increase after large removals (NAS confirmed) and wild horses will be permanently, barbarically, sterilized.

Simply mandating monitoring for trespass domestic livestock, actual range monitoring and the staff to do it, fixing flawed AML, would be an actual productive beginning to a fix.

There is no provision for fixing the flawed data, creating any balance in how forage is allocated, creating baselines for genetic stability, before any large scale removal or permanently sterilizing a herd. This proposal takes a broken program, squeezes every last dollar out of it, and runs it to collapse.

The lobby alliance asked for $50 million to implement the wild horse “agenda.” The House appropriated $6 million for the Department of the Interior to begin implementation.

The Senate is still debating and, we expect, awaiting the BLM Report to Congress before taking final actions.

This plan (agenda) also includes direct BLM involvement that may violate serious ethics rules. In the rapid change of BLM Deputy Directors (while BLM had no Director) includes direct involvement by John Ruhs (now BLM Idaho Director) and Brian Steed (who was directly involved in authorship as the Chief of Staff for Christ Stewart of Utah and then went directly to sit as BLM Deputy Director). More HERE.

Make a call today. 

This funding proposal can not be approved in any fashion. The BLM Report to Congress will incorporate the deep (and likely illegal) actions of the corporate lobby alliance and BLM employees, just as it did last year. 

You can call your Senators (particularly if they sit on the committee) and tell them to reject the House version of the budget bill for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program. Ask that they call for an investigation into illegal activities associated with the document. (you can find your Senator at http://govtrack.us )


WHE will provide a full analysis of the BLM Report to Congress, how it incorporates the lobby efforts, as soon as the report is public. We will also update you on our effort to stop it.

Our “roundup watch” report will be out soon. We will update you on what is coming and what we are doing to address serious issues of humane handling, backdoor deals and more. Our team is ready to roll…



Categories: Wild Horse Education