Intro, before the fast review of October (broken into sections to make it easy to read some, come back later and read more) and a peek into November:
“This is all so political!” is a very common statement we are receiving as people vent their frustrations as they search for ways they can help our wild horses.
Yes, it is political. Just like the grass that grows on the range, or the ore in the ground, our wild horses are considered a public resource under law. Permitted private profit uses under law, like mining and livestock, strive to maintain and increase profit off public resource.
Politics is the root of it all.
Profit driven interests hire public relations firms, lawyers and lobbyists. They pressure Congress to make laws to open more public resources and/or remove regulations that impede a profit line. Anyone advocating for protection of public resource (water, air quality, wild horses) must educate, litigate and interact with Congress to protect those resources.
This is one of those times when the pressure industry is putting on lawmakers is literally dragging us back in time and eroding the few real protections we have for any public resource. (Rollbacks on water protections is one area the general public is more aware of than the world of wild horses.)
Corporate entities, and their lobby groups, have created a situation where wild horses are in serious danger. None of this process was open, included the public (or even wild horse advocacy) and was often filled with Ethics violations. What is happening now is the same as if the boundary lines of a National Monument were obliterated without a report/document from a federal agency open to public debate and Congressional scrutiny. The cost to your wild horses will be just as devastating if this is not stopped.
The House and Senate have different version of the bill that will fund the government in 2020. The bills need to be consolidated. A temporary bill is funding the government through Nov 21.
Please call NOW using this simple script:
I am calling about Interior Appropriations for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program.
NO sales without limits (slaughter). NO sterilization (change the language in the current bill to prohibit sterilization). NO additional funding until BLM releases the Report to Congress that is over 3 months late! Maintain status quo on funding and authorities (no slaughter sales, no sterilized herds) until the BLM report is made public and scrutinized.
At Wild Horse Education we are organizing our range documentation in preparation to debate the BLM Report once it is made public. Corporate influence, stacks of assertions of data and decades of myth will populate this document (exactly the way the doc to gut Monuments was, see video).
So as you make your calls to address your reps in Congress, we will be ready to address BLM. Teamwork!
The propaganda film “Horse Rich, Dirt Poor” (one of many produced by the livestock industry) made it’s way into multiple, paid for, platforms. The controversy hit some US media outlets that are still portraying wild horses as if it is not a legally defined public resource, but as if they are a competing “use of the land.” They need to change that mindset; wild horses are, and have always been, one of our public resources hit by industry. Just like sage grouse, wolves, ravens, etc., wild horses are a heartbeat hit by industry.
William Perry Pendley is now the next Deputy Director of BLM, with acting authority of Director, under the current administration.. Pendley stated wild horses are the greatest problem threatening BLM (public) lands, even though they only exist on 12% of those lands. It should be noted that BLM has not had a single Director, that would need to pass Senate muster, during the current administration.
October began with: It is always interesting to see that foreign media, that has visited with us the last decade, always seems to place wild horses in the larger context. Compare the Washington Post with DRTV from Denmark below. that aired October 1.
In October 2019 we saw the first hearing in the House on “Extremism” on public lands.
In 2016 Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) held an informal hearing on this subject, that we urge you to watch, at the same time as a formal hearing on wild horses took place. At that time Grijalva was the minority chair, the House Natural Resources Committee Chairman was Rob Bishop (R-Utah). In 2018 Democrats took control of the House (another of those political things you need to know) and Grijalva became the majority chair and able to bring hearings like these to the floor that were obstructed by Bishop.
Grijalva was told by, certain members of the House as they pushed back against the need for hearings, there were “no real risks.” A GAO report showed hundreds of threats, including attempted murder. Federal workers often fail to report threats because they “happen so often they are now just part of the job.”
If we want to address core issues for all of our public lands? this is a big one that effects not only how federal employees create decisions for public lands, it effects the safety of those advocating for, or visiting, the public commons.
Having different interests (pro-industry v pro-enviro interest) should not be something that leaves you in fear for your life.
Federal land managers should not be determining actions on our public lands out of fear.
Today the Washington Post reported that one of the witnesses at the October hearing was the subject of a menacing social media post, where much of this combustable material grows, and have stated he is in danger.
Many Americans do not know that hardrock mining is prioritized over all other uses of public lands. They do not know that absolutely no royalty, or percentage, of the vast amounts of mineral riches removed from public lands is put into the public sphere. The American public is also responsible for the tab to clean up toxins and damage done by hardrock mining. The cost to the public is staggering.
Very few limitations, restrictions, mitigation measures are available to address this “favorite child” on public land. In fact, in the case of wild horses, there is so very little we can do to even address vehicle collisions that cause prioritized removals (the first on the list, like the removal portrayed in the video of a mare who had been chased, could not keep up, and walked away as her family was in the trap, above); we can not even get them (not on paper, in the real world) to simply slow down! Trying to address habitat quality and acreage? nearly impossible.
This legislation is a place to begin to address some of the environmental damage done in wild horse country. Many areas we travel precious water tables are dropping fast (not from drought, from rapidly increasing mining operations), water is contaminated, etc. We need tools to begin to address further damages.
In October roundup news:
Fifteen Mile in Wyoming: Wild Horses captured: 607 Returned: 95* Approximately 12 horses were not gathered, leaving approximately 107 horses total in the HMA. Deaths: 11 (including 2 broken necks and a head injury).
Antelope in Nevada: Wild Horses Captured: 918 (375 Stallions, 378 Mares, 165 Foals), Released: 17 (10 mares, 7 studs). One foal has been placed in foster care. Deaths: 11 total, Pre-existing: 9 Acute: 2.
The Antelope roundup is ongoing and targets 1250 wild horses. This is the largest bait trap operation ever attempted by BLM. It is also one of the most secretive operations with no public (or camera feed) at trap, no public during processing and loading, the wild horses shipped into a facility that is supposed to serve as “overflow” and is not open to daily visitation.
Many people believe that bait trap produces less fatalities or injuries. The method is not what produces less fatalities, the care taken during capture and handling procedure that produces less fatalities.
To monitor handling we need access. The public was denied daily access to helicopter capture and there was no humane handling policy for capture or facilities. It took years of field work and litigation to obtain access and a humane handling policy. (Enforcement of both is again at issue and we will have more on our work in that arena soon. We are the only organization in history to take abuse into court and fight in court to gain an access policy.)
At bait trap operations there is no oversight, none. No oversight to capture, handling, transport, none. As BLM moves into utilizing this method that decreases public scrutiny, will we need to revise our litigation?
When we listen to debates in Congress, or most recently the advisory board, we are still not seeing wild horses addressed in the context of a public land resource (legal definition). We are watching the same industry, political lobby, coopted agency, unscientific platform of a “wild horse problem” being used as a basis for debate, not a position in debate.
There is a big distinction between a position and a baseline. With wild horses we always see the livestock position as a baseline. The system has been off kilter since the Act was passed to protect wild horses in 1971. If we want to address core management? it needs to start with federal land managers at least making a pretense of being unbiased. If we can begin with at least a pretext, perhaps we can begin to build some logic, science and ethics into the equation? Instead we have blatant kinship in a fashion that resembles inbreeding.
The board is not made of people advocating for the welfare of wild horses and the protection of habitat from industry encroachment, addressing historic flaws in data that keep the program stuck in old cowboy myth. The board is made up of people associated with the livestock industry, the domestic horse industry, and promotes industry interests. If this were a livestock board the conversation would make sense in that it promotes the industry it claims to represent. As a wild horse and burro board? yes, it is very frustrating to watch.
Just one example of the type of individuals, hand-picked by Interior to sit on the board, is Barry Perryman. Perryman is one of the people behind litigation against sage grouse protection and promoting the new grazing schemes to increase the use of public lands by domestic livestock. “(Livestock) grazing is the only real landscape level tool we have that can mitigate (fuels and wildfire),” Perryman said in testimony against sage grouse protections in 2015.
Yet, not one advocate that has fought for wild horses, on ground and in the courts, sits on the board. In truth, the only person remotely attached to advocacy is one that works for an organization that wrote the “Path Forward” debacle in cooperation with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Ass’n and Public Lands Council.
However, watching the board fully prepares you to write your Congressman. The board gives you a very clear view of what the livestock industry (and the BLM buddy system now in charge) has presented to your representative. If you watched the board, wrote a comment, you just need to change a few words, the address, and are ready to engage your representatives. (In our October webinar we used writing to the board as a preparatory exercise to write your Congressman)
There is so much more that happened in October that we could cover here (but this piece is getting long and we get complaints on the length of our articles). However, we have increased our educational outreach. One venue, DouglasDems, sent us a portion of our presentation to their members via video. If you would like to watch? you can click HERE.
November will be another intense month in wild horse (and burro) advocacy.
Most importantly, we are in a continuing resolution (temporary funding bill) through Nov 21. That means that the “political poker game” is in overdrive to try to consolidate the House and Senate version of the budget. If they can not consolidate the status quo will be maintained for the wild horse and burro program and carry into the next temporary bill that will likely run into February.
Over the next tree weeks, please, make the call. Share it with friends, family and other advocates.
Simple script: I am calling about Interior Appropriations for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program. NO sales without limits (slaughter). NO sterilization (change the language in the current bill to prohibit sterilization). NO additional funding until BLM releases the Report to Congress that is over 3 months late! Maintain status quo on funding and authorities (no slaughter sales, no sterilized herds) until the BLM report is made public and scrutinized.
In roundups in November there will be two that almost seem chosen for this moment in the political debate; Challis and Seaman.
Roundups are not prioritized to benefit wild horses. Just like everything else, politics and industry rule the way BLM prioritizes an operation. In the last two years (while we were not in the midst of a huge sweeping policy debate) BLM removed, often fat, healthy wild horses off the range to suit powerful permittees and mining interests. Areas where there are jurisdictional “pass the buck” games between BLM and Forest Service (like Cold Creek) are neglected as they face huge intrusions from urban interface, etc. Areas like Cold Creek serve a political purpose only when guys like Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) hold up the same photo of a starving mare for 5 years to promote an agenda. Areas where BLM has a collaborative (like Challis) are also areas to hit with a helicopter when the media might be watching to present a photo of what appears “status quo” and claim fertility control does not work (while the person “collaborating” with BLM needs to hold their tongue or lose the ability to work hands on with wild horses).
We will do an extended piece on the rest of the roundup schedule soon.
As the year ends, and we come into the “home stretch” on the budget and into the holiday season, you will also see articles and alerts on wild horses from organizations, and individuals, that you do not hear much from during the rest of the year. Be really careful in the world increasingly driven by social media and public relations firms. A lot of the info will be outdated, off-the-mark, and it increases rapidly every November. Remember to check dates and use “Google” before you share.
Please remember public voices, for public lands and public horses, are extremely important.
You are the voice for our wild horses and burros, they belong to you.
Please make the calls to your call of your reps on the budget bill. If you have time? call your Senator and ask they support mining reform. Call your Congressman in the House and ask that they continue hearings into extremism on public lands and to, please, look at corruption in the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program.
It is always best to make one call per issue as the aides answering phones are not experts and can easily misunderstand or simply mark your call as one issue (example: confusing the SAFE Act, the domestic slaughter bill that protects wild horses after title transfer, with a plea to protect wild horses on public lands where protection from slaughter is worded as “ban on sales without limits.” Then you get a form letter back that thanks you for your concern about wild horses, something about the SAFE Act and not one mention of anything you said about wild horse management).
Help us stay in the fight! All of our work is possible because of your support. Thank you!
Categories: Wild Horse Education