no pictures or video, just a note from our founder: Laura Leigh
As the year 2019 draws to a close it is custom to reflect on all that happened and create “resolutions” to correct flaws or conditions to improve in the following year. 2019 also closes out a decade, and that reflection process is even more intense.
As I sit here crafting the traditional eMagazine for Wild Horse Education I must admit to all of you my knees are buckling under the weight of the experiences that the last decade has shown me. The task is always the same, “How do I write to impart the needed knowledge, prepare those that read to take careful and educated action? How can you do that when you can’t buy media or politicians or, heck, can not buy an expensive website and one vehicle repair can eat your entire budget?” (Is it even ok to say that as we face such a high stakes fight where the public sees a champagne social and big bank account as a sign of credibility?)
I don’t just want to fill up a page with words and pictures or video and throw in a donate button. Don’t get me wrong, year end fundraising is critical to all nonprofits and we are not an exception. But I am obviously not “organization building.” With WHE’s actual resume? if marketing was the objective we would be a heck of a lot bigger. The next task, case, fight was always the focal point. “Education” is in the name of the organization for a reason; an educated public is the only hope that this obscenity of an assertion of equitable management will ever truly change.
In 2019 the betrayal of both advocacy and the wild horse went public. Huge corporate machines wrote both spending bills in the House and Senate. The “Ten Years to AML” fiasco is the driving force behind the pending Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Report to Congress, as it was last year. The goal is money, more money and power over your public resources without any consideration for preservation of wild, or even anything that resembles ethics.
Some of the corporate machines are easy to spot because they openly represent industrial products you recognize as “industry.” In 2009 the CEO of HSUS coined the phrase “Animal Welfare Industry.” I paid attention to that term, did you? Many that work in that industry also adopted the corporate mindset and moved up the food chain, answered ads for jobs in the industry and went to work coopting that market share. Wild horses were a “market share.” Many of these orgs are easy to spot with their names openly on the documents waved in Congress by Chris Stewart (R-UT) earlier this year. Some are harder to spot as they “co-opted” the market representing what could be an obstacle to the agenda and pushed the House $6 million version, and the Stewart coalition pushed the $35 million.
It all came together in the version that is now law, an additional $21 million released after the report comes out. The report is now simply being referenced as “an aggressive fertility control plan.”
How those funds are distributed is now the first battleground coming in 2020. The corporate agenda set to roll and the “how it rolls” is the next debate. However, much of this debate has already occurred; creating justified, data driven, decisions is not a key factor on any corporate agenda. Key factors include: large scale removals driving populations to a politically set stocking number (AML), sterilization methods (surgical spaying or just chemical spay and gelding), how holding facility funding will be distributed and how the few tiny areas where darting temporary fertility control will be allowed will be done (volunteers or creating a new government contract like the one used for roundups). All the big money, corporate interests, has there eyes on one of these “prizes,” no matter what they put in a mailer to you.
There are keys to this battleground.
The first is adamantly, rigidly, unwaveringly adhering to the logical and legal premise that only “creating justified, data driven, decisions” is a legal mandate. This battlefield is filled with bought and paid for junk science and decades of “buddy club myth” that drives the program (not an opinion, the National Academy of Sciences backs this up). The greatest obstacle here is the validity the big corporate “advocates” have given to these obscenities to get a seat in political poker for profit. (The other corporate wave that went for the $6 million package also gave a credibility boos to this frame as they push for contracts.) Members of Congress have listened to those that fly in first class and whose “Legislative funds,” or wealthy CEO’s, have contributed to political campaigns. We need to get them to listen to you, the facts and the law.
The second key is the blatant corruption, lack of ethics and actual fact, in the entire mechanism. Demanding accountability through an investigation into the BLM Report, and ever hand that touched it, is the first line of defense. Again, this wont be easy as there are many at that table that do not want their action known, because they have lied to you. The livestock industry has no regrets or shame, they did what their members want and the massive removals (already beginning) are the net result. But those in the “Animal Welfare Industry?” They will not want any serious investigation that could expose unethical conduct like fraud. (A key to understanding who is actually fighting for wild horses will be how they message you once that report hits, pay attention.)
I struggle. None of this happened “overnight.”
Yes, 2019 was the year many that populate “wild horse advocacy” felt betrayed. But I sit here reflecting on the last decade of back stabbing, spin and betrayal. The simplest to convey in context of what is coming is that, admittedly, the maneuvers demonstrated through the document (Ten Years to AML) waved by Stewart began in 2015. Last year they were openly included, by name, in BLM’s Report to Congress. When questioned they simply lied. Many people just believed them, continued to donate and share their expensive mass marketing mailers. All they has to do was say “we are fighting for humane treatment and oppose slaughter” and the betrayal stayed hidden until it appeared again ahead of the debate. They told Congress YOU support them and signing those bills is what YOU want.
In 2016 I tried to tell you. I was bashed and slandered; nothing new in advocacy world. Those in the “Animal Welfare Industry” did absolutely nothing to stop abuse at roundups and invested not one dollar in the fight, just in mass marketing. WHE is the only org in history to take it to the courts over and over to gain the beginning of a policy; but we did not have the money to “mass market.” Instead I faced ruthless attacks on social media including a spokesperson for a large “industry” east coast org writing to editors of magazines and making the assertion that I faked cancer for money!
All of this made it nearly impossible to expose the big picture, but we did not quit. We fought back and two (former) Deputy Directors, and a Secretary of the Interior, have left their chairs as we now set our sites on William Perry Pendley (acting Chief of BLM). “Wild horses” are not the only places of unethical actions and resulting complaints, but WHE did our part even as those orgs playing political poker tried to impede our efforts. Over the last couple of years there are cases against abuse we could have filed but were run over in the “mass market” by another org that was busy co-opting that market (so we got creative and continued that legal fight, quietly, and will update you soon). Our range work helped tank the last BLM Report to Congress earlier this year (we submitted a 238 page rebuttal) and we are ready to hit them again. Massive oil and gas corridor planning did not even include wild horse habitat on the map, let alone a preservation strategy. WHE got them on the map, a first step.
Yes, I can write about the things we did in 2019 in a long and impressive list, and we will. Even more impressive is the list that covers the last decade. (I did our year in review AFTER I did this note. The note is important. You need to be ready. HERE)
But that list will not prepare YOU for all that is coming. I wish I could simply download all I have seen and experienced and you could just upload it directly into your heads (I know, a bit sci-fi). I struggle with the word “how.”
This battle is not simply the political fight. This battle is not one of “rules, regulations and law” that apply equally. This battle includes many skirmishes that include callousness, cruelty and degradation simply because they can. Those wounds feel like tens of thousands of tiny razor cuts to the soul of an advocate; intended to weaken resolve and distract. Over the last few years that tactic has increased. I know all of you feel them. I know I do.
We can not allow that tactic to be successful. Over the next year “cruel and degrading” is a tactic that will increase. The undertone of violent action, as demonstrated in one single hearing this year in the House on “Extremism,” will increase.
Glossy propaganda will increase. In “wild horses” that increase will come fast as the biggest battle is just over the horizon. Start asking for proof that what they market is actually what they do!
The next critical battle begins in just days. WHE, and myself, will do our very best to guide you through and we will fight with all we have.
Wild Horse Education has been offered a year end match. All contributions will be matched up to $2K. All donors will receive two digital ebooks as our thank you gift.
Categories: Wild Horse Education