Massive roundups, big cash handouts and a new way to slip wild horses to slaughter on the tax-payer dime. Public relations, lobbyists and big cash cows have begun a path to collapse for our wild horses. Deeply rooted in history, policy makers of today continue all the failures in management and increase the risk of slaughter.
In 1971 the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed into law. Wild horses were being brutally run down and captured through “mustanging” (illustrated by the movie the Misfits) and burros were primarily being shot and left to die.
The Act essentially did two things: establish federal jurisdiction and stop the slaughter. It passes both Houses of Congress without a single voice of opposition. Americans wanted wild horses and burros managed humanely and the foul practice of slaughter to end.
It is worth noting that in the 1970’s the US outlawed horse meat at grocery stores and in pet food after a failed attempt to market horse meat to Americans for the dinner table. Horses may be the most significant species to the history of man; partners in work and in war. Americans do not eat their horses. In fact, most Americans revile the thought.
Many people think the American disdain for horse meat stems from a romantic notion of the “cowboy and his horse.” It is the cowboy culture of the the livestock industry that engaged in mustanging; grind ’em up for chicken feed, fertilize and dog food. It is the cowboy culture of the livestock industry that has worked had to undermine the protections for wild horses in the 1971 Act.
After Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employees were caught pulling wild horses out of the foster program in 1998, and selling them into the slaughter pipeline (there was no title transfer of adoption/sale back then and the sales were illegal), the “cowboy culture” legislators went to work to make it legal.
In 2004 Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) introduced an amendment into the 2005 Omnibus spending bill, at the very last moment, that would make “sales without limits” legal. This bill was never introduced to Congress, never discussed or voted on. In fact most members of Congress did not know of its existence or insertion into this 3,000 page Omnibus Act. This bill amends Section 3 (16 USC §1331) of the original Act and changes the original law to allow sales to slaughter; 33 years of protection undone in one sneaky move.
Every year since the inclusion of that amendment Congress has prohibited any funding for sales without limits, but has never repealed the amendment. (For more on Burns, the SAFE Act and the budget debate go HERE)
In 2015 an organized effort by “big cash cows” began to craft a plan that would carve up the wild horse and burro program budget to suit the industries they represented. The plan became known as “Ten Years to AML.” Later, after public backlash, the name changed to the “Path Forward” (we assume to try to whitewash the plan and make it appear as if it is elated to the National Academy of Sciences document “A Way Forward”).
The document is a fast path to clear the pens to make room for an unprecedented removal of wild horses and burros from the range, create multiple subsidies to facilitate those removals and then a big order for one fertility control substance.
This plan has been moving forward since inclusion in the BLM report to Congress in 2018.
It is important to note that the plan is not a bill. This is not a bill that you can call Congress and say “I oppose the Path Forward.” This is a planning document that supposedly represents the public interest as stakeholders in the program. The inclusion of the document in the BLM report of 2018 cites it as such. Congress can approve and fund provisions of the “ask” from the lobby groups handpicked by BLM and some “cowboy culture legislators” that are the Conrad Burns of today (like Chris Stewart R-UT).
With your legislators you need to address each point in the plan as it pushes for funding. Saying “I oppose the Path Forward” won’t stop it. In fact, aspects of the plan are already running full steam.
The plan does not address any flaws in range management and none of the underlying deficits have been fixed. At ground zero in the fight, all that happens before on range management ends, not one flaw is addressed keeping the program fundamentally flawed in the foundation. (you can take action today to help us change that).
The most obvious indication that this select group of corporate lobbyists is pulling the strings on the BLM program is the roundup machine since. Nearly 7000 wild horses and burros are losing freedom from July 1-October 7; over 12,000 total for fiscal year 2020, with an increase of up to 20,000 planned for 2021.
An amendment is sitting in the 2021 budget bill to obligate the tax payer to foot an $11 million dollar bill for one specific fertility control substance. The public has confused the substance, PZP, with a method of application. PZP does not mean a dart gun instead of a helicopter. PZP is primarily part of a helicopter capture application (like you saw at Shawave where BLM applied GonaCon). The amendment would simply change the substance, not the method, without actual management planning that stipulates a method and requires retreating. Without a plan, it will just continue the status quo.
However, most people do not know that the Adoption Incentive Program (AIP) is also part of the “clear the pens” strategy to fulfill the wish list (the “plan”). The end of the line where “slip out to slaughter” has increased under this lobby group plan.
The Adoption Incentive Program (AIP) pays anyone that adopts a wild horse $1000. in two installments.
It was begun in March of 2019 and is part of the “plan” agreed to by big cash lobby groups. From the day it began we called it a slaughter subsidy and that is exactly what it has turned out to be.
BLM can never find funding for monitoring, range improvement for wild horses or more staffing. Yet they can always find more funding for those that want a horse slaughter perk. Think about a $1,000 perk for 3,000 wild horses (5,000 adopted will cost $5 million). BLM just pulled $3 million (or more) out of their strained budget. $3 million to address simple monitoring could go a long way to fixing the core issues like range monitoring, habitat preservation and stopping trespass domestic livestock. Instead they created another subsidy program.
As BLM touts a success of the program we are all monitoring the rapidly increasing number of newly titled BLM mustangs landing in kill pens within weeks of the title transfer and the second reward payment from BLM for helping “clear the pens” to accelerate the destruction of our herds at the behest of the livestock industry and their partners that place personal profit over the welfare of wild horses and do it all on the tax-payer dime.
From BLM: The Bureau of Land Management announced today that the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program launched in March 2019 contributed to a significant increase of animals placed into private care. In the first 12 months of the AIP, the agency adopted out 6,026 animals, compared with 3,158 during the previous full fiscal year. That increase of 91% revives and accelerates an upward trend of adoptions that began in 2015…. an increase in overall adoption numbers, the first year of the AIP also saw a sharp rise in the number of first-time and repeat adopters, as well as the number of individuals who adopted multiple animals. In all, there were 2,923 first-time adopters, 932 repeat adopters and 1,280 multiple-animal adoptions – all of which represent substantial increases over previous years.
BLM does not tell you how much the AIP costs. They do not tell you how many of them were sent to a slaughter auction. BLM does no follow-up. Yes, there has been an increase in those taking multiples, many people that have access to cheap pasture board. The vast majority of these wild horses were captured as babies and land in a kill lot fast; just what the slaughter buyer is looking for. You paid for it all.
How can you help stop this?
First and foremost you can call your legislators. The bill that will fund this mess has headed to the Senate. You can help us get this conversation out of the hands of the million dollar lobby groups that all sold the wild horses, and your voice, down the river.
To help get fiscally responsible management, first we need to address actual on-range management planning.
In addition, you can call you Senators and ask that the funding be prohibited for the BLM Adoption Incentive Program, that is increasing the occurrence of wild horses landing in slaughter auctions, in the fiscal 2021 budget bill (find your Senator here).
You can participate in the Advisory Board meeting coming up on Sept. 23-24. You can send written comments and/or sign up to speak. Written comments need to be in by Sept 9. More info here.
Be careful on social media. A lot of the organizations that have been part of pushing this agenda (openly and not as openly) spend a lot of money buying audiences. Before you share something, understand who wrote it and what they are actually asking you to do.
You can write an Op-Ed for you local paper. Many people are truly unaware of the dangers our wild hoses and burros are in. Some Americans still do not know they have public lands in the first place and are footing the bill to subsidize private profit lines.
Stay vigilant, stay strong.
We wont stop speaking out. We wont stop fighting back.
Categories: Wild Horse Education