Wild Horse Education

Budget Debate (by request)

This article is being written in response to questions we are receiving. As you read the article please recognize the distinctions in terms, processes, and that we are responding to multiple inquires, and trying to provide information for discussion. We know this is not a one paragraph response. We can not answer you, with respect, in one paragraph.

We took the grievances in your emails to us and crafted a fast letter you can send to your reps. This letter is what you have expressed to us.

Scroll to the red text near the bottom of this article for the fast letter based on your input to WHE. Or Send the fast click and send letter by  HERE. 

The budget (Appropriations) debate officially kicks off every year when the White House releases the proposed budget. Last week the WH launched their budget proposal to run all federal agencies and programs.

The WH budget requests an additional $35 million for the BLM wild horse and burro program. The additional funding includes more money to fund fertility control, public-private partnerships and money for roundups to get close to (or to) the set number of wild horses and burros the agency says the range can sustain (AML) prior to using fertility control.

Clarification of terms:

Fertility control includes: multiple vaccines and methods of application and sterilization. It is important to remember substances (PZP, GonaCon) are not methods of application and both are primarily used as part of helicopter capture. This administration has already stated that ovariectomy via colpotomy is not inline with their vision, but has left burning oviducts closed, gelding, vasectomies, on the table and it is in play in many active planning documents. 

Public-private partnerships include:  grant funding for private parties to do bait trapping and transport, training, holding and a few fertility control darting opportunities.

Next: The Bill is Written

After the WH releases a budget proposal it is sent to both houses of Congress. The subcommittees that cover each section in the budget then craft a bill. The House sub-committee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies will craft the first iteration of a bill that would include how money will be spent in the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program.

The House (usually) releases the first bill that will breakdown how much will be spent and on what. So if, as an example, you are happy with the additional funding and what it is designated for, but want want a specific amount for something you favor, you could ask the subcommittee to designate a specific amount. If you are unhappy with something you could ask that it be excluded from funding (ie, no funding to the Adoption Incentive Program that is landing wild horses in kill pens and no funding to be used to sell any wild horse or burro without limits.)

The draft bill will be crafted and then go through an amendment process, a full floor vote, pass to the Senate and the process repeats. Next, it goes to the President to sign. The Appropriations bill has to though the same steps as any other bill before it passes into law. There is still a long way to go.

WHE HEARS YOUR FRUSTRATION! 

The vast majority of your feedback express incredible frustration. The comments express you feel manipulated by double-speak, big lobbyists, government and corporate speak.

Our readers feel they have signed all the petitions (WHE does not do petitions) and sign on letters and nothing changes.

The comments interpret the WH budget as another step where they are ignored. Did you ask for fertility control? Did you ask for partnerships? Both of those are in this budget request. That is a change you may have asked for. (The deadline for grant funding was May 28. We do not yet know what the agency will fund, when these will start and if funding will continue annually. We expect much of this debate to be hashed out in the bill.)

ATV used to rope a horse

Wild horses and burros are a multi-layered public lands conversation. Each aspect of the program must be addressed distinctly in the channel provided for reform of the issue at hand.  

SIMPLE Example: A picture of a horse crashing through barbed wire with a caption “Stop Abuse,” and a petition that simply asks you to support fertility control, is off-point in law and practice. Fertility control vaccines are primarily applied via helicopter capture, after the herd numbers are at or near AML, and the vast majority of our herds will continue to have application via helicopter capture (that will need to be done annually or within 4 years of each application, depending on the substance used). “Stopping abuse” requires work to improve a policy our litigation drove the creation of.

More litigation and revision to the policy is likely needed. Litigation to stop abuse is intense, fast and expensive. We have laid a frame and made requests for specific revision, as a first step. That frame can move back into litigation if “phase 1” fails.

The law is clear against abuse. WHE won every case, before and after the creation of CAWP. CAWP is already part of operating procedures and humane is already mandated by Congress. The process of “change” against abusive practices is not the same process as grant money for darting a few herds.

The baseline for this budget was provided in the BLM through the Report of 2020. That report incorporates the “Path Forward” (that began in 2016) lobby document many of you have expressed outrage over, but may have inadvertently supported the last few years by only asking for an unspecified “fertility control.” (Chris Stewart, R-UT, announced this agreement in 2019 and he sits on the subcommittee that will draft the initial bill.)

That is why WHE has been running a campaign to ask that the BLM 2020 Report be rejected prior to a new budget debate. You can still help us tank that report and gain a hearing. 

Many of you did take the action WHE has and we have gotten feedback. We have some important meetings scheduled this summer. However, we are not a million dollar org and our meetings are scheduled much later than others.

What is it that you want?

When it comes to the spending bill most of you want the Adoption Incentive Program defunded, a continued ban on sales without limits (slaughter), more fertility control darting (different than saying “more fertility control”).

After reading your letters we can see that your greatest grievance is that you have no voice in actual management. That is not just a soundbite, it is born out in the way BLM does their paperwork. If you want a voice in actual management, and the tools BLM approves to use on each herd, what you are asking for is the Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP). The agency skips this important step in planning and masquerades removal/fertility control plans as management. Removal plans comply with “management plans” for all the mining, livestock, sage grouse, etc that exist in an HMA. But there are no management plans for wild horses that the others must tier to.  “Scapegoating” is real and the process is set up to have it continue.

Many of you have an issue with the lack of transparency. You can ask that funding be provided for the agency to post all records digitally (online) pertaining to the program: field surveys, flight reports, capture and holding facilities, including all intake and veterinary reports.

Range improvements are done all the time for livestock. There is no reason you can not ask for designated funding to create and repair water sources for wildlife/wild horses and burro.

We have taken the things you have expressed to us and created an action item to reflect the frustrations you conveyed to us: 

Contact Your Two Senators and One Representative Today

1. Call the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative. You can say:

“I’m a constituent, and I’m calling to ask that you please do all you can to influence changes to the Department of Interior Spending bill for the Wild Horse and Burro Program. 

  • Designate $5 million for water source creation and repair in HMAs.
  • Defund removal plans where the BLM has skirted the NEPA process and failed to create a management plan for the herd, an HMAP.
  • Designate specific funds to provide for an open online portal where the public can access range monitoring, roundup veterinary reports, shipping manifests and death statistics.
  • Defund the Adoption Incentive Program pending a review.

2. Send this fast click and send letter by clicking HERE. 


We hope this article helped answer some of your questions and gave you a format to take action to get what you are actually asking for. 


Can you help us continue to fight back? 

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Categories: Wild Horse Education