Wild Horse Education

Appropriations (2022 and beginning the 2023 discussion)

From the Inbox: “What is happening with roundups, Appropriations and the policy that lets BLM kill healthy horses with a captive bolt gun?”

A fast article to try to answer your questions and an action item (scroll to bold red text).

Advocates are watching the end of the fiscal year 2021 budget being poured into the “roundup machine.” About 8000* wild horses and burros were authorized for capture using 2021 funds in the last 60 days of the active spending period. *Number obtained simply by adding the columns authorized for capture beginning July 27-Sept 27 in the schedule online. FY21 Proposed Wild Horse and Burro Gather and Fertility Control Schedule

The fiscal year 2022 roundup schedule begins in October. Funding in the 2022 determines what the agency can fund. We are hearing talk about big roundups beginning in October like over 2000 out of Owyhee (NV), Twin Peaks (CA) and a massive removal from the checkerboard in Wyoming of over 3000. None of these operations have been confirmed and roundups in October are a “moving target” based on the budget passing or going into a “resolution” that would maintain existing funding levels.

We mention roundups because this is one of the most visible parts of how BLM spends their money and rumors abound about where roundups will be in October. We really do not know yet.

Waiting for cows to move off of water source. Cows campout and wild horses will often have to make a fast dash to grab a drink.

What we do know:

  • Roundups are awaiting in the wings, continued acceleration is just waiting for funding as the agency continues the “2020 plan” (the public often references as “Path Forward”).
  • BLM is looking at approving expensive new private intake facilities that will have doors locked to public scrutiny.
  • Both the Adoption Incentive Program (AIP) and the BLM sale program continue to present serious dangers to our wild ones that continue to enter the slaughter pipeline.
  • The euthanasia policy is overly vague leaving interpretation of justifications to kill a horse (signs of aging, personality not appropriate for captivity, etc.) to far too many people in an agency that repeatedly violates public trust. The methods to kill a horse even include the captive bolt (slaughterhouse method).

Issues of flaws in a severe lack of actual data and management planning continue to exist in the program and, in fact, throughout the agency.

Wild Horse and Burro Management.—The Committee recommends $162,093,000 which supports implementation of the May 2020 plan and includes $11,000,000 for administration of and research on reversible immunocontraceptive fertility control; and $504,000 to transition to a zero emission fleet.

There are 3 branches of government. Three distinct avenues we can all work for change. Often, a specific issue can be addressed through more than one channel.

The Appropriations process (funding debate) is still active for 2022 spending. The debate for the 2023 budget will go into full swing by February 2022.

The House has crafted their recommendations for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program. The Senate has not provided any real insight where we can determine if they will change what they have received from the House, or just let the version move forward.

The House language includes the following:

  • The Committee directs the Secretary to establish a task force to bring experts from all Interior bureaus together to address the challenge of wild horses and burros.
  • The Bureau of Land Management is directed to use $11,000,000 of the funds appropriated for this program to enter cooperative efforts with other Federal partners to significantly progress the administration of and research on reversible immunocontraceptive fertility control. This should include public-private partnerships and simultaneous evaluation of multiple fertility control alternatives at a meaningful scale. (in layman terms, the grant program where applications needed to be submitted by March 2021)
  • To tackle this challenge, the Bureau needs to focus on achieving a sustainable Appropriate Management Level while ensuring that all removals are conducted in strict compliance with the Bureau’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program and any population growth suppression strategies must be proven, safe, and humane. 

Basically, the above is the “Path Forward” in a nutshell. The “committee” will continue to contain the same well-funded elites that the Path Forward group provided the agency.

The language also continues to state: The strategy will not include any sale or actions that result in the destruction of healthy animals, which continues to be prohibited by this bill.

This language has proven inadequate when the agency crafts an overly-broad “Guidance for Euthanasia” that basically allows horses that would be considered healthy in your barn to be killed by the agency that simply creates their own definition of a “healthy horse.”

This may be something that can still be addressed in the 2022 spending bill. More on that further down the page, with an action item.

To wrap up House language:

  • The Bureau is also directed to protect against any violation of the law. Specifically, the Bureau is to review its Adoption Incentive program and work with the Office of the Solicitor to strengthen contractual language and address any weakness in the program that would jeopardize the welfare of these animals
  • The Bureau is directed to provide quarterly updates to the Committee on the allocation of resources, achievement of performance metrics, input from the Departmental task force, efficacy of identifying and relocating horses to different Herd Management Areas, and to discuss any proposed changes to the current course of action.

The two statements above are actually rather meaningless when you understand how the agency really works. The House does not mean “stop violating the law,” they only mean create language for the AIP that mirrors the sale program (just add won’t send to slaughter” to the paper people sign but then we won’t give you any money to actually hire people to track where the horses go.)

The “quarterly report” is rather absurd when BLM was almost a year late on a single program report and then provided Congress with less than a junior high school term paper (32 pages). Congress accepted the data-poor report and awarded the program over $20 million additional tax-payer dollars last year.

We have been pushing for a hearing into the program based on the inept and fallacious report. (HERE)

Waters for wild horses are turned off, dismantled, never replaced.

The 2022 budget debate is nearing an end.

At this time we may be able to address some of the language in the Guidance for Euthanasia that would allow healthy wild horses that are aging, or have a physical limitation that does not constitute a “lack of health” (i.e. club foot, no sight in a single eye, simple signs of getting old) does not actually comply with the intention of language Congress has provided, but the language from Congress is also overly vague.

However, you can still reach out to your Senator and see if they can add a further restriction to the “no funds to destroy healthy horses,” language.

Say: The current budget language for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program reads: “The strategy will not include any sale or actions that result in the destruction of healthy animals, which continues to be prohibited by this bill.”

Please propose an amendment to the language to add guidance to  Appropriation spending; “A healthy wild horse is one that can continue to live without extensive veterinary intervention.”

You can find your Senator here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm

Or use this fast “click and send” option. Click HERE

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Categories: Wild Horse Education