Wild Horse Education

Hearing Update

This article is an updated version of the action we asked you to begin last February; push for a real hearing into The BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program to address the underlying corruption that continues to derail any attempt at actual management.

You have been asking if there will be a hearing on wild horses and burros.

We have gotten word that it is very likely we will see some type of Congressional hearing into the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program in 2022. We may also see the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) commissioned to do another review; the last review was completed in 2013. The NAS is commissioned by BLM, at taxpayer expense, to review the program every 10-15 years. Even though the NAS essentially repeats basically “no data to support decision making” and “no real planning” since 1988, these “studies” appear to be used to kick the can down the road, not to take to heart. 

A “hearing” is only as effective as what Congress “hears” and from whom.  We must delve into the corruption the program sits on, or the same corrupt hands will continue to drive the program and the past repeats.

We continue to INVITE you to read the following action item and, if you agree with what we are asking for, send it to your representatives. We are asking that a real hearing, not one stacked with those that participated in “Ten Years to AML.”Always read the actual action item you are signing. Many “sign-on letters” use lead in lines that mislead you on what you are actually sending. 

The letter is a simple click and send.  You can participate in the push to gain a hearing in Congress CLICK HERE.

After you send your letter, call your representatives. 

Pigeon fever in holding, 2021. Sick young colt in the stud pen trying to hold his own and survive disease.

Until we begin to address the flagrant and intentional minimization of the wild horse/burro as a public resource to suit industry, nothing will change. Industry will accept any form of population growth suppression (removal, fertility control, slaughter), but they will not accept any attempt to manage wild horses as a living species. BLM won’t even accept terminology for management of a living creature like “preserving critical habitat” when addressing wild horses/burros. Using terms like “critical habitat” would impede industrial use.

Cow pasture in the foreground, mining tailings in the far ground, trap stuck in the mid-ground. This photo is almost an analogy for the entire program.

Will any new hearing be hijacked by the “Path Forward” participants as it was before? Those who only want to solidify the nonsense of the so-called “Appropriate Management Level (AML),” the absurdly low number of wild horses and burros allowed to live free and wild? (you can read the original “Ten Years to AML” HERE, later renamed “Path Forward”).

It is highly probable that any new hearing will again be populated with the same big-dollar faces as the last hearing. Many of them claim to be on-ground, involved in fights they never participated in but observed from afar, and will again mislead Congress that fertility control diminishes need for roundups. In fact, in some areas it increases the “chopper in the air” to capture simply to retreat wild horses with a substance. (Owyhee is an example of an operation to “maintain AML and increase immunocontraception.” At Owyhee 2021, 27 wild horses died.)

Is simply increasing population growth suppression actually a compromise? Wouldn’t a compromise include getting something back? Mandatory fence removals, designation of habitat critical for herd survival inside HMAs where industry is forbidden, no new mining in HMAs, no new roads, reduction of livestock, something? What we have is just a way for industrial interests to continue to expand business as usual as wild horse populations are driven to the lowest levels in decades.

Since that hearing, BLM incorporated the “Path Forward” into the 2020 plan. Congress increased funding. In 2021, we saw additional funding proposed for “grants” to fund capture, fertility control. (We wanted to do water and range improvements and were told they were only accepting proposals for capture, fertility control and “adoptions.”)

We have just witnessed a year (2021) that includes the largest number of wild horses/burros captured since the 1971 Act was passed. This was done following the 2020 plan to maintain AML and increase fertility control. Places like Surprise, that have not been captured in a decade, were also on the list to “maintain AML and increase immunocontraception;” 21 died at Surprise.

Electric shock used to speed up loading. Wild horses do not like the cattle chute with overhead bars used by this contractor (not an equine chute). Instead of BLM requiring this contractor use equipment designed for equines, wild horses face the “hot shot.”

While fertility control may be a valid tool of management, only after it is actually justified by range data evaluated in as a Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP), fertility control is not management.

Skipping a Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) and jumping right to a “gather plan” is gutting the public out of any conversation on actual management. Wild horses are simply removed to an AML that serves profit-driven interests that BLM kowtows to, not on wild horse management planning.

The following is from the article we published at the beginning of this legislative session to explain why we are asking you to ask for a hearing. This information can also aide you as you address your legislators. PLEASE remember asking for “more immunocontraception” first (or only) might be an easy thing to do, but it solidifies the notion in the minds of your reps that “overpopulation” is the problem. Doing that? buys you another year just like 2021. We will also see an acceleration of everything you have seen in 2021, in 2022. Congress is set to throw additional funding into the “2020 plan” to increase, essentially, what you have just seen at Owyhee, for the 2022 budget. The 2023 budget debate begins in about 45 days. 

The following article explains why we are asking you to take the action asking for a hearing and the type of hearing we want you to ask for. Info taken from an article published with the original alert. 

Wild horses are a multifaceted public lands resource, creating the necessity for a multifaceted approach to advocating for them. 

When dealing with legislators (when you call or write a letter) and asking for them to vote on a bill, like it or not, you have entered the ring of politics. Just like commenting on an Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposed roundup, you need to know the terrain and be specific in the words you choose.

click to download pdf

A good place to start educating your legislators (for the next budget debate beginning in January) is the “BLM Report to Congress from 2020.” (If you have not read that report you can see it here.)

In 2018 Congress rejected what BLM had presented and requested a new report. push back as the 2018 report. Many urged Congress to obligate the taxpayer to buy a single substance (PZP) and were very effective at getting the public to push only for that. In 2020 Congress gave BLM a bit over 15 million  in additional funds to implement “non-lethal” population growth suppression tools in 2021. In 2021 they have added another $11 million.

The 2020 report (plan) looms large in the budget debate today. The debate has essentially ended for 2022. The 2023 debate begins January 2022.  (please remember the federal government works on a fiscal year that begins in Oct; fiscal 2022 begins Oct 2021).

Page 1-8 of the “BLM 2020 plan” is essentially a press release that repeats the copy/paste of their interpretation of their authority, a copy/paste of the beginning of almost every roundup that repeats assertions of range data and incorporates the “Ten Years to AML” backdoor deal with large corporate interests that was run, without public input or scrutiny, since 2015.

Not until we get to page 9 does BLM state their funding priorities::

    1. Removals (2.5 pages)
    2. Population Growth Suppression, including sterilization (3 pages)
    3. Private Care Placement, the new name for adoption/sale (2 pages)
    4. Euthanasia (1 sentence)
    5. Sale Without Limits, slaughter (1 sentence)
    6. Off-Range Corrals, or Long-Term Holding (4 pages)
    7. Resource Monitoring (1/2 page)
    8. Population Survey (1/2 page)
    9. Herd Management Area Plan Development (1/2 page)
    10. Research (1/2 page)
    11. Rangeland Restoration and Rehabilitation (1/2 page)
    12. Oversight (2 sentences)

Then, on page 24, we are presented with a couple of paragraphs in a “Conclusory” statement that continues to present photos without context. If you had the context of every single picture BLM uses in this report you would see the failures run deep in field offices that have used “blame the horse and remove” for 50 years.

When you get push back talking to you representatives aides? we suggest you bring up the report. entire program-wide workings. 16 pages is what
this administration is continuing to base “management” practices on, written by multi-million-dollar corporate lobbyists in an “agreement.”

However, without even reading any of the content you can see why the program has failed. Roundups, and population growth suppression, are the last phase of on-range management yet, BLM always prioritizes remove and stockpile.  Management planning and oversight for our herds should come first. Management planning creates the baseline for all other actions, oversight of planning and execution, to make sure that the agency operates with transparency and inclusivity.

Simply changing the order of current priorities to make Oversight and HMAPs the first step, the program could begin to move out of the mistakes of the past that have led to an absurd program that wastes taxpayers’ funds and is morally bankrupting public interests and resource wild horses. Wild horses are not permitted for use for private profit.

As a result of this report, and those “in the deal” for 2021 spending, Congress simply awarded BLM an additional $15 million to utilize “non-lethal” population growth suppression.Video we did to help you understand a bit about why the HMAP sitting at the bottom of the current priority list, is absurd. Without a plan, the rest is based on assertion, highly corruptible and bound to fail. (more here) 

Video we did to help you understand a bit about why the HMAP, at the bottom of the current priority list, sabotages the public interest and wild horses. Without plans, the rest is baseless, highly corruptible and doomed to fail.

There was no hearing on the merits of the report, nothing. We did not have a hearing because the big corporate groups had the public bombarding Congress as they simply asked for more funding for fertility control. All of he funding was based on the assertions in the 2020 report and those assertions solidified as the focus became “population suppression tools.”

The debate for spending in 2022 has already kicked off. That debate leaves off where the last one stood; all of it begins with accepting the assertions and lack of actual data in the 2020 report. 

When the Department of Interior handed Congress a report on two National Monuments in New Mexico, Senator Martin Heinrich grilled BLM on that report.

The report was not about the entire National Monument system, as the report on wild horses and burros is. The report on wild horses is not about a couple of HMAs, it is about the entire program. 

John Ruhs, former NV State Director now serving as the Deputy Director of BLM, says he was not involved with crafting the report on the two monuments when pressed by Senator Heinrich.

However, Ruhs was deeply involved with the “Ten Years to AML” crowd, the off-limits to the public “Utah Summit” and both the 2018 and 2020 reports on the Wild Horse and Burro Program.

When Ruhs was quickly whisked out of the Deputy chair after this hearing, and sent to be the Director of BLM in Idaho, former Chief of Chris Stewart, Brian Steed, took his place. Stewarts office ran the “Ten Years to AML” (later called Path Forward) backdoor corporate deal with Steed as his Chief of Staff.

Wild horses are tied DIRECTLY to the National Monument Agenda. In fact, they appear first on the “wish list” of those pushing the agenda. (you can read the timeline of the context of the above schedule memo in an article we wrote in 2019, HERE.)

Why didn’t anyone in Congress grill BLM over their report on wild horses? The factual errors are just as egregious as those in the report on the two National Monuments. The public deserves more from Congress than simply bending to the will of well-funded corporate lobbyists that all benefit from the subsidized programs created by the agency.

We INVITE you to read the following action item and, if you agree with what we are asking for, send it to your representatives. We are asking that a real hearing take place, not one stacked with those that participated in “Ten Years to AML.”

The letter is a simple click and send.  You can participate, CLICK HERE.

After sending your letter, we urge you to call your Congressional representative HERE.

We need real change. We cannot get real change if we base it in fiction or simply create change to suit what industry will accept. This is not management; it is politics. Politics are destroying the range and your wild
horse and burro herds.


Help keep us in the field, in the courts and in the fight. Our teams need your support. 


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Categories: Wild Horse Education