Yes, there is a lot going on right now.
This piece is intended to help you keep it all on your radar as you juggle your own advocacy and, hopefully, answer a lot of the questions in our inbox.
Save America’s Forgotten Equines Act of 2021 or the SAFE Act of 2021
The SAFE Act is a bill that would end transport to slaughter for commercial sale for both domestic and wild horses and burros. There was a subcommittee hearing on May 26, to determine if the bill will be approved by the subcommittee and released. The markup hearing is June 23 at 7:30 am pacific time. The sub-committee voted to move the SAFE Act to full committee.
As of right now, the bill has 218 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle in the House. The bill has yet to move through the Senate. Both House and Senate need to pass the bill for it to move for signature from the President.
You can track the bill HERE.
The Appropriations (spending bill) process can be one of the most confusing for wild horse and burro advocacy to follow. Appropriations is a bill, much like any other. However, this bill has a yearly deadline as the fiscal year closes October 1. If the bill is not passed in full then funding of the federal government is made in a process referenced as a “Continuing Resolution” to avoid a shutdown.
Just like other bills you have subcommittees, committees, a full floor vote, as well as that same process in both House and Senate. If the versions do not match there is another committee that works to negotiate to obtain matching versions. Then the President needs to sign it for it to become law and release the funds to the various agencies, etc.
We are tracking the budget for you since the White House request dropped. As of today, the committees in the House have consolidated (put together all the different bills covering all the branches of government) a bill that will go to the House floor for a vote. The process will repeat in the Senate. (WHE budget bill track page HERE)
Legal actions can take time, unfortunately. Litigation beyond stopping an immediate harm (like our litigation that shutdown roundup operations to gain the beginning of a humane policy and create internal review teams; you can now access info on the BLM website as we all continue the work to stop abuses) can take months to years to make it through the court system.
We have active actions in multiple states involving removals, sterilization, etc. We have active action against livestock permitting. We try to keep our litigation page updated as time allows including status. (HERE)
This week we added Jackson Mountain to our growing list of active cases. (HERE)
Most Americans think of a helicopter drive when they think “roundup.” Bait trapping is another method used by federal agencies to capture wild horses and burros and can occur all year.
But “roundup season,” the time when the vast majority of wild horses are captured begins July 1. The BLM has a published schedule online. The most recent revised version was published June 14, and targets over 8000 for permanent removal through the end of the fiscal year. (HERE)
We need to remind you that the schedule can change very rapidly and does not include any operation the agency feels are emergency removal. If they add any emergency to the schedule dates of operations listed could be changed or removed.
Roundups that would occur after October would be funded through the spending bill now sitting in Congress and are not listed yet.
Helicopter capture of wild horses can legally occur from July 1 through the last day of February. BLM considers this foaling season west wide (instead of addressing that prohibited season on an HMA-by-HMA basis as planning in the HMAP process is most often skipped. The HMAP is a focal point of a few of our cases including one at Pancake).
HMAP is Herd Management Area Plan. HMA is Herd Management Area. The priority in the fight for wild horses and burros is protecting the areas BLM has relegated they are still allowed to live. Otherwise, their areas will continue to shrink and roundups and removals continue and even increase. The means to secure those areas for the wild herds and the other animals that live there is HMAPs in all the areas to plan for the animals’ survival in the wild, not to only plan for their removal as BLM is doing now.
BLM does not determine a foaling season for burros and allows helicopter capture at any time of year.
Members of Congress are currently moving two separate hearings on the BLM program: one as part of Dina Titus (D-NV) bill HR 6635 and one spurred by the deaths in holding facilities. We do not know at this time if these issues will combine and expand into a programmatic hearing.
You can learn more about the Titus bill to stop the helicopters, as well as take action, HERE.
You can read the May 5th letter from members of Congress asking for an investigation into holding HERE
A plea for an oversight hearing was sent June 17th to the ranking member and Chair of the committee by 7 members of Congress. You can read the letter HERE.
There is more going on with active EAs and scoping open on several projects that will impact HMAs. We will work on an update on that front for you soon.
EA: Environmental Assessment. An EA is one of the documents that may required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to analyze and determine agency actions for livestock, fencing, wild horse removals, etc.
We hope this overview helps answer some of your questions.
Our teams are working hard to protect and preserve our wild ones.
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Categories: Wild Horse Education
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