This Labor Day weekend we take a moment to say “thank you” to all in the Labor movement that struggled (and still struggle) to protect workers from being exploited by employers. Child labor, unsafe working conditions, 14-hour work days (in a 7 day workweek) are some of the things early advocates in the movement targeted. The movement is still working hard today to stop the gutting of many pf the protections afforded to laborers by early pioneers and to break ground on new protections in a technological age. We hope you take time this weekend to reflect on the advocacy of the Labor movement as you enjoy a long weekend dedicated to the movement and the laborer.
At Wild Horse Education we engage in advocacy for our wild. ones. That advocacy has many layers: on-range (protecting the land they stand), working to stop abuses during capture and in holding, promoting safe placement, working to expose the dangers of the sales and adoption programs that lead to the slaughter pipeline. Each layer involves engagement in policy and law; lawmakers and the courts are needed just as they are to create any progress through “advocacy for change.”
A labor of love can often leave you pleading with the public and lawmakers to hear your case. Our wild ones and wild places need you to join us for a minute on the soapbox.
Our work is a labor of love. We are a specialized organization formed to educate the public, media and lawmakers (and the courts when needed) for the preservation and protection of our wild horses. It’s not easy work and is born out of a deep love for the wild. A wild species often obfuscated in a tangled web of public lands law and a media still bent on treating them as melded into a domestic animal story… that our opponents exploit again and again.
Wild horses are integral to the modern system of public lands. Today, our teams are out scouting areas where large roundups have taken place to make room for private industry. In places we once saw pronghorn following wild horses to find water, after new livestock grazing schemes turned off waters to “rest” land from livestock use (the cows are off, so you punish wild species?). Not only are the horses gone, the herds of pronghorn are, the sage grouse are gone, the deer are few and far between. In some places even the birds of prey have left. Wild horses were blamed for the damage as industry expanded. Wild horses were removed. The industry continued to expand and the “wild things” left.
Many of these removal are based on big national level agreements made in the 70s and 80s, that were reaffirmed in the 2020 plan (Path Forward deal). No matter how much BLM tried to claim they are based on site-specific decisions; those decisions are driven by national memo that continues to ignore new technology and scientific reasoning… we only see land use planning reflect “junk science” schemes to increase livestock and approve new methods to tear up the land and draw down water tables for extraction on energy projects. The wild is in the way of “the deal.”
Most people are aware that there are new deals pouring funding into things like “climate change.” The average person would make an assumption that taxpayer funding is going to restore our wild places. The funding for carbon capture is being used for geological carbon sequestration, not biological sequestration. Geologic carbon sequestration is the process of storing carbon dioxide (CO2) in underground geologic formations. The CO2 is usually pressurized until it becomes a liquid, and then it is injected into porous rock formations in geologic basins. Biologic carbon sequestration refers to storage of atmospheric carbon in vegetation, soils, woody products, and aquatic environments.
In other words, industries like big oil are ready to jump on the billions of taxpayer dollars to pump carbon below ground; the funding is not going to “rewild” our public lands to help climate change… we need to heal the landscape.
Removals of wild horses and burros have hit the highest levels since the 1971 Act was passed; the aim to get wild horses and burros back to the levels Congress found “fast disappearing.” Any other species would have had a recovery level set of at least 4 times the number that spurred legislation as an emergency measure to protect them; but not for a species that generates public attention to the big political deals in DC or at the local levels.
For over 50 years the scapegoat tactic has worked to satisfy politics and pressure from buddies and bullies. Scapegoating wild horses and burros just doesn’t work anymore.
The industry capture of land management agencies and our public lands has led to a time of critical decline in the wild.
It is time to stop scapegoating wild horses and burros that actually regenerate the landscape, Wild horses are re-seeders of grasses due to the unique nature of digestion. Wild horses and burros help find and open water sources other species benefit from. Wild horses are a reintroduced native to the North American continent that may never have gone extinct. They are integral to a functioning system that now finds itself in collapse due to constant and consistent exploitation.
The consequence for wild horses and burros is immense. Pushed down to the lowest levels since the Act passed on public lands by stamping old data with a new date, their survival in a rapidly disappearing wild places is uncertain. Overcrowding of holding facilities is leading to disease and an increasing lack of transparency. An increase in schemes to empty the pens through sales and adoption include very little oversight landing increasing numbers of old and young wild horses into the slaughter pipeline. To make room for the next round of accelerated removals there is even discussion again about when to begin euthanizing “unadoptable” wild horses to make room for more (the new euthanasia policy was recently noted in a report on a holding facility that questioned why a group of wild horses had not been killed yet due to low body score at the same time that they note that not all horses had access to feed).
The root cause of the collapse of the Wild Horse and Burro program lies in on-range neglect. One simple example is the current draft ten-year plan for removal of wild horses in the Roberts Mountain complex (you can take action by clicking the linked text). The underlying land use plan is 40 years old, the agency knows the boundary lines were drawn wrong, the number of horses the agency says can be on the range is wrong due to the boundaries and decades of ignoring etc.
By the time the proposed ten-year plan would expire, the underlying planning would have collected half a century of dust. When this Land Use Plan (LUP) was signed: George Bush had just become President, Ted Bundy was just executed, the Space Shuttle Discovery was still flying, the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in Alaska, Nintendo just released the “Game Boy,” Walt Disney World just opened, and Rain Man won 4 Academy Awards.
To say this land use plan is dated is an understatement. Yet, it still drives wild horse removals on your public lands, prioritizes outdated and destructive industries, and serves as a clear reminder that the wild horse and burro program has still not updated to “color-tv” technology.
How do you drag a program out of a place it created for political convenience? How do you drag an outdated system out of the past and into the future? How do you stop the cruelty and minimization? How do you stop the damage and demonstrate that the things that are being removed are part of the system of natural things we need to stop the race toward climate collapse?
Through the labor of love.
We wish you all a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.
Legal Battle at Blue Wing Expanded, update coming soon
Can you help keep us in the fight?
Categories: Wild Horse Education