Fighting Abuse (Can You help?)

We need your help to address abuse at roundups.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is in the process of finalizing roundup contracts. The name change to “Catch/Treat/Release Contract” is simply a name change to make the status quo sound like reform. Minor changes have been made to the solicitation that require contractors to “hold onsite” the wild horses or burros chosen for release after capture operations of the herds complete and the rest are shipped to processing facilities.

BLM has been choosing GonaCon (a hormonal fertility control treatment) as their preferred fertility control of choice in a two-dose regime that require a second dose after about 30 days from the first. There have been issues for the agency in gaining cooperation with contractors to provide housing and equipment for that second dose. It has now been clearly stated in the contract solicitation.

BLM also made changes to the access policy (that are not in the policy provided to the public) making sure contractors have reassurance that they will have a larger say in what/where/how the public can observe. BLM has had a lot of trouble with certain contractors that do not want the public to see any handling at temporary holding corrals, catch pens, loading, etc. The public has had no input on these changes, but we can see the contractor input clearly (nothing to do with safety, just capitulation).

At the same time the agency has been excluding stakeholders in meetings (like WHE) as they discuss policy changes, programs, contracts and agreements to do things like monitor or dart wild horses and burros. BLM does not do open project-by-project solicitations for wild horses, they decide who/what/where behind the scenes and the public does not even know what is even open for any cooperative project.  Heck, the selective discussions have gone so far as to include selective notifications of when wild horses will be returned to the range.

WHE made multiple requests to meet with Debra Haaland, beginning just after she was appointed Secretary of Interior. At first we were scheduled and then dropped. The same occurred with BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. Both of these individuals have met with other wild horse orgs, other public lands orgs and, many times, with livestock and mining interests.

In 2020, when BLM first hired their CAWP team lead, we had a brief meeting with that lead and the wild horses and burro program lead, Holly Waddell. However, there has been no follow-up and WHE have gotten no reply to our request to address out findings in our report released in October. Our report clearly outlines issues with the policy, implementation of the policy, no accountability to the policy and recommends specific changes.

We are doing all we can. It is clear that we may need to take this back to court if no changes, attempts to actually change (not just market to media they “care”).

It is clear BLM has a “preferred partner list” and it appears that organizations that have the audacity to litigate against BLM on-range practices, failures to address appropriate planning and ongoing humane care issues, are not on that list. (It traces back to 2017 and the split brought about by “Path Forward” and partnerships created at that time.) This game is not inline with law, moral and ethical responsible management. Livestock permittees litigate permits all the time and somehow manage to keep permits and a preferential status?

Those of us at WHE know that no kind of fertility control will actually addresses on-range issues (loss of habitat, waters, etc.), appropriate planning and ongoing humane care issues. Fertility control is simply a distinct change in population growth suppression tailored to maintain the status quo in the previously mentioned subjects. Wild horses and burros are a public lands resource; this requires engagement at multiple levels and there is absolutely no single change that can fix the system.

The issue of humane handling will remain an issue unless the policy is directly addressed. WHE has been at the forefront of the battle against abuse for a long time; our fight began. before a policy even existed and drove the creation of that policy. The real fight has never made a claim that fertility control stops abuse, roundups, etc. The fight against abuse on-range, during capture, in holding, is a distinct fight against abuse. Abusive practices on range are increasing (even as fertility control. increases and has created new issues). Abuse in planning where waters are cut off, grazing ranges are cut off, mining expands, livestock expands, will continue. Roundups will continue through the use of helicopters and bait trapping.

Abuse is already against the law. If it wasn’t we would not have won in court. BLM is already mandated to manage humanely; no new law is needed, abuse is not “ok.”

We need your help in this era of competitive businesses, running big public affairs campaigns, to get the fight back into the fight. 

We are sending another request this week to BLM to meet to address ongoing abuse and the lack of transparency.

You can join us and ask that BLM schedule that meeting now, before finalizing another roundup schedule to suit everyone but the public interest and the public resource (wild horses and burros.)

You can sign onto this simple request:

I, the undersigned, request that you meet with Wild Horse Education (WHE) representatives and address the critical flaws in the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Policy (CAWP), immediately. 
WHE has the largest ongoing bank of documentation and data on BLM wild horse and burro roundups in the world. Their documentation is not used for advertising, it has been used in federal court to address the lack of policy, push to create policy and now needs to be applied to improving the policy. 
As a member of the public with an abiding interest in wild horses and burros and their welfare, I implore you to reply to WHE’s request for a meeting before finalizing another roundup schedule. 

Above: On the last day of Triple B, 2022, we were able to watch loading during the last day when there was no capture. It was clear that they did not think we could see the electric prod being used for their convenience. Was this how loading was done throughout the entire operation? Probably.

Below: Buffalo Hills, 2022

These are just 2 instances noted in the report WHE sent to BLM and published online for you to see.

This has to stop. 

Help keep us in the fight.
From now until Nov. 30th, contributions to WHE will be matched for “Giving Tuesday” up to $5,000. to keep our teams running to expose issues and then to fight back for needed changes.
On Giving Tuesday, November 29th, our teams will be involved in a Protest Resolution conference for the “checkerboard” herds in Wyoming BLM plans to gut or zero out. We will update you as soon as time allows.

Categories: Lead