*live stream of meeting failed due to technical difficulties but the expert film crew had two cameras running for the entirety of the meeting and Horse Power hopes that it will be online this Friday (or Monday at the latest). We will let you know when it is up– you will be astounded by the absolute lack of accountability that the vast majority of the board shows not only to the wild horses and burros (no change there) but to the public – whom they are supposed to represent. People from age eight – 80 traveled from around the country, at least 15 states were represented.
BLM Director Bob Abbey was scheduled to speak but never showed up and was replaced in the schedule by Sylvia Baca of the DOI. I know of only two people from the advocate groups who have been able to get a word with Director Abbey, despite thousands and thousands and thousands of calls, letters, faxes and e-mails.
At these meetings there is never any discussion of how BLM might manage wild horses and burros in a responsible way that follows the wild horse and burro act of 1971 ( ie self-sustaining herds, least feasible management, recognition of the mustangs and burros rightful and protected place in the American west). Instead the board focused on how to get rid of horses. They discussed ways to contracept the mares: 3-year infertility drugs, lifelong contraceptive drugs and external-entry removal of mares’ ovaries (oophorectomy). For the stallions they suggested gelding and again, having entire gelding herds on the range. BLM sidestepped the question of projected removal numbers for the upcoming fiscal year (10/1/09- 9/30/09) but board member Robin Lohnes referenced numbers that 12,000 wild horses and burros will be removed in the next fiscal year. That is over 32 million dollars in roundup/processing costs and will take up nearly HALF of the BLM’s 2010 fiscal year budget. (it costs $2600/horse prepared for holding and well over $3000/horse who enters the adoption program – that would be $32,800,000 if 2000 horses (about 17% were adopted). The BLM wild horse budget is $68,000,000. So the BLM proposes killing horses in holding because they can’t afford to feed them – and we assume in part that this is an effort to get their budget increased-their program budget is doubled and then they spend all additional allocated monies on roundups. This is a cruel waste of equine lives and a misuse of taxpayer dollars.
BLM was given $1,000,000 for National Adoption Day but only 400 horses were adopted (the goal was $1000). 53 horses were adopted from the Pryors. 21 of those adoptions were directly because of the Cloud Foundation’s work. Can you imagine the possibilities of what all of us could do if we weren’t needing to spend all our time fighting to keep horses in the wild?
Later in the day the BLM called the Pryors Roundup “a model gather”. If this poorly done, non-transparent, cruel roundup that was done too early in the year and in which ten horses, age 11-21, were removed at a cost of $30,000 and foals were so sore they could barely walk and one mare tied up and another colicked and at least 4 horses on the mountain top (Cloud included are still lame) and decisions were made not in the best interest of a safe and effective roundup for the horses. And the Pryors is really the icing in terms of the roundup cake:1000 horses are to be removed from WY alone in October. The removal of the remaining 270 horses still left in the herd areas around Ely, Nevada is to begin Oct. 1. 650 horses zeroed out off of over 1.5 million acres. We’ve just found out that several adjacent herds that are not being zeroed out are having their ranges slashed by as much as 60,000 acres (the Pryor range where Cloud lives is only 39,000 acres to put that number in perspective).
There were 30 members of the public who spoke to the Board– 2 approved of the BLM’s actions, 28 vehemently opposed them. Our comments were mostly ignored by the majority of the board but did influence BLM Wild Horse and Burro Chief, Don Glenn, to address the public and told us that he heard very few recommendations, just ‘the same ‘ol thing’ – he discounted people who had driven all night to be there.
In response to Mr. Glenn one advocate from Texas wrote:
BLM and BLM Advisory Board: We only had 2 minutes to speak. So how were we expected to give our solutions? Give us more time in this conversation, question and answer and we will offer viable solutions. But don’t criticize us for repeating the same thing. You don’t hear us when we speak once- so we say it again. We expect you to respect us during these meetings as you expect us to respect you. If you wanted solutions/suggestions give us the time to give them. Give us a chance- we have plans for a solution to manage horses, not merely to exterminate them. We have spent our time, energy and our money- not just on your salaries but to do what you have not done adequately and to come here to tell you about it. We request an amount of time that will be sufficient for proper presentation of what we as the pubic of what we as the public believe to be more viable and more ethical solutions and management options for the American wild mustangs and burros.
A note: We apologize for not responding to blog posts – not enough minutes in the day. There are some excellent ideas and comments in response to all the recent news- please take action! The work and efforts need to be focused on government, media, and the caring but not well-informed public. I think it is easy to spend a bit too much time writing to one another when we really need to be reaching out, letting people know that:
a) have wild horses and burros on our western PUBLIC lands
b) they are being eradicated by the BLM and
c) we will lose them if we don’t act now.
If we can each inform a few more people each day we can better work to save our wild equids. Write letters to your editor- even if you aren’t conversant in the finer details you can still express your concern over this agency’s actions! Write op-eds! If the New York times got a thousand letters they might publish some and get a reporter on the subject. Thanks everyone for your incredible commitment to our mustangs and wild burros. Keep writing your senators too! Thank you!