December 18, 2:31 PMLA Equine Policy ExaminerCarrol Abel
Was last years Bureau of Land Management announcement of plans to euthanize 33,000 wild horses a prelude to the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program’s swan song? A clamor of voices rapidly growing in number has brought the wild horse and burro program under the spotlight of mainstream press. Conducting business as usual is no longer acceptable to the American public.
The BLM has been operating the program with an omnipotent mind set for so many years they can’t seem to function otherwise. Evidence that detail of program policies will not hold up under scrutiny is popping up from all directions. Can it stand the final test of President Obama’s promise of transparency in government.
There seems to be little connection between the left and right hands of upper management. Don Glenn, head of the national WH&B program, stated to this examiner, “Wild horses are not starving. The press repeatedly gets that wrong. We don’t know of any that are starving right now. The range is in good condition.” Apparently, Glenn did not communicate that to his boss, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“One of the first things he said was something must be done because the horses are starving.” said singer Sheryl Crow of her conversation with Salazar in a recent interview with AP reporter Martin Griffith.
The Surprise Field Office recently conducted an unscheduled removal of over 200 wild horses near the Nevada/ California border giving advocates no opportunity for legal filing to stop the action. Apparently, Glenn was not aware. Either Glenn is hiding the truth or management has no idea what the field offices are doing. Any way one chooses to look at it, this makes a huge statement.
Even Department of Justice lawyers seem to be tripping over their tongues. Erick Petersen defended BLM’s position in a district court hearing to determine the merits of a request for injunction to stop the Calico Complex roundup. “Removing the animals also will help preserve the endangered and rapidly disappearing rangeland where they live.” Petersen said. Maybe Glenn didn’t tell him “The range is in good condition.”
Petersen also said “The 1971 law requires removal of excess horses to ensure they are treated humanely.” He was joking wasn’t he?
Animal welfare groups have been frustrated with BLM contradictions and inconsistencies for some time. The program istelf would seem to be a contradiction.
District Court Judge Rosemary M Collyer ruled against a Colorado roundup in August of this year saying,
“It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild free roaming horses to ‘manage’ them, Congress intended to permit the animals’ custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that Congress sought to protect from being captured and removed from the wild.”
Celebrities, scientists, Animal welfare and Wild Horse Advocate organizations along with private citizens are supported by members of Congress in their call for an immediate moratorium on wild horse roundups pending Congressional investigation. And yet the roundups continue at an escalated pace. By all appearances, it’s a last ditch attempt at the annihilation of America’s wild horse herds.
A call is growing to remove the wild horse and burro program from the BLM altogether….. a movement also supported by some members of congress.
In all fairness to Ken Salazar, he has been on the job for less than a year. He inherited the problem. Corralling the BLM herd of management dinosaurs in that period of time is an unrealistic expectation. A anonymous source stated to this examiner,” This is a timely moment. For the first time in history, this has gotten the Secretary’s attention.” The statement is pleasant to the ears. But the questions remain. Can Ken Salazar bring the program into the 21st century? Will the program be removed from the BLM before America’s symbol of freedom is no longer free?