Sec. Salazar’s Oped

Please send comments to (150 words max so they don’t have to edit them down). Wild horses do have natural predators but Wildlife Services kills them. Wild horses have a home on the western range. They are healthy and the herds are being managed irresponsibly. The horses do well in their western homes- moving them to eastern pastures would be a humane and fiscal disaster (overgrown feet, teeth, worms, insect problems, founder). Call for a moratorium on roundups until independent counts, Congressional hearings and investigations can be conducted. We’d like to find a working solution but that would begin with discussion, not targeted op-eds.

read a wonderful rebuttal here by Jack Carone, Return to Freedom

At home on the range  – Opinion

Making room for America’s wild horses requires balance.

By Ken Salazar

January 14, 2010

Since Spanish conquistadors brought horses to the American continent four centuries ago, the majestic animals that once roamed wild on our nation’s great prairies have endured dramatic changes in the American landscape. The grasslands of the Midwest gave way to farms. Barbed-wire fences closed the ranges of Texas. Western cities grew and suburbs sprawled.

Having lost much of their range, wild horses teetered on the verge of disappearing in the 1960s, prompting Congress to pass the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which established new federal protections for the animals. Over the last four decades, the Bureau of Land Management has helped wild horses thrive and populations recover on the arid expanses of public lands in the West.

Though an American icon is again flourishing, the job of restoring the health of wild horse herds is far from complete.

Without natural predators, wild horse populations have grown beyond the carrying capacity of the sensitive and sparse lands on which they live, causing damage to ecosystems and putting them at risk of starvation. As a result, federal managers must move thousands of wild horses each year off the range to pastures and corrals, where they are fed, cared for and put up for adoption.

The current situation is unsustainable.

The American people expect the health of their lands and watersheds to be protected, and it is unacceptable to allow wild horses to be malnourished on inadequate ranges. Yet no one wants to see them gathered and moved off Western ranges. Moreover, the status quo comes with a steep price tag. The federal government spends more than $60 million a year on the wild horse and burro program, of which $35 million goes to the care and feeding of the horses.

A broad range of animal rights organizations, conservationists and Western communities agree that we cannot continue down the current path. We must change course.

I agree.

However, if we are to succeed in restoring the health of wild horse herds, we must choose our new path wisely. To allow wild horse herds to grow beyond the limit of the range — as some wild horse advocates and celebrities are arguing — is not realistic, humane or environmentally responsible.

Instead, we need a comprehensive and balanced approach built on new partnerships, new thinking and new courage to tackle an issue that, unfortunately, has no easy solution.

First, we must control the growth of wild horse herds by humanely applying fertility control to wild horses on the range. We can do so responsibly and at a reasonable cost.

We must elevate the stature and care of wild horse herds that will sustainably live on Western ranges for generations to come. As Interior secretary, I am examining ways we can better showcase special herds in signature areas of the West to provide eco-tourism opportunities and provide them greater protection.

We must identify and restore new habitat where wild horses could be returned. Some of the prairies and ranges outside the West — places where forage is rich and where wild horses once wandered — could become sanctuaries for the animals. I have proposed that through partnerships with the private sector, stakeholders and local communities, we establish new sanctuaries in the Midwest and the East, where healthy horse herds could return.

Finally, we must recognize that the federal government alone cannot restore the health of wild horse herds. We need citizens to help. We want Americans to visit their public lands where horses roam, to help us care for these magnificent animals, to share their ideas with us and to help us find citizens and animal lovers across the country who will adopt wild horses and provide healthy, happy homes for them.

Growing up in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, where my family has farmed and ranched for five generations, I learned that preserving the health of our land and wildlife requires collaboration, patience and courage. Demonizing others in the ways that some advocates have recently demonized federal land managers is neither reasonable nor productive.

We are all seeking to restore the health of America’s wild horse herds and ranges. Let us find common ground and humane, environmentally sound solutions on our public lands.

Ken Salazar is the secretary of the Interior.


32 Responses to “Sec. Salazar’s Oped”

  1. Cathy Kindsfather Says:

    Our horses are not starving. The blm is in no way angelic. I don’t buy this.

  2. Laura Evans Says:

    It’s just another twisted way that they BLM is using to try to get the american people to believe that they’re doing everything they can to fix this. And I’m reading it that they’re trying to convince us that the 1971 act was created so that they could protect the animals from starving.

  3. Karen L. Says:

    Here we go. Their erroneous and quite over used-mantra—“the horses have no predators; the horses are starving; we want to save them from being wild horses”. They certainly need to find a new approach. Many of us have suggested ways that they might “change course”, but so far they aren’t listening.

    My response to the L.A. Times will be written this afternoon…

  4. Tara Kain Says:

    Does Salazar realize how bad he sounds? When one tells the truth, it makes sense. When one lies, more lies need to be told and nothing makes sense. When Salazar says that the horses are starving, yet we need to control the herds with the PZP fertility hormone-changing drug, how does that make sense? Wouldn’t starving horses be dying off and not in need of fertile breed management? Salazar, it is so obvious that you and the whole rest of the government are in it for the money. Making money off the cattle, off of the energy and land resources (which could co-exist with wild horses and burros, but currently not allowed to). Unfortunately for the horses, they don’t make you money, they are just a representative of America’s freedom…oh, that’s right, we are now the Land of the Regulated, no longer the Land of the Free. Thanks Salazar for pointing that out…Maybe that’s what it takes for the American People realize what is happening.

  5. Laura Evans Says:

    They have no other mantra. Can we hope that the fact that they are repeating it more frequently is because they’re trying to drown us out? Are we getting to them? More importantly, are we getting the truth out there?

  6. kas0859ohio Says:

    Did anyone see the O’Reilly show last night? Bo Derek was on talking about the wild horse issues. She mentioned the BLM is/was talking about euthanasia. I’m anxious to hear the viewer letters in response to the show. You can watch the segment online.

    • Laura Evans Says:

      I just watched that. I’ve never been a big fan of Bill O’Reilly but it was nice for a change to see some one asking the right questions. Instead of just stating that the BLM says they destroy the range for other animals he actually questioned it and let her answer.



  8. Janet Ferguson Says:

    Sent this today:

    An open letter to the editor, your readers, President Obama, and others (see distribution, below)

    I write you today to try to impress upon you the very urgent need for The Wild Horse and Burro Program of the Bureau of Land Management, as well as our elected officials, to TAKE A GIANT STEP BACK, stop this and all roundups scheduled for the current fiscal year, and EVALUATE the terrible damage your current range management practices have done, and continue to do, to the public lands, the living lands — whereon millions of cattle destroy the ecosystems and the wild equid (a tiny population in comparison) which is shown by science to be compatible and beneficial, along with many other species of animal and plants, including game animals, to these very ecosystems — are denied their place. You have allowed other interests, largely cattle interests, to fence the horses, thus changing their natural roaming behavior, to deny these horses water in some cases, and ruthlessly managed them with the apparent goal of extinction of their kind.

    The following observations are from Craig Downer, ecologist (see source, below)

    While Congress has passed clear laws and guidelines (Public Law 92-195) for the protection AND MANAGEMENT of the wild horses and burros as the principal presence on their ranges, the very important federal National Integrated Land System (NILS) data retrieval program FAILS TO INCORPORATE LIVESTOCK, BIG GAME and other overlapping uses within the wild equid Herd Areas and Herd Management Areas. Other uses within these areas (wilderness, mining claims, etc.) are incorporated. It has been estimated by Craig Downer (in his paper, “Forever Wild and Free”, presented at the Wild Horse Summit, Las Vegas, NV, 10/12/08, that over 98% of legal wild horse and burro areas are being grazed by livestock. Craig Downer also states that, upon analysis, there emerges an “effective displacement of the wild equids from at least 75%, or three fourths, of the public lands — both BLM and USFS — to which they are legally entitled as the “principal” presences to be managed for within these original Herd Areas.

    Mr. Downer suggests consideration of a suggestion by the late Nancy Whittaker, of the Animal Protection Institute: “Her idea was that the government issue conservation permits in lieu of grazing permits in the legal wild horse/burro areas AS IN OTHER CATEGORIES SUCH AS WILDERNESS, and that the wild equid-supporting public be permitted to bid on these with the aim of freeing the herd areas of competing livestock, especially where in excess, among other conflictive interests.” Mr. Downer suggests that “this seems entirely fair and”. . . “her insightful proposal be pursued by regulatory and, if necessary, Congressional means.”

    The public is not only losing its wild horses, we are watching you destroy the land, through your pro-cattle bias and your INABILITY to stand up to these interests and run the Wild Horse and Burro Program according to the law of the land presently protecting the wild horses and burros.

    cc: (by hard copy) President Barak Obama; VP Joe Biden; Interior Secretary Salazar, Senator Christopher Bond; Senator McCaskill; Bob Abbey


    Mrs. Ferguson
    Taxpayer for 40 Long Years

    • Marilyn Wargo Says:

      Good letter, JF. We must be able to turn things around with community action and Local organization of people who will document the horses and be there near them. We need a network of wild horse people who can compile records and be guardians who get to know all regional BLM WH&BP employees and let them know we are serious about making management change in favor of the wild ones and cost effective, also. Involve the wild horse people and save the land and wild ones. mar

    • Suzanne Moore Says:

      Excellent letter. I received a reply from my Senator Richard Lugar. It was intelligent and he seems pretty well informed on the subject. I think I may be able to “educate” him.

      He also said he thinks that Congress needs to act on the situation.

      Keep your fingers crossed!





  11. Monika Courtney Says:

    I tried to post this at L.A. Times, it won’t take it.

    After yrs. of horrific mismanagement / propaganda to deceive the public, is it any wonder BLM is demonized ? Had this agency demonstrated integrity, corrected the deficiencies in the program and addressed the critical failings outlined in the GOA report of last year: outdated methodology to determine appropriate range numbers, poorly managed aggressive removals (more horses stockpiled now than in wild), an outrageous distracting long-range plan in the Midwest (horses will get ill from change of diet and climate), the agency’s misuse of taxpayer dollars, which is fiscally highly irresponsible – the constant EXCUSES of “achieving thriving ecological balance”,when indeed the agency has taken over 19 million ACRES of their federally protected range-and whines about “scarce lands”,the loss or range due to their abuse of increased funds by Congress to do even more destruction than anyone knows, the current management REGIME is not transparent nor honest – they deceive the nation with fabricated myths still when ultimate motives are the only factor to drive the horses from their homes…Ruby Pipeline.. to begin in early 2010, right thru Calico Mts.,the West is the new alternative energy frontier – and BLM has played the multi-million $ giveaway SCAM to welfare ranching – ratio now is 200 cattle / 1 horse. Livestock permittees need to phase out and mustangs PUT BACK.



    • Karen L. Says:

      Louie, If you have given your registry information first, then go to add a comment. If you added a comment first, it should then direct you to the registry. Once you hit the submit box, your comment should come up with a black background. Just “X” out of the site at that point. Don’t attempt to hit add or submit again. I hope that helps.

  13. Monika Courtney Says:

    call LA times 213 237 7000
    ask for Paul or Linda Hall and then ask for Paul
    I tried too for one hour now, even confirmed the link they sent me after registering… and still no luck.

    seems to be a problem there, as another friend tried, and no luck.

  14. Janet Ferguson Says:

    I sent mine to the email provided above by TCF:

    Good luck. If you can “copy/paste” your comments before you leave the box it is a good thing. . . .

    I sent them the letter that I used when I wrote to BLM regarding the Dec. 7th roundup. After a while you have a group of docs you can sort of use for more than one use.

    Those registries are a mess sometimes.

  15. Margaret Says:

    Oh Good Grief! Why is Ken Slaughter Czar writing articles for the paper when HE WON’T EVEN WRITE US! For all my letters I have heard ZERO back.

    BLM even announced last week or the week before that they would not address the Calico Roundup again because of the lawsuit. Yet, Mr. Slaughter himself is now doing a letter campaign.

    Is this what Ginger had to deal with in Sept–BLM speaking out of both sides of their mouths? No wonder people are steamed by the pack of lies we are being fed.

  16. Sher Hall Says:

    Mr Salazar,
    You’re as “OUT OF TOUCH” as most politicians today having your writers write warm & fuzzy words to fool most of the people but you can’t fool us!!!!!!!! You’re a disgrace as are the vermin in DC!!!!!!

    There isn’t one government entity that works for the betterment “OF THE PEOPLE”, “BY THE PEOPLE” or “FOR THE PEOPLE” And now the poor Mustangs have the BLM indisregard of their ruling to run and live Free on the Range!!! The BLM (Bureau of Land grabbing Maggots) cannot hide the facts that they are up to NO GOOD regarding The Wild Mustangs. They are for SPECIAL INTERESTS!
    In a way I draw an anology as soon this is how the citizenry will be treated with total GOVERNMENT CONTROL OVER OUR LIVES!!!!!!!!! May the POWER OF OUR LORD deal with you and others!!!!!!!!
    FIGHT THEM WITH ALL THAT YOU’VE GOT, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!! FIGHT, fight, fight!!!!!!! Stand Up, Stand Up, Stand Up for FREEDOM!!!!!!!! FREEDOM IN ALL FORMS!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND MOST OF ALL, THROW THE BUMS OUT!!!!! THROW THEM ALL OUT!!!!

  17. Monika Courtney Says:

    Louie.. it doesn’t take my comment either. Maybe Salazar is the new editor there… (LOL)
    I tried and tried, just no luck. Oh well. But there are many good comments – good job gang !!!

  18. jan sterling Says:

    makes me mad – twice madeline pickens offered to take the horses the blm is holding – offered 100 million to take them to land she owns – they turned her down so what is salazar saying he wants private citzens involved in saving horses – that is bs when he turned down a beneafactor that could affod to take them and protect them –

  19. Sandra Miller Says:

    The best response I can give to that sack of manure by Sec. Salazar is to encourage everyone to donate all they can to In Defense of Animals to pursue this matter in court. We are not going to live long enough to convert all the wild horse haters! The time for arguments with the BLM is really past. It is a futile effort, at best. To educate the uneducated general public is very important – to discuss the whole matter with the DOI/BLM further should only be done now in court! While we are engaged in arguing, Salazar and his BLM buddies would be transporting the wild horses and burros to Extinction Acres in the East. Every argument he has raised is ridiculous in light of the REAL issue, which is, you people are not now and have not been obeying the 1971 law, which is, in the eyes of the citizens of this country, JOB ONE for our federal government. I just read “BLM’s Final Solution for the Wild Horses and Burros” on the Animal Law Coalition web site last night – twice. What a sickening document that is! My conclusion is that our wild horses and burros are in the hands of people with criminal intent and sick minds. I don’t think arguing with any of them further is useful! This really is a matter that should have been in court years ago! Forcing the application of the federal law we have should be our main focus – and one, I am sure, Salazar hopes to distract us from pursuing. “Making Room for America’s Wild Horses Requires Balance” is an incorrect title – the correct title should be “Making Room for America’s Wild Horses Requires
    Enforcement of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act”.





    • Karen L. Says:

      Great, Louie! I had to “play” with the submission box for a while to figure it out… All comments for the horses were wonderful!

    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      Read your letter — great! Congratulations for wrestling the L.A. Times webpage to the ground!

      Also 41 other great posts too! Wow!



  23. Anna Says:


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