Interior Department reaches out for public support of wild horse and burro programJanuary 15, 1:16 PMLA Equine Policy ExaminerCarrol AbelKen Salazar, Department of the Interior photo/ Tami A. Heilimann DOI
Secretary Ken Salazar, U.S. Department of the interior, reached out for public support in the L.A. Times yesterday. His opinion article, At Home on the Range, laid out his thoughts on the history of wild horses in America then continued with a message intended to defend current wild horse and burro policy against a growing outcry from animal rights organizations.
As Secretary of the Interior, Salazar oversees eight major federal bureaus including the often maligned Bureau of Land Management, the agency mandated by Congress to preserve and protect the wild herds. Within months of his appointment by President Obama early last year, Salazar announced a plan to create non-producing herds on lands in the east and mid-west, stocking those from the over 30,000 wild horses currently in BLM holding facilities. Gelded herds are to be created on their existing ranges along with an escalation of birth control procedures for mares and the accelerated removal of horses currently living on western rangelands.
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.” says Salazar
Animal rights organizations view the current policy in a different light. Thousands of wild horse supporters are taking to the streets in protest, flooding the White House with phone calls and signing petitions demanding a moratorium on all wild horse roundups until Congress can craft a better plan.
The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA), an umbrella organization with over 90 member organizations, issued a press release in response to the L.A. Times Article which states in part,
Today, it is the DOI on Salazar’s watch that is entrusted to protect the wild herds but instead, is now the driving force managing the wild herds to the verge of extinction. Why? Because Salazar’s rancher friends need more land to graze their 7.5 million cattle which now have to compete with only 30,000 wild horses.”
EWA’s response also speaks of concerns recently raised over the Ruby Pipeline, a natural gas transmission line scheduled to run through wild horse ranges. The California Heliostat Project will do the same. BLM and DOI officials have yet to publicly address either of these projects and their impact on wild horses.
To date, the Salazar article has received 61 comments – all negative. He does make one statement on which both sides can agree:
“The current situation is unsustainable.”
Please write letters to the editor of your home newspaper and the LA Times- email@example.com (read Sec. Salazar’s opinion piece here)
“The Current Program is Unsustainable”- keep the letters coming!