Thursday, September 24, 2009
Now it Gets Political
From Horseback Magazine
Activists Will Seek To Fill Vacant Board Seats
CNN Airs Video of Limping Horses
By Steven Long
When the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meets on Monday it will face an avalanche of protest relating to the culling of wild horses in the American West.
It will also face an attempt to fill several open slots on the board with wild horse advocates.
A Labor Day weekend “gather” of horses on Montana’s Pryor Mountain and the injury of the iconic Palomino “Cloud” in a stampede by helicopter in an alleged 10 mile run over a rocky path down 5,000 feet of mountain trails has activists and fans of the PBS series “Nature” talking politics.
Cloud is the star of a PBS series by Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker Ginger Kathrens who made a video of him and a very young foal limping after they were released to return to the mountain. Portions of the video were shown Wednesday night on CNN.
The BLM denies the any horses were hurt. BLM policy states that sore feet on a horse do not constitute an injury, contrary to the overwhelming opinion of horsemen and veterinarians
The third program in the Cloud series is set to air in October.
The board currently has three vacancies. Activists hope to fill those spots or know the reason why they can’t.
The normally placid board which oversees policy making for America’s wild horses has been made up of political appointees, ranchers, veterinarians, and others with special interests in dealing with the bureau, which answers to the U.S. Department of Interior. The board meets twice each year.
No wild horse advocate currently holds a spot on the board, activists say.
The Monday meeting in Arlington VA is set for 8 AM – 5 PM at the Hyatt Hotel, 1325 Wilson Blvd.
Several animal welfare advocates have expressed a desire to fill the three openings.
The board doesn’t make it easy for citizens to express input regarding the nation's wild horse policy; a policy many now charge is wildly out of synch with the public’s wishes.
In a notice posted on the BLM website, the agency says, “Individuals who want to make a statement should register with the BLM by noon on the day of the meeting at the meeting site. Depending on the number of speakers, the board may limit the length of presentations.” The speakers will be given a short three minute slot to express their views.
Speakers must also submit a written copy of their statement.
Members of the board serve without salary but their expenses are paid by the government.
The BLM manages 256 million acres of land. Currently it holds 33,000 wild horses in captivity and claims it has no available acreage suitable for them to run free.
The BLM also does not class the horses as wild animals.