Tuesday, January 12, 2010

BLM Giving Free Wild Horse Removal To Ranchers Who Request It/3 Dead So Far

Horseback Magazine

By Steven Long

 BLM's Bob Abbey - BLM Photo 

HOUSTON , (Horseback) – The federal Bureau of Land Management acknowledged today that it charges private ranchers nothing for wild horse removal from their property - horses that are removed by the thousands at taxpayer expense.
“If they stray on to private land, the landowner has the right to request BLM to come and remove the animals,” said spokeswoman JoLynn Worley of the agency’s Nevada office in response to a query by Horseback Magazine.
“The BLM does not charge the landowner to remove wild horses or burros from their private property,” Worley acknowledged.
Horseback Magazine has repeatedly sought an interview with director Bob Abbey to discuss such policies, rules and actions that have sparked growing protests from coast to coast as well as a petition drive that has reached the White House.
Many ranchers in the West consider wild horses a nuisance. They see the animals, living off the land as they have for centuries, as competition for scarce grazing land. The taxpayer owned property is leased at the rock bottom rate of $1.35 per animal unit per month.
Thousands of acres of private land abut the public land BLM administers, The agency plans to remove vast numbers of wild horses. Inevitably, those horses will stray onto the private property - and inevitably the BLM will be asked to remove the horses at no charge to the landowner.
More than a million head of cattle graze on BLM land, compared to about 30,000 or fewer wild horses.
"The BLM's business acumen is mind boggling,” said John Holland, a Virginia technology consultant and founder of the Chicago based Equine Welfare Alliance.
“They pay millions of dollars to sweep healthy horses off private and public land so they can pay more millions to warehouse them and then rent the cleared land to cattle raisers for a loss of 80 cents on the dollar in administrative costs.”
Tens of thousands of horses are held in giant pens across the West in pastures owned by private interests while the agency administers 260 million acres, most of it vacant.
Holland charges this government “privatization” or the warehousing of horses that once roamed and grazed their natural habitat at no cost to the taxpayer is welfare for the ranchers who receive lucrative government contracts.
"Ironically, the BLM is doing this with "stimulus" funds,” Holland continued.  “Apparently they are under the assumption they are supposed to be stimulating the national debt."
Landowner, Greg Foster, who owns property in the Calico Mountains of Northern Nevada is cooperating with BLM on its current "gather" there. The agency claims the wild horses it is stampeding with a low flying helicopter are in mountainous terrain.
Spokesmen say that the bureau is only setting up a holding pen and storing equipment on Foster’s property. Since press and public have been barred from witnessing the roundup except during tightly controlled “media days,” there is no way to independently determine if the BLM is herding wild horses found on the landowner’s property.
Horseback Magazine has learned that during a recent flyover of the Calico "gather" area where thousands of wild horses are alleged by the BLM to live, only nine were counted.
Activists claim the BLM is also using birth control drugs to make the remaining herds genetically bankrupt and unable to propogate. They claim there will be no wild horses roaming free unless the BLM roundups and activities are stopped.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) La., has called for a revamp of the agency from top to bottom.
Worley, the BLM spokeswoman, claims the government has taken no horses on Foster’s land, yet there have been no witnesses allowed to watch and confirm the veracity of the agency’s claims.
The agency claims the horses are driven from the Nevada highlands into the pen set up on Foster’s property.
The BLM has refused to release any more information about the landowner other than his name.

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