Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BLM Puts Up Comment Page to Address Beleaguered Wild Horse and Burro Program

Horseback Magazine

BLM Puts Up Comment Page to Address Beleaguered Wild Horse and Burro Program After 48 Die – Countless Mares Miscarry – And 2 Foals Euthanized After Losing Hooves
By Steven Long, Photo by Terry Fitch 

HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The federal Bureau of Land Management has spent months at the epicenter of discontent as individuals and groups have been increasingly angered by the agency’s alleged mismanagement of its wild horses program. These animals populate a tiny fraction of the 260 million acres under BLM control in the West.

Critics say the agency turns a tin ear to public comment serving only ranchers, mining, and hunting interests. The BLM says there is no room for a breeding horse population.

It’s policies have sparked loud protests from coast to coast.

The agency has suffered a flood of emails from around the country, and indeed the globe protesting a policy many believe is predetermined to make the wild horse extinct on lands under BLM control. Some geneticists say its standard birth control policy is being administered at breakneck speed to far too many horses creating genetic bankruptcy in herds that have already been subject to its “gathers.”

Yet the BLM has its supporters too. Horseback Magazine has received email from residents of wild horse country who describe the horses as “The cockroaches of the West.”

BLM wild horse roundups have been depicted as cruel by mainstream media in crushing investigative reports.
Often BLM’s own census numbers, including roundup death counts, don’t hold up under scrutiny.

Despite howls of protest from wild horse activists, critical media coverage, and damning videos released on You Tube, he agency has countered saying thousands of horses have been, and will be, rounded up for their own good. They claim the animals, shown fat and healthy after their capture in news footage, face starvation during the long mountain winter. Yet the annual spring thaw is just weeks away and recently captured horses appear healthy on the rare occasions press and public is allowed to briefly view them.

Critics, including Sen. Mary Landrieu, also claim the BLM has squandered its appropriation on a wild horse program that doesn’t work. They cite as an example of careless fiscal policies that despite the vastness of BLM holdings, the agency warehouses the horses it has captured on property leased from private landowners. Wild horse advocates say the horses only cost the government pennies when they roamed free in their natural habitat.

The Obama budget calls for an increase of $12 million over last year’s $64 million that depleted on the program of capturing and holding wild horses.

In memos leaked to the Associated Press last year, BLM managers discussed euthanizing thousands of captured horses. The stories sparked howls of derision and cries of anger from horse lovers everywhere..
The press and public has been largely barred from witnessing the activities of the BLM and its contractors despite a recent pledge to allow humane observers

Forty-eight horses have died in the recent Calico Mountain roundup, including one who died Monday. Two foals died after being stampeded for miles by a roaring helicopter. Their hooves became detached from their bodies and the two babies were euthanized.

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