Thursday, February 25, 2010

March for Mustangs

Straight from the Horse's Heart

February 25, 2010 R.T. Fitch

When: Thursday, March 25th From 1:00-3:00pm, Press conference and speakers at 1:30pm (Filmmaker/Advocate Ginger Kathrens, Author R.T. Fitch and many more- including special guests to be announced)

Where: Lafayette Park (north side of Whitehouse, on H Street between 15th and 17th Streets, NW). At 3:00pm protesters will march with signs to the BLM office at 1849 ‘C’ Street.
Plus Mustangs on the Hill II: On Friday morning we’ll brief advocates regarding their meetings with their Senators and Representatives in regard to saving our mustangs. Please schedule an appointment with your Senators and Congressperson for Thursday morning or Friday.

Why: The Bureau of Land Management’s cruel and costly mismanagement is destroying a vital piece of the American west. The American public is sanding up for our horses and burros- please join us in a March for Mustangs, rally and protest.

Background: Roundups increased significantly in 2000 in the Bush years and they haven’t let up under the Obama administration.  12,000 wild horses and burros are scheduled for removal from our public lands this fiscal year alone. These helicopter roundups come at enormous expense to our wild herds and to the American taxpayer.

Recently the roundup of 1900 mustangs took place in the Calico Mountains of Northwestern Nevada during the dead of winter, ending early in February when BLM realized the herds were far smaller than estimated. To date 60 horses have died due to this roundup and the death toll continues to climb daily. This does not include the 30 plus mares that have aborted their late-term foals in the feedlot style corrals in Fallon, Nevada where the horses are being held. Two foals had their hooves literally separate from the bone after the helicopters ran their families for miles over rocky and sharp volcanic ground.

Secretary Ken Salazar, who oversees the BLM, has decided there is no room left for our mustangs on their designated lands in the West and has proposed purchasing private land and shipping wild horses (gelded stallions and mares) East to the first of seven “preserves” which many people call SalaZoos. The plan as it stands only adds to the financial and humane train wreck that the Wild Horse and Burro Program has become.

So, rather than spending over $30 million this fiscal year to remove our wild horses and burros from the range plus $42 million to buy land in the East, let’s protect them on their western lands. The intent of Congress’ 1971 Free-roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act was not to warehouse our mustangs but to allow them to live in freedom in self-sustaining numbers on western rangelands designated primarily for their survival. Drastic change is needed in the management of wild horses and burros if they are to survive, as wild animals, into the future. Wild horses benefit the land as they evolved in North America and they represent our living history in the west.

Add to the millions spent for round ups, the annual lose of $123 million running a taxpayer subsidized grazing program, often referred to as “welfare ranching”. The fees charged to livestock permittees is currently the lowest allowed by law—$1.35 per cow/calf pair per month. This rate needs would need to be over $9.00 in order for the program to break even. If cows were removed on legally designed wild horse herd areas and horses allowed to stay, we’d save even more—including our valued mustangs. Holding the 1900 Calico horses alone in a feedlot style facility amounts to a staggering cost of over $10,000 per day!

But change is on the way for our wild horses and burros! Some 25 protests have been mounted from coast-to-coast including Chicago, LA, NYC, Denver, Las Vegas, Reno, and Sacramento since late December. Thousands of people have braved the cold and come out with their families to hold banners and signs demanding that President Obama react to the hideous mistreatment of our spectacular wild horses and respond to the incredible waste of taxpayer dollars on a broken program that only lines the pockets of powerbrokers and cattle barons. Now is the time to say enough is enough. Open the gates and return our wild horses to their rightful ranges.

Please take action for our wild herds.  An immediate moratorium on all roundups is needed! This must be followed by hearings and investigations on BLM mismanagement; accurate and independent assessments of just how many wild horses we have left and the real range conditions. Then we need to develop a sustainable plan for our wild herds on our Western public lands and restore their protections set forth in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Moving our wild horses in non-reproducing, broken families to the East is not the answer.

Join us on Thursday, March 25th for a Mustangs March on Washington and take action today to save these incredible animals who are currently being managed to extinction.

Take Action: Call President Obama 202-456-1111, Call your Senators 202-224-
visit or call 719-633-3842 for more information
This protest is being organized by The Equine Welfare Alliance, The Cloud Foundation, Friends for Animals and Many Others– please spread the word!

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