Sunday, December 5, 2010

Statements of BLM Director Bob Abbey & Sue Wallis on "Summit of the Horse"

The Desert Independent

From: Bob Abbey

December 4, 2010

As Director of the Bureau of Land Management, which manages America's public lands for multiple uses, I am committed to meeting with diverse stakeholders who have an interest in public land management issues. I have therefore tentatively accepted an invitation to speak at an event called "Summit of the Horse," sponsored by the United Horsemen organization, which will be held Jan. 3-6, 2011, in Las Vegas.

A description of the event has been posted by the organization at

The Department of Interior and the BLM have already removed from the discussion table any consideration of the euthanasia of healthy wild horses and the unlimited sale of older horses, even though these legal authorities exist under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, as amended. Having taken the position that slaughter is not a viable or acceptable management option, I will focus my remarks on the present and future course of the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program, which the BLM is committed to putting on a sustainable track, as called for by the Government Accountability Office in a report issued in October 2008. I am also open to discussing new management approaches, and have already had talks with Madeleine Pickens regarding a possible wild horse ecosanctuary.

I recently met with wild horse advocates in Sacramento, California, including representatives of the Humane Society of the United States and the Cloud Foundation. I have demonstrated a willingness to discuss the BLM's management of wild horses and burros with any organization interested in ensuring the health and welfare of wild horses and burros, both on and off the range. Some of these organizations take conflicting positions on what is the best way to manage wild horses and burros, but that is to be expected and welcomed in a nation known for free and open dialogue on controversial issues.

From: Sue Wallis

Director Abbey,

I wanted to personally let you know how much we all appreciate your willingness to join us in Las Vegas for the Summit of the Horse. Your agency’s work is so important to the overall picture. We look forward to hearing about your efforts to create realistic and sustainable solutions to the problems surrounding the management of wild horses on federal lands.

I also wanted to make sure that you understand that the program is designed to address two separate and very distinct problems in the overall picture. Misinformed activists are doing their best to cloud and obfuscate, so I wanted to let you know, directly from us, what our vision is and what we hope to accomplish.

First, we want to bring reasonable people from various viewpoints to the table to discuss calmly and rationally the challenges around the management of not only wild horses on federal lands, but the serious problems with feral horses on tribal, state, and private lands where these horses are not under federal management. As I’m sure you are aware, the problems there are just as dire, actually more so, because tribes, states, and ranchers don’t have the luxury of calling on the taxpayers to foot the bill.

Secondly, a number of separate efforts are being developed in Oregon, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming to restore humane and regulated horse processing for the domestic horse industry. This is needed to provide a viable option for horse owners in regards to the disposal of excess and unusable horses. While I cannot speak for the other efforts, I can assure you that the plant we are building in Wyoming has absolutely no intention, never have, and never will of processing BLM horses. There is huge pent-up demand in the domestic horse world since the Pickens financed HSUS drive that shut down the U.S. horse processing facilities in 2007, and we will only be processing those horses that are provided by owners who fully understand that they are going to be humanely processed for zoo diets, pet food, and other useful products.

While there is some interrelationship between these two objectives, they are quite distinct. Therefore the first afternoon of our program, where you are our keynote speaker is organized around the theme, “Healthy lands/Healthy Horses—Restoring ecological balance to federal lands, controlling excess and unwanted feral horses on state, tribal, and private lands,” while the other blocks of time scheduled during the Summit primarily address issues within the domestic horse industry.

Thanks again. I look forward to meeting you in Las Vegas.


Sue Wallis, Vice President
United Horsemen a 501c3 educational and charitable nonprofit dedicated to the well being of horses and horse people

The Desert Independent thanks David Duquette, Executive Director, United Horsemen's Front, for these statements/letters.

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