Thursday, September 22, 2011

Submit Comments on Proposed National Academy of Sciences Study Panel

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

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Urge Balance and Objectivity in Reviewing the Wild Horse and Burro Program

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Will the NAS review rise above the influence of the powerful livestock interests that drive the mismanagement of our public lands?


Comments Are Due Monday, September 26, 2011


The future of America’s wild horses on Western rangelands could very well rest on the outcome of a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse and burro program. The NAS has appointed a provisional committee to conduct the review and is currently accepting public comments on the provisional committee members.
The first meeting of the review committee has also been scheduled for October 27-28, 2011 in Reno, Nevada.
The NAS is required by federal legislation to appoint a committee that is both balanced and free from conflicts-of-interest. AWHPC is concerned, however, that the proposed committee, which is provisional until public comments are reviewed, does not meet this mandate.
The outcome of the NAS review will affect federal wild horse and burro management policy for decades to come, so it’s critically  important that we get our comments in today!
Please submit comments by clicking here.  The NAS is only accepting comments via their online comment form. For your convenience, you can use the messages below to help guide your comments.
Subject: Imbalance on Provisional Panel Must Be Corrected
  • The provisional committee lacks any member with expertise in the most recent scientific evidence indicating that the horse is a native North American species. An expert in this area must be added to correct the current imbalance of committee members who hold the outdated scientific belief that wild horses are a “feral” and “invasive, non-native” species. The status of the horse and its relationship to the ecosystem has profound implications for the management of this species.
  • The provisional committee lacks expertise in  the subject area of natural behavior and social organization of wild horses in the West. This fundamental understanding of wild horses is essential to evaluating management policies, therefore this deficiency must be corrected in the final committee configuration.
  • The provisional committee is imbalanced in favor of those who accept the status quo with regard to livestock grazing on public rangelands and lacks any member with expertise on the environmental impacts of livestock grazing on public lands. At least one panel member, Dr. David Thain, has close ties to the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, yet there is no corresponding member who has expressed concern about public lands grazing. Since conflicts between livestock grazing and wild horses on public lands lie at the heart of the wild horse controversy, it is imperative that this imbalance be corrected in the final committee membership.
  • The provisional committee includes two members who hold official positions with the Wildlife Society, a group which has consistently taken a strong position against wild horses, testifying at public hearings, issuing press releases defending current BLM policy, and promulgating a policy statement that espouses the scientifically disproven theory that wild horses are a “feral,” “invasive,” and “non-native” species. If these members remain on the committee, then they must be balanced with members from organizations that have taken a pro-wild horse/pro-conservation stance. Both the Western Watersheds Project and the Humane Society of the United States have individuals qualified to serve on this committee.
  • The provisional committee includes a number of members who have been proponents of the contraception drug GonaCon, about which there are serious concerns regarding side effects and behavioral impacts. However, the committee lacks a proponent of the fertility control vaccine PZP, which has a 20-year history of use in wild horses and is considered to be both safe and effective. If any of the pro-GonaCon panel members remain, then they must be balanced with committee members who have knowledge of and extensive experience with PZP fertility control and have advocated for its use  in controlling wild horse populations.
  • Federal legislation requires NAS committees to be balanced and free from conflicts-of-interest. As a result, the imbalances in the current provisional panel for reviewing the wild horse and burro program must be corrected.
  • If the current imbalances on the provisional committee are not corrected, the tax dollars being spent to underwrite this review will be wasted. The controversy over the BLM’s wild horse program has continued for decades. If progress is to be made, the NAS must provide an unbiased and objective look at the scientific basis of the program.

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