Majority of Americans Ignored as Government Announces Appointment of Representatives of Special Interests that Stand to Profit at Expense of America’s IconsWashington, DC (February 7, 2012). . . Today, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, issued a strong rebuke to the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for yesterday’s announcement that the agency is further stacking the public citizen Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board with representatives of special interests that stand to profit from the capture and slaughter of America’s wild horses.
Despite public polling that regularly documents Americans’ overwhelming opposition to horse slaughter, the BLM has appointed a pro-horse slaughter, anti-wild horse activist to represent the interests of the “General Public” on the board. The agency also reappointed the past president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association to the “Veterinary Medicine” slot on the advisory board.
“The BLM is stacking this public advisory board with members who have an extremist agenda to remove wild horses from public lands and reinstitute the cruel practice of horse slaughter in the U.S.,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC director. “BLM continues to ignore the wishes of the majority of the American public by rigging this citizen advisory board to set the stage for slaughtering the tens of thousands of mustangs that the agency has removed from public lands and stockpiled in government holding facilities.”
At issue are the just announced appointments of Callie Hendrickson to fill the “General Public” slot on the advisory board, and the reappointment of Boyd Spratling, the past president of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, to the veterinary medicine position on the board.
Hendrickson, director of the White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts in Colorado, which are dominated by ranching interests, has a history of anti-mustang positions and in favor of slaughter:
- Lobbied for removal of wild horses from public lands;
- Endorsed the destruction of “excess” wild horses and the unlimited sale of captured mustangs for slaughter.
- Testified in favor of anti-wild horse legislation.
- Criticized wild horse advocates, including Madeleine Pickens, and Oprah Winfrey for featuring their cause.
- Supported legislation to block environmental and animal protection organizations from filing lawsuits.
“It is outrageous for the BLM to attempt to pass this pro-ranching, pro-slaughter opponent of wild horses off as a representative of the general public,” Roy concluded.
Last year, the BLM appointed another overtly anti-wild horse representative to the board. Jim Stephenson, representing “Natural Resource Management,” manages wild horses for the Yakima tribe by rounding up mustangs on tribal lands and selling them for slaughter. The Yakima have been at the forefront of lobbying efforts to restore domestic horse slaughter. As expected, as a member of the Advisory Board, Stephenson has advocated for the BLM to institute a policy of lethal management for wild horses removed from the range.
In 2010, the BLM appointed Paul Durbin to represent “Wildlife Management” interests on the board. Durbin is a member of three hunting organizations that lobby for the removal of burros and wild horses in order to increase forage for big game animals as well as the hunting of horses and burros to “cull” the herds. (See these articles for more information: Horseback Magazine and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Op-Ed.)
Since 2000, the BLM has rounded up and removed over 100,000 wild horses and burros from Western public lands. Today, nearly 50,000 of these wild horses are warehoused for life in government holding facilities. In 2005, an amendment surreptitiously inserted into a 3,300-page Omnibus Appropriations Bill authorized the BLM to sell captured wild horses without limitations on the number of horses purchased or the intentions of the buyer and passed without notice or debate. Shortly after that and ever since, Congress introduced and passed appropriations language to prohibit the BLM from selling horses to any party that intends to sell them for slaughter.
About the AWHPC
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), supported by a coalition of over 45 horse advocacy, conservation, public interest and historic preservation organizations, is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. For more information visit www.wildhorsepreservation.org.