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For Immediate Release
Public Opposes Salazar’s Request for Millions to Move Mustangs East

Americans want to keep their wild horses in the West

Colorado Springs, CO (March 1, 2010)—The Cloud Foundation and members of the public are calling on their Senators to oppose the dubious Salazar Plan— to move captured wild horses East. On March 3rd Secretary Ken Salazar is expected to testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to request $42 million to implement phase one of what many are calling the “SalaZoo Plan”, a call for moving thousands of mustangs (mares and neutered stallions) to taxpayer purchased lands in the Midwest and East. With Salazar’s plan, announced last October, only a few “treasured” wild horse and burro herds may be left in the West.  The Secretary, a former Colorado U.S. Senator and will attempt to convince Senators that the West is out of room for wild horses and they must be moved East for their own good. The Cloud Foundation contends that the Salazar Plan this is cruel, unnecessary, and enormously costly to taxpayers and wild herds alike. 

There are now more wild horses in expensive government holding that there are on 29 million acres of public lands and less than a quarter of wild herds are managed at genetically viable levels. Advocates continue making clear demands for the return of wild horses to the over 24 -58 million acres of public lands where legally designated wild horse herds have been zeroed out since passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act in 1971. When Congress unanimously passed the Act, it stated that our wild herds were to be managed as “an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”

“How about putting the mustangs back out on the lands where BLM zeroed them out?” asks Eric Wright, Nevada resident and wild horse photographer. “BLM can’t even explain what happened to 24 -58 million acres where wild horses were to be managed. Just last fall they completely zeroed out 12 herds outside of Ely, Nevada—lands where mustangs have roamed for centuries. Now the land is suddenly ‘inappropriate for wild horses’ but still appropriate for some thousands of head of cattle.”

After a 2006 town hall meeting in Greeley Colorado, then U.S. Senate candidate Salazar, told Barbara Flores, a longtime wild horse advocate, that wild horses don’t belong on public lands. Clearly, his opinion remains unchanged. The Secretary’s plan to move thousands of mustangs East onto private lands purchased on the taxpayer’s dime and to continue the massive roundups would spell the end of America’s celebrated Western Herds on the public’s land. 

“The Secretary’s plan is fiscal insanity and just the opposite of what Congress intended when it passed the Wild Horse and Burro Act,” stated Ginger Kathrens, filmmaker of the Cloud series and executive director of The Cloud Foundation. “Whether you like wild horses and burros or not, every taxpayer should be up arms over this. And the SalaZoo plan is a potential health disaster for western wild horses shipped east. Did the Secretary ever think about trimming the feet every six weeks of thousands of wild horses now on grassy pastures? Or the risks of humidity and non-native forage? What about rain rot, colic, founder, or the other illnesses and conditions wild horses would need to overcome in the East?”

Already over 34,000 wild horse are warehoused by the BLM at a cost of over $3.3 million per month. According to American Herds an estimated 15,000 or fewer wild horses and burros remain in the wild. BLM admits they have no accurate census. The remaining half of their $67.5 million budget goes directly to removing thousands more wild horses in expensive helicopter roundups by private contractors, one of whom was convicted of using aircraft to hunt wild horse horses, aiding and abetting. Those horses were sent to slaughter in Texas. “This contractor has continued to receive millions of taxpayer dollars even though he violated the very law the BLM is mandated to uphold,” commented Julianne French, an Arizona wild horse and burro advocate. “The management of this program is so broken, it’s hard to know where to clean house first. And Salazar’s plan just compounds the problem.” 

The public disagrees with the Salazar Plan. “It seems a real stretch that captured, neutered mustangs would be an ecotourism draw the East,” remarked advocate Marian Jo Souder of Ohio. “I’d sure rather see mustangs and burros in their natural western ranges, not in eastern holding fields.” Already over 22,000 wild horses are kept in holding pastures in Kansas and Oklahoma. The only difference between BLM’s current “long-term holding” and Salazar’s “preserves” according to DOI Undersecretary Sylvia Baca is that the public would be allowed to view these captured horses. Her comments were made at the December, 2009 BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board Meeting in Reno, Nevada.

The Salazar plan only highlights the enormous disconnect between the public and the so-called Rogue BLM agency. One advocate in Oklahoma remarked, “As far as the Salazar plan, my great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee who walked the trail of tears.  I don't see Salazar’s ‘preserves’ as much different from the reservations my family members were forced to move to.”  

In the recent million dollar-plus, 40-day Calico Roundup, over 1900 mustangs were pushed by helicopters from their stark and beautiful mountain stronghold in NW Nevada. At least 64 mustangs have died in this winter roundup with that number climbing daily and over 35 late term abortions have been reported in the Fallon, Nevada holding pens. BLM stopped the roundup early when they admitted they had significantly over-counted the wild horses left on the range. Meanwhile thousands of privately-owned cattle still graze those same wild horse herd areas bringing in revenues to the BLM of around $40,000 per year – less than what it cost to hold the Fallon horses for four days.  Annually American taxpayers lose $123 million running the taxpayer subsidized grazing program, referred to as “welfare ranching”. The grazing fee is currently the lowest allowed by law—$1.35 per cow/calf pair per month. A grazing fee hike of 600% would be required to pay for just the costs of administration of the program. Outnumbered 100:1 by cattle on public lands, wild horses and burros represent less than 0.5% of hooved animals on our public lands.  

Americans from across the nation will gather in Washington DC on March 25th (March for Mustangs) to protest Salazar's plan for the removal and destruction of America’s Western wild herds. Advocates want a truly sustainable plan to protect wild horses and burros in the West. 

“It is time to reveal the BLM wild horse and burro program for what it is— a deceitful and inhumane waste of taxpayer money. What other program aims to destroy what it is charged to protect with such willful disregard to the public they serve?” asks Ginger Kathrens.

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Links of interest:

March for Mustangs- March 25th, DC Rally: http://bit.ly/d8GqEY

News Story on Calico, rising death toll & skewed numbers from George Knapp (KLAS- Las Vegas): http://bit.ly/9f1DYb

BLM Daily Reports from Calico Roundup/Fallon Holding: http://bit.ly/aSaeVc

“A Cruel Waste” – explanatory youtube video: http://wild-horse-burro.org/

Rebuttal to Salazar’s plan in LA Times: http://bit.ly/a3T6GJ

The Cloud Foundation position paper on Salazar plan—Oct. 2009: http://bit.ly/cpKnum

Good Morning America at Calico http://bit.ly/bXtwd5

New York Times “Horses Die in Roundup” http://nyti.ms/atZqF5

Feds Deny Gas Pipeline Related to Wild Horse Roundup http://bit.ly/buLfh5

After campaigning for Obama, Sheryl Crow at odds over his administration’s wild-horse plan (Associated Press) 

Mestengo. Mustang. Misfit.  America’s Disappearing Wild Horses - A History

Frequently Asked Questions on Wild Horses 

Unified Moratorium letter and signatories  http://bit.ly/6ck87L

Roundup Schedule- updated January 11, 2010  http://bit.ly/5AmMLm

Photos, video and interviews available from:
The Cloud Foundation
The Cloud Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the preservation and protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands with a focus on protecting Cloud's herd in the Pryor Mountains of Montana. 
107 S. 7th St. - Colorado Springs, CO 80905