The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) late this afternoon issued a new policy that it presents as "another step forward" in its attempt to stop the flow of federally protected wild horses into Mexico for slaughter. Unfortunately, this policy simply formalizes the process by which the BLM can sell wild horses in its possession to kill buyers.
For example, the new policy prohibits sales of four or more wild horses in a six-month period to one individual or group without prior approval of a BLM Assistant Director.
Yet in a groundbreaking ProPublica article from September that explores this issue, BLM Corral Managers were quoted as saying that they were under pressure from these very BLM managers in Washington "to make numbers" and that the decision to sell to kill buyers "all happens in Washington. We are just peons. We do what we are told."
Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), said:
"Putting the decision of who gets more than four horses in the hands of the very same BLM managers who were exposed as being responsible for wild horses ending up in the hands of a known kill buyer who ships horses to Mexican slaughterhouses is outrageous -- especially considering the new policy allows the BLM to look the other way after six months."
"This new policy is window dressing for an Administration that uses every excuse to look away and only started to ask questions after its immoral and potentially unlawful actions were exposed by the media. It is not a serious attempt to stop federally protected wild horses from ending up at Mexican slaughterhouses. The only way to do that is to stop rounding up and removing wild horses from public lands in the West and start answering fundamental questions, such as why the BLM is stockpiling more wild horses than it knows what to do with."
"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the Department of Interior and the BLM are reacting to growing political pressure by taking minimal action, while keeping in place a system that favors special interests but risks the total elimination of America's iconic wild horses."
In November, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign delivered a 25,130 signature letter to Secretary Salazar in November calling on him to pause the BLM's round-up, stockpiling and auction program immediately until a thorough investigation could determine how to ensure federally protected wild horses never again fall into the hands of kill buyers. As of January 4, 2013, Secretary Salazar has not responded.
Under the Obama Administration, the Interior Department has rounded up and removed over 35,000 wild horses from their homes on the range on Western public lands. Only a third of these horses have been adopted. Most captured horses are warehoused in holding facilities. Currently, there are more wild horses in government holding facilities (50,000) than are left free on the range (32,000). Wild horses are removed by the thousands from public lands to make room for taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing. Private livestock exceed wild horses on BLM lands by at least 50-1.