Congress turns up the heat on Administration over handling of wild horse program

Congress turns heat up on Administration over handling of wild horse program

21 Representatives: "It is time to change course”

WASHINGTON, DC -- Twenty-one members of Congress sent a strong message of disapproval today to outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar over his handling of the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) wild horse program with just weeks left before he steps down.

The letter from Congressmen Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and signed by 19 of their colleagues questions the sustainability of the BLM's $80 million-a-year program. Under Salazar's tenure, for the first time in history, the U.S. government stockpiles more wild horses in taxpayer-funded holding facilities than remain free in the wild.

Secretary Salazar's management of this program led lawmakers to write that "it is time to change course" towards alternatives that will "save taxpayer dollars and manage wild horse populations in a manner that reflects their natural free-roaming behavior."

The full letter is available to view and download here.

Suzanne Roy, Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said:

"Today's letter demonstrates that the Administration has a five alarm fire on its hands with this program. The only question is whether they're going to do the right thing and put it out by implementing common sense reforms. The alternative is letting it consume the next Interior Secretary, tens of millions more of taxpayer dollars and destroy wild horses on public lands forever."

On increased Congressional activity on this issue, she said:

"This program is so wasteful, inhumane and unsustainable that it now has the attention of Congress. We applaud Representatives Grijalva and Whitfield and their colleagues for holding the Administration to accountable."

On Sally Jewell, the Administration's pick to replace Salazar, she said:

"If confirmed, Sally Jewell will have the immediate opportunity to put an end to this waste and inefficiency by common sense reforms, especially increasing the use of fertility control to keep wild horses on the range where they belong."

The lawmakers’ letter also asks Secretary Salazar to respond to the 25,130 Americans who signed and delivered a petition organized by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign in November calling on him to suspend the program until reforms could be put in place in the wake of revelations that the BLM sold 1,700 wild horses to a known kill buyer. As of February 13, Salazar has not responded to the petition.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 50 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come.