Future of Public Lands and Wild Horses Topics at Ryan Zinke’s Interior Secretary Confirmation Hearing

January 19, 2017
At a three-hour confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior, fielded a wide range of questions spanning many issues from climate change and energy development to national monuments and tribal sovereignty.

The most significant questions posed to Rep. Zinke were over the future of our public lands themselves. As the top official at the Department of the Interior, which manages over 500 million acres of public land (one-fifth of all the land in the United States), Zinke will play a key role in determining whether those public lands remain in federal hands for all Americans to enjoy, or whether they will be sold off to states, or even to private corporations, as some in Congress are pushing for.
On this issue, Rep. Zinke was definitive: “I am absolutely against transfer or sale of public land,” he said.

This is good news for wild horse advocates, because the transfer of public lands to states would spell disaster for our mustangs and burros, particularly in those states that have been pushing for mass roundups and slaughter of these national icons.
Newly elected Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) questioned Rep. Zinke specifically about wild horses, asking what he will do to address the humane management of these animals under the Bureau of Land Management’s jurisdiction. You can see his answer in the exchange below.

We are grateful to Senator Masto for stressing the importance of humane management of wild horses and burros. We agree with Rep. Zinke that the current system is not working and are encouraged by his willingness to work together to find solutions. Although we are concerned about some aspects of Rep. Zinke's record on horse welfare, we look forward to educating him about win-win solutions that are currently available to protect wild horses and humanely manage them in the wild.

In the clip below, Rep. Zinke stresses his pragmatic side and interest in working with anyone who is "mission focused."

We take Rep. Zinke at his word and will do our best to convince him that humane, publicly acceptable solutions are available for the humane management of America’s wild horses and burros. We look forward to the opportunity to educate Rep. Zinke on the American public’s strong support for these legacy animals and strong opposition to the cruel practice of horse slaughter.

Ultimately, if confirmed, Rep. Zinke will serve in the Cabinet of Donald Trump, who was elected on promises to “Make America Great Again” and turn government back to the people. It is our hope that this new Administration will honor the will of the American people to protect wild horses and burros instead of slaughtering these national symbols of America’s enduring strength and greatness.

We will need the help of all horse advocates in the weeks and months ahead to let our elected and appointed officials in Washington know where the American people stand on the protection of wild horses and burros. The threats to their future existence are very real, so stand ready, stand strong, and stay tuned!