Statement of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign BLM Advisory Board Meeting, March 4, 2013


Statement of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

BLM Advisory Board Meeting, March 4, 2013

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


I am Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. I speak today on behalf of our parent organization Return to Freedom, our more than 50 coalition partners, as well as the Campaign’s tens of thousands of supporters throughout the U.S. and the world.

For decades, the Bureau of Land Management has mismanaged the federal wild horse program, and now the agency is facing the economic reality of the mess it has created.

The BLM has spent its resources to round up and remove and stockpile wild horses in government holding facilities. Only a tiny fraction of the budget has been spent to manage horses on the range. Safe, humane and proven birth control technology -- available for more than two decades -- has been given scant attention.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar promised reform but delivered more of the same. Under his tenure, the BLM has removed 37,000 wild horses from public lands in the West. The agency now stockpiles an astounding 50,000 wild horses in government holding facilities. That’s far more wild horses than remain free on the range.

There is no question about the endgame of this unsustainable and irrational approach to wild horse management. It is slaughter . . . to force a crisis in which slaughter becomes the only possible economic solution.

And now the BLM has run out of room to house captured mustangs. The crisis is at hand.

And so we meet today in Oklahoma, a state that is on the road to legalizing horse slaughter; a state where 22,000 captured wild horses are warehoused.

Americans don’t eat horses. Americans overwhelmingly oppose horse slaughter. And we don’t believe that killing 50,000 formerly wild, federally-protected mustangs is the solution to the government’s mismanagement woes.

Now the agency will deny that this is the goal. But it’s already happened with the sale of “truckload after truckload” of captured mustangs to a known kill buyer, Tom Davis. How can the BLM guarantee that no federally protected wild horses will ever again end up being brutally slaughtered when it continues to sell wild horses for as little as $10 a piece? It can’t.

Today we call on the Congress, Interior Secretary designate Sally Jewell and the BLM to endorse and implement a five-point plan to right the sinking ship that is the federal wild horse program. We are calling this approach SURGE to Save America’s Wild Horses and Burros.

  1. Stop the roundups: Manage wild horses on the range. The number of horses removed should NEVER exceed adoption demand.
  2. Utilize birth control: It costs far less and avoids the bloodshed of the current roundup-remove-and-stockpile approach. And it works, if properly implemented. Please do not throw out this approach on the basis of one confounding, unpublished pen trial. The only published research on two-year PZP vaccine shows 94 % efficacy in the first year and 86% efficacy in the second year. That’s published data.
  3. Repeal the Burns Amendment that allows the BLM to sell horses for as little as $10 a piece and invites the slaughter of these national icons.
  4. Give wild horses a fairer share of resources in designated Herd Management Areas. Modest adjustments to livestock grazing could easily accommodate the current wild horse population in the West.
  5. Ease holding crisis by repatriating captured horses to zeroed out Herd Areas. Many of these areas have viable habitat and should be utilized.

This is a solvable issue.

We stand ready to work with the BLM to implement this approach to humanely and cost-effectively manage America’s wild horses and burros on the range, where they belong.

Thank you for your time.