Monday, August 10, 2009

Presented to the Wild Horse and Burro BrainStorming Session put on last July by the HSUS; Presented by:

607 Eleventh Street #2
Cody, Wyoming 82414-3064
Phone: (307) 587-3353

July 15, 2008

Wild Horse and Burro Brainstorming Session
HSUS Conference Room
2100 L Street, N.W., 5th Floor
Washington, DC

Brainstorming Session Participants:

The gravity of the current situation for federal wild horses and burros leads me to write candidly. I hope that those of you who are earnestly trying to mend a broken agency and a dysfunctional program, from the inside, will forgive me. However, since we are limited to one comment and one idea, I shall ask you to consider an entirely new vision for the Wild Horse and Burro Program, currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

My one principal suggestion is to reorganize this program under an entirely new agency or sub-agency, that is, displacing the BLM but retaining employees, from within, who have shown a particularly high quality of professional performance and humaneness. In general, however, the BLM, with its utilitarian leanings, has been the wrong agency for the job, from Day One, with internal conflict of interest that has lingered for 37 years, and mounting contamination from special interests and commercial enterprises. In the process, wild horses and burros became the last consideration, not a mix of considerations. Long-term holding and suggestions of euthanasia and gelding are at the pinnacle of agency failures… disregarding scientific application of immunocontraceptive control (native porcine zona pellucida) and showing no respect for wild free-roaming horses as a native wildlife species… now irrefutably proven to be the case. Why is it that the National Park Service can safely and effectively control wild horse populations, with PZP, in balance with their ecosystems, and the BLM cannot? The answer is “agency culture.” The BLM works closely with USDA-APHIS, an agency that considers wild horses pests… ripe for removal or eradication. PZP use is far too gentile a practice for population management. Thus, it is unfairly ridiculed. Recently, the BLM put out Web pages on wild horse and burro fertility control, overflowing with numerous factual errors:

The ability of the BLM to protect and manage these animals is corroded beyond repair. If the federal Wild Horse and Burro Program is to continue, this agency must be removed. This transformation would require an amended federal statute (the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 1971) and a reformed Code of Federal Regulations under Title 43: Public Lands: Interior, PART 4700-PROTECTION, MANAGEMENT, AND CONTROL OF WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS. The BLM has abused its right, for far too many years, to protect and manage this nation’s wild horses and burros. Control, and now lethal methodologies, are on its list of priorities. It has abused animals, under its care, by population mismanagement, excessive gathers, holding, and the failed adoption program; allowed its own employees to be harassed and maligned; ignored illegal behavior within the agency; bowed to commercial agricultural and extractive industry interests; and turned its head when its own scientists and wild horse specialists have pleaded for a better means of population control and humane treatment.

The only way to save this program is to return currently impounded wild horses and burros to original home ranges (Herd Areas), where feasible… given to them by federal statute, within the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. However, I see the BLM fighting this until the cows come home. The agency rarely supports its own wild horses and burros but cooperates with those holding a negative attitude. It disregards the unlawful domination and control of politically muscular individuals, like Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, who forced through a consent decree to bring Wyoming herds down to AML, when holding facilities were already bulging. Kleppe v. New Mexico (1976) thwarted states’ rights over wild horse ownership and management (as determined through case law by the U.S. Supreme Court), but the BLM allowed this action to proceed.

In blunt terms, the BLM does not “get it,” never will “get it,” and, under its supervision, the program will simply disintegrate and die, without intervention by Congress and amended wild horse law. I do not believe that continued BLM management is what the American people wish for its wild free-roaming horses and burros. Wild horses are a reintroduced native wildlife species but are being treated (herded/impounded) like livestock, with no consideration for their wildness and evolutionarily crafted behavior as a sensitive prey species.

My one suggestion… in summary? Save these animals from the BLM, NOW, by legally removing them from this agency’s egregious management and questionable behavior, and setting up a whole new, creative style of management, protection, and control in a free-roaming state, under new management. ALL (or most) of the current problems would be solved by this one mega-shift… combined with an entirely new organizational and legal structure under alternative agency oversight. IT IS POSSIBLE. Failure should never be rewarded with simply more funding, to patch up an agency’s past mistakes and miscalculations. It is time for the BLM to go…

Thank you for the opportunity to give you my point of view. This is an open document and may be shared freely.

With Best Regards,

Patricia M. Fazio, Ph.D.
Statewide Coordinator

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