BLM's "new direction" for wild horse management won't curtail 2010 roundups
June 4, 11:02 PMEquine Advocacy ExaminerMaureen Harmonay
Following the playbook written by its recently hired "conflict resolution" consultant, Kearns & West, the BLM has just announced a lofty-sounding set of goals to guide its future wild horse management practices. In a press release issued yesterday, BLM Director Bob Abbey pronounced that "it's a new day, and we need a fresh look at the Wild Horse and Burro Program."
Mr. Abbey said that going forward, BLM will no longer consider the euthanasia of healthy "excess" wild horses, and will not sell them "without limitation," in an effort to protect them from going to slaughter. That's quite a turnaround from past policies. Within just the last decade, former BLM Director Pat Shea rubber-stamped the concept of using euthanasia as a way of keeping the numbers of "excess" captive wild horses at a manageable level.
Mr. Abbey's openness to a new approach suggests that further changes may be coming. The BLM chief has agreed to open discussions about some heretofore controversial topics, including the potential reintroduction of wild horses or burros into herd areas where they currently don't exist; increased use of fertility controls or other methods to slow population growth; making more forage available for wild horse and burro use; the establishment of preserves to care for unadopted wild horses; the designation of selected wild horses and burros as "treasured herds"; and the placement of more "excess" horses and burros into private care.
The new strategies that Mr. Abbey is proposing sound promising, but wild horse advocates are taking his words with a grain of salt, waiting for the opportunity to state their case for the cessation of the roundups and the return of already-captured wild horses to their rightful Herd Management Areas (HMAs). They will have a chance to do so at the upcoming two-day workshop and public meeting of the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board on June 14-15 in Denver.
The bad news is that BLM intends to proceed with the schedule of wild horse roundups or "gathers" that it has already announced. Through the end of 2010 alone, the agency plans to sweep at least 7500 more wild horses from their native ranges in seven western states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. Many of these roundups will be spearheaded by helicopter stampedes, run by the same contractor whose ruthless collection methods were directly responsible for the deaths of many foals and mares from the Calico Mountain Complex earlier this year.