Horse Advocates Continue Fight With BLM

Typical view of an Icelandic horse round-up. Courtesy/AWA                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Animal Wellness Action News:

  • New filing addresses ongoing concerns with wild horse management abuses

A coalition of wild horse and animal protection organizations continues to press its case against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and its dangerous and expansive 10-year roundup plan for the Pancake Complex in central Nevada.

Additional briefing in federal district court was filed Friday, April 1, by Animal Wellness Action (AWA), CANA Foundation (CANA) and Wild Horse Education (WHE) to demonstrate how a lack of actual management planning fails to protect wild horses from industrial encroachment, loss of genetic viability and even from harm during capture.

The agency repeatedly moves directly to roundup plans and skips the Herd Management Area Plan (HMAP) outlined in current policy, shirking any reasonable attempt to manage wild horses and not just remove them.

“The BLM’s radical assault on our iconic American wild horses and burros is one of the greatest injustices we’ve seen brought by the federal government in modern history,” AWA Executive Director Marty Irby said. “This country was built on their backs, and they should be allowed to roam freely on public lands dedicated specifically for the wild horses and burros – it’s an affront to see the Agency continue to eradicate them simply for wealthy cattle ranchers to be subsidized with cheap grazing lands all on the taxpayer’s dime.”

“The BLM is using outdated science for what little if any management planning they do,” CANA Foundation Founder Manda Kalimian said. “Climate change is real. The BLM’s lack of proper management, or a plan for the range along with modern science and rewilding methods are a major contributor to climate change and the destruction of our range, not our wild horses. They have been the scapegoat for the government’s agenda.”

“This program remains unaccountable to the taxpayer and the public resource,” WHE President Laura Leigh said. “Everything on public lands has a site-specific plan for management (that allows full participation by the stakeholder) except wild horses. BLM simply removes wild horses and creates removal plans, not management plans. This is irresponsible and needs to end.”

The ongoing arguments in this case highlight the injuries and deaths arising from the BLM’s campaign of mass roundups. During the first capture operation under the BLM 10-year “gather plan” there were 26 deaths.

One of the tragic instances included a young colt that was run in the slippery thawing range, lagged behind and then her leg snapped in a horrific break. This incident is mentioned in the Wild Horse Protection Act of 2022, which mandates roundups by helicopter cease and the Government Accounting Office (GAO) be tasked with completing a review of current practices and determining methods for management that consider the safety of wild horses and burros first and foremost. The bill, HR 6635, was introduced into Congress by Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.).

The organizations addressing these matters through litigation also support efforts to address these issues through multiple channels including legislation.

“The Wild Horse and Burro program has needed real reform for a very long time,” Leigh said. “We remain united in our commitment to achieve progress through all avenues available. Our treasured wild horses and burros deserve no less.”

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