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Unified Moratorium Letter: Over 195 organizations, authors and celebrities (Sheryl Crow, Viggo Mortensen, Lily Tomlin, Bill Maher, Michael Blake and others) are calling for an immediate moratorium on roundups. The Restore our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act has passed the house and is currently in the Senate awaiting a vote as the BLM rushes forward. A moratorium is being requested to stop the roundups until the American public works with Congress to further craft a sustainable plan for herd management—one that protects and preserves wild herds on public lands in the West.

Key Points from the Cloud Foundation

  • The horses are not starving or overrunning their range—these are falsities pushed by the BLM and refuted over and over again as they repeatedly round up healthy horses and independent observers have years of footage and photographs to disprove this.
  • Wild horse herds do not double every four years—BLM constructs herd numbers which sometimes jump 400% from one year to the next
  • There are more wild horses are in captivity than in the wild.
  • Few herds left in the wild are genetically viable (meaning over 150 adults allowing for herd to sustain itself)
  • It costs the American taxpayers over $100,000 a day to feed the 34,0000 wild horses the government has removed from the range.
  • Wild horses are adopted out in small numbers each year but the adoption demand is far lower than the number removed.
  • Adding additional wild horses to an already overburdened situation is simply unacceptable
  • BLM statements last year regarding the lack of funds to feed the horses already in holding and their legal authority to euthanize them, the BLM continues to remove wild horses from their legally designated homes on the range.
  • Given the extreme cost to American taxpayers and the irreversible actions of removing over 12,000 wild horses and burros in FY2010, moving forward without a current inventory (as legally mandated) is unacceptable.
    • The 1971 Act preserves wild horses and burros in over 300 areas of publicly owned rangeland in the west, forbidding their exploitation, harassment and removal. Regardless, only 30 million acres remain of the 54 million acres designated primarily for wild horse use in 1971. Over 100 herds have been  completely removed by the BLM and most remaining herds are too small to insure their long-term survival. The BLM's current policy of eradicating these herds is a betrayal of the wishes of the American public.

 

MORE BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195)

Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the loves of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.  It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

- The original Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Public Law 92-195) allocated 54 million acres and 303 Herd Management Areas (HMA’s) for wild horses and burros

- 111 HMA’s covering 24 million acres have been zeroed since 1971

- At least 75% the remaining herd area target populations (set by the BLM) are set at levels that will not ensure genetic viability (based on 150 adult animals being a viable herd)

- Protecting the ecological balance of all wildlife has never meant rounding up and removing whole species, especially when there is a law that explicitly protects their right to exist in historic herd areas.

- The BLM is not following this Act and America’s wild mustangs are being managed to extinction.

  • With this act the Bureau of Land Management was charged with the management of America’s Wild Horses and Burros.
  • However the BLM has never wanted wild horses on the range and has managed them with this goal

 

 

Restore Our American Mustang (ROAM) Act

Currently in the Senate Energy & Natural Resources committee after passing Congress earlier this year

The Cloud Foundation could support a modified version of the ROAM Act if revisions were made

  • Originally HR 1018, passed House in 2009- sponsored by Congressman Rahall (D-WV)

Introduced to Senate on August 5, 2009 and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, currently in subcommittee – now Senate Bill 1579

-modifies Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971

- Supports returning wild horses and burros to the HMA’s where they have been zeroed out

- Allows more horses and burros to roam on the range lands they originally inhabited in 1971 (but are now grazed by cattle) thus costing less tax payer money for gathering, processing, transporting and caring for the horses

- Supports the use of contraceptives

- Demands more accurate record keeping on the number of wild horse and burro populations

- Proposes to create sanctuaries or exclusive areas for use by the wild horse and burro

- Supports maintaining riparian zones, water quality and native wildlife within the wild horse and burro range lands

- Supports expanding the current adoption program by conducting tours of BLM facilities, providing more information to potential adopters (more information available via the web), developing mentor compliance programs, public outreach, offer economic incentives to successful adopters.

- Proposes using low stress handling methods during roundups, as well as, tracking the number of wild horses and burros injured or killed during roundups.

-removes language of “where presently found” regarding protecting wild horses and burros- this could result in additional lands being opened to wild horse use as well as the removal of horses and burros from legally designated areas.

 

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s Plan

The Cloud Foundation opposes this plan but appreciates acknowledgement that this program is in need of revision.

-announced on October 7, 2009

- Create national preserves and sanctuaries in the East and Mid-West by purchasing land and entering into private agreements with land owners

- Proposes to move 26,000 wild horses from holding facilities to preserves in the East and Mid West

- Costs the tax payer for transportation fees (more than simply leaving the horses and burros on the range lands)

-initial cost is $96 million- covers cost of only first two preserves.

-  Not any different than the current long term holding facilities – just a different location

- Proposes to skew sex ratios in the wild, causing significant social disruption in effort to depress reproduction. Remaining mares will reproduce at a greater rate (compensatory reproduction) to bring populations back to equilibrium.

- Create non-reproducing herds made up entirely of geldings (castrated males) in some legally designated wild horse herd areas. Completely destroys the balance of a wild horse herd

-Proposes to manage wild horses in only a few “treasured” herd management areas and those herds would also be aggressively managed with infertility drugs

- Only a matter of time before the wild horse and burro is completely eliminated from the range

-We do not support moving "wild" horses from the West to the East and Midwest, away from the environment in which they evolved.

-Health concerns from such a move:

  • Overgrown hooves without rocks -- who will trim the feet of these wild horses as there are few rocks and grit in the soils to wear their hooves down?
  • teeth could need to be floated without the natural wear of the roughage they eat in the wild
  • Horses could founder from too rich pastures
  • Insects and humidity will be a problem.

 

Case in point: Cloud's sister, Smokey, was removed from the Pryors and moved east to Tallahassee, Florida along with her sister, Mahogany. Smokey became thin although she had a wonderful pasture plus hay and the company of her sister. She rubbed holes in her once shiny black coat that turned into a dull, sun-bleached dirty brown. She had to have her mane roached as most of it was rubbed off. She was constantly on medications to deal with allergies from insect bites combined with high humidity. She now lives in Colorado where she is flourishing, her mane has grown in long and dark and her coat is black once again, and body condition are perfect, save for her somewhat overweight condition at present even on the rocky ground of my ranch at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Wild horses evolved into the swift running machines they have become, not in eastern and midwestern habitats, but on dry, open grasslands and upland montane regions in the west.

Case in point: we recently bought and adopted 15 horses--four bands---that were removed by BLM from their home in the Custer National Forest on the Pryor Mountains in September. Even though they are but 5 miles from their home on the mountain as the crow flies, we are considering moving them to an adjacent ranch pasture that is much rockier, rougher ground. Their feet are getting long on the pastures where they currently graze. These horses are wild, so the idea of trimming their feet by luring them into corrals and tranquilizing them becomes a potentially dangerous and costly operation. And these are but 15 horses, not thousands. Just some food for thought.

 

Government Accountability Office Investigations of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program

  • The BLM’s WH&B program has been investigated three times by the GAO
  • Called to again investigate the wild horse and burro program, the GAO missed a huge opportunity in 2007- when they failed to question why the BLM was failing and taking America’s wild horses and burrows with them.

Current Inventory of Wild Horses & Burros on the Range

Despite clear language in the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 which states that the Secretary [of the Interior] shall maintain a current inventory of wild horses and burros.

-Despite numerous calls from Senators, Congress people, organizations and the public the BLM is moving forward with massive removals based on dubious and outdated data.

-after the end of fiscal year 2009-2010 we’ll be down to just 40% of the 1974 wild herd populations according to current BLM numbers, independent analysis suggests far fewer

-According to BLM herd sizes nationally double every four years. This statistic has not been proven with census data and is discredited by herds observed and counted by independent groups.

The BLM estimates there currently are about 36,600 of the animals in the wild — about half in Nevada.

The national "appropriate management level" according to BLM is 26,600. BLM states this target level is based on a thorough scientific analysis that should stand any legal scrutiny (scientific data is not forthcoming and individual examples of this data fail initial scientific screening.

Range Degradation from Wild Horses

The BLM blames Wild horses for range damage and riparian damage not on the livestock that cause the most damage.

 

Public Lands Grazing

-sometimes referred to as “Welfare Ranching”

  • Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported:

federal government spends at least $144 million each year managing private livestock grazing on federal public lands,

  • but collects only $21 million in grazing fees
  • net loss of at least $123 million per year
  • economists have estimated that the federal public lands grazing on only BLM and Forest Service lands may cost as much as $500 million to $1 billion annually (wild earth guardians report)

- Wild horses account for less than 0.5% of large grazing animals on public lands

- 6 states have lost their entire wild horse and burro populations (ex: Texas used to have 1 million wild horses)

- BLM’s private livestock grazing program encompasses 214 million acres of public lands, operates at a loss of over $130 million annually and only provides 2-3% of our national beef supply

- Private livestock outnumber wild horses and burros at least 100 to 1 on public land (keeping in mind that some livestock may not be grazed year round)

- Current BLM grazing allotments need to be monitored more closely by BLM and independent groups.

- In many areas, the cattle overgraze BLM lands and the blame falls on the wild horses.

 

Management Techniques

Round ups

- Rounding up (BLM calls “gathering”) the wild horse herds is the primary means used to “manage” them

- Older horses NEED to be left on the range to live out their lives in freedom

- Older horses are harder to place in adoptive homes thus costing more money for their longterm care

-removing older horses who will be placed in long-term holding is both inhumane and fiscally irresponsible

- Younger animals are easier to place and more easily trained

- In 2008, less than 5% of BLM’s wild horse and burro program budget was allocated to herd management on the range, with the remaining 95% allocated to captures, short and long-term holding and placement

  • COST TO ROUNDUP/REMOVE A WILD HORSE: Removals cost an extraordinary amount based on average costs of $2,600 per horse to prepare them for short and long term holding, to costs in excess of $3,000 per horse to prepare them for the adoption program.  
  • Roughly half of the BLM budget goes to rounding horses up and the other half to feeding them as they wait on government welfare they never would have needed if ranges were managed properly.

Contraceptives

- According to the USGS, $7.7 million could be saved annually through the use of contraceptive measures alone- however the efficacy and humane application of this drug are in question

-Mares must be rounded up to receive contraceptives and then BLM removes hundreds and contracepts all mares released, often with a two-year drug still in the experimental stages.

- little to no monitoring of contracepted mares is done by BLM

-The Humane Society of the US is a major proponent of infertility controls and has 2 test herds (the Sandwash herd in Colorado and the Cedar Mountain herd in Utah).

- The manner in which the current contraceptive Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) used in the mares is NOT administered properly to achieve the desired outcome

- Foals are born out of season creating problems for both the mare and the foal

- abscessing and possible death can result

-increasingly inhumane and questionable drugs are being developed to achieve complete sterility in mares

-invasive external spaying of mares is being developed “oopherectomy” in which the ovaries are removed

-gelding of stallions without anesthesia is ongoing. Geldings (castrated males) stand in pain for weeks as a result.

 

Natural Management

- Natural balance of predator and prey were restored, the wild horse population would also be controlled

- The Montgomery Pass HMA in California has not been rounded up in 27 years and the horse population has stayed consistent due to natural predators, mostly mountain lions.

- The Pryor Mountain HMA in WY/MT was at 0% population growth from 2001-2004 before BLM managers paid and encouraged hunters to come and kill the cats who were not allowing for the 5% population growth required to continue the infertility drug experiment on the herd of unique Spanish horses.

 

Predator Control (facts courtesy of Wild Earth Guardians)

Secretary Salazar and BLM Director Bob Abbey say that wild horses have no predators, this is not true. Mountain lions, wolves and grizzlies kill horses. Problem is the gov’t kills the horses’ predators.

  • $5 - $8 million is dedicated to killing “predators” to protect livestock grazing on federal lands annually.
  • Native wildlife killed to protect livestock include coyotes, bobcats, wolves, mountain lions, and bears.
  • Number of predators Wildlife Services killed in sixteen western states (FY 2007): 71,196.
  • $10,303,903 was spent in the eleven western states with the most federal public land and federal public lands grazing.
  • Percent of Wildlife Services predator control budget spent to protect livestock on public lands: 75 percent.
  • Percent of predator control budget paid by ranchers: 1 percent.
  • Percent of cattle and calf losses attributed to predation (including dogs) (2005): 4.7 percent.
  • Percent of cattle and calf losses attributed to digestive problems, respiratory difficulties, calving complications, weather and other causes (2005): 95.3 percent.

 

Government Holding

-       Short Term Holding: feedlot like holding for horses.

-       Long Term Holding: Ten long-term holding pastures exist, primarily in Oklahoma and Kansas. Another 15,000 acre pasture is pending in Montana. About half of them are gelded herds. The others are mares. According to BLM “they live out their lives grazing peacefully and getting fat” Dean Bolstad, BLM. An additional long-term holding facility is the Canon City Penetentary where over 2000 older horses live in feedlot style conditions.

-       Taxpayers are paying well over $100,000 a day to feed over 32,000 incarcerated wild horses.

-       The longterm additional costs are incalculable as the vast majority of these animals will not be adopted. Instead they will be placed into leased holding facilities at a cost of $1-2 day (long term holding), and up to $5 per day (short term holding) for an unknown number of years based on the age of the horses when they enter the system. 

-       Costs were estimated at $100,000 per day to feed the over 30,000 wild horses already in these facilities – the 2010 roundups will add approximately 9,000 horses to holding

 

Wild Horse and Burro Adoption

Demand is far lower than the number of horses and burros removed each year although mustangs make wonderful companion and competition and working horses with the right training.

 

BLM Public Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board

  • The BLM National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board is stacked with special interests and does not represent the public.
  1. The board discusses only methods for removing horses – not managing for self-sustaining herds as the BLM is legally mandated to do as per the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act
  2. Recommendations include the creation of gelding herds, spaying of mares via external removal of ovaries, 3-year and permanent contraceptive drugs.
  3. Board has been stacked against the very animals under its Advisory powers for over a decade.
  4. Press and a considerable number of Wild Horse & Burro advocates are expected to attend

 

  • Legal Cases currently in Court to Protect America’s wild Horses and Burros
  1. In Defense of Animals and Wildlife Ecologist Craig Downer brought suit against the BLM in DC District Court to stop the Calico Mountain Wild Horse Complex roundup .This case is being brought against the BLM on the inhumanity of rounding up 2500 horses in the dead of a northern Nevada winter. The injunction was denied but Judge Paul L. Friedman suggested that the BLM delay the roundup and ordered that a lawsuit commense.
  2. The Cloud Foundation has an ongoing suit to protect the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses of Wyoming/Southern Montana. This case was brought to court to stop the roundup of the Pryor Herd in September 2009. Now the case is working to return the subpopulation of horses that was removed without notice to or approval of the public.
  3. The Cloud Foundation has a suit against the US Forest Service to expand the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range to encompass the horses’ historical use areas and areas they continue to use today.

 

Examples of BLM Mismanagement

  • the questionable legality of “zeroing out” entire herds of wild horses:
  1. BLM zeroed out 12 herds in Nevada in the summer/fall of 2009. 1.4 million acres could not sustain 640 horses as according to BLM WH&B Chief Don Glenn, “the land was no longer appropriate”. However, added livestock grazing leases will be issued on the very land the horses were removed from.
  2. According to wildlife biologist, Craig Downer, the wild horses in these herd areas were not in jeopardy, nor is the land upon which they roam.
  3. herds remaining in adjoining Nevada HMA’s will have or have had the size of the designated areas significantly reduced.- one by over 60,000 acres
  • Challis Roundup, July/August 2009- 7 horses died, 7 foals orphaned and range was in great condition
  • Sandwash Herd Roundup
  1. HSUS study herd but 5 horses were killed, run straight into trailers
  • Calico Planned Dead of Winter Removal in NW Nevada (see top for details)

Pryors Roundup 2009

  • Despite a National outcry and faulty reasoning for such a large removal, the roundup of Cloud’s herd (Pryor Mountain Wild Horses) took place September 3-9th, 2009
  • Roundup of world’s most famous wild horses drew a lot of attention and highlighted a rogue government agency’s mismanagement of a national historic treasure.
  • 146 horses were rounded up by helicopter
  • 57 horses, aged <1 month to over 21 years old were removed.
  • 4 family bands were removed completely
  • The Cloud Foundation rescued 15 horses and kept the older horses in these four bands together.
  • The horses are now at a ranch in Montana, reunited as families.
  • The Cloud Foundation brought a lawsuit against the BLM to prevent this roundup but should the court rule in the Foundation’s favor, then these horses can be returned to their home range
  • Removing a 19-year-old stallion at a cost of over $3000 does not make financial sense and destroys that horse’s life, putting it on public welfare and throwing them into a flooded horse market in a bad economy.
  • People came from around the country to protest and observe the roundup
  • The appointed and accepted independent humane observer was denied adequate access after the media left the roundup.
  • All 57 horses were adopted or sold. Most if not all went to good homes.
  • This roundup was scheduled so early in the fall in part due to “National Adoption Day” – with a goal of getting 1000 horses adopted
  1. Despite a million dollar grant, support from HSUS, months of planning and a media campaign, only about 400 horses were adopted.
  • the BLM called the Pryors Roundup “a model gather”.  If this poorly done, non-transparent, cruel roundup that was done too  early in the year and in which ten horses, age 11-21, were removed at a cost of $30,000 and foals were so sore they could barely walk and one mare tied up and another colicked and at least 4 horses on the mountain top (Cloud included) are still lame

Key Points from the Cloud Foundation

  • Adding additional wild horses to an already overburdened situation is simply unacceptable.-
  • BLM statements last year regarding the lack of funds to feed the horses already in holding and their legal authority to euthanize them, the BLM continues to remove wild horses from their legally designated homes on the range.
  • Given the extreme cost to American taxpayers and the irreversible actions of removing over 12,000 wild horses and burros in FY2010, moving forward without a current inventory (as legally mandated) is unacceptable.
  • The BLM is an out-of-control agency seeming to be working to exterminate America’s wild mustangs and burros from public lands in the west.
    • The 1971 Act preserves wild horses and burros in over 300 areas of publicly owned rangeland in the west, forbidding their exploitation, harassment and removal. Regardless, only 30 million acres remain of the 54 million acres designated primarily for wild horse use in 1971. Over 100 herds have been  completely removed by the BLM and most remaining herds are too small to insure their long-term survival. The BLM's current policy of eradicating these herds is a betrayal of the wishes of the American public.