It seems that everyday I hear about more and more inhumanity towards our horses. I often wonder if there is just some room somewhere that cruel people sit to figure out new and different ways to torment horses. In addition to slaughter, we are also watching our wild horses disappear from the wild and soon they will be extinct in the wild.
In December of 1993 reporter Keith Rodgers reported about the BLM cutting wild horse areas in half. In the report I found something very frightening. It states But wild horse activist Michael Blake, author of "Dances With Wolves," has contended that the BLM inflates wild horse figures so it can continue to remove the animals from public lands. A private survey that Blake commissioned found only 8,300 wild horses in Nevada. This means that in 1993 the wild horse numbers were substantially lower than even previously thought. (BLM estimated wild horse numbers in Nevada to be around 25,000 in 1993.) If these numbers are correct, we could face the extinction of our wild horses much sooner than previously thought. We know that there are now more of our mustangs in governmental holding pens than in the wild. Did you know that the BLM says that 2,700 is an appropriate level of wild burros? At this level any other species would be on the endangered list. At the current rate of removals of burros we could see them vanish from the wild completely before you could even plan a vacation to see them (if you could even find them).
As bad as all that is, the Fish and Wildlife Service would like to see every single wild horse and burro removed from their managed areas. Recently the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge attempted to remove the majority of the wild horses from their park (which borders a BLM herd management area). Through public outcry and a threatened lawsuit from In Defense of Animals they said they intended to hold off on all removals. However, they are once again planning a removal and the date for comments is looming large over us. The date for all comments to be received is next Wednesday September 26th. The contractor they are planning to use is the same one used in 2006 that left foals tied on the range for days and horses were pushed so hard that they ran over each other. Much of this abuse was covered up and we have no way of knowing how many animals were destroyed in the park to cover up even more "problems" to hide them from the public. There are no plans for having a vet onsite during the removals and the current plan calls for leaving the decision to destroy animals with the contractor or manager.
We need EVERYONE to respond to the newest Draft Plan by next Wednesday. Even if you are unsure of what to say or feel that you have no experience in responding, your comments are needed. Please do not think that the responses of the wild horse groups or humane groups will suffice, they won't. If it had not been for the large numbers of responses they received last time we would have seen more than half of the wild horses removed from the park this year. For us to stop this plan we will need even more responses. Please try to keep your responses polite and matter-of-fact. Just politely state (in your own words please) that you feel the removal of horses during foaling season is inhumane, the use of the same contractors is not warranted due to the apparent abuses in 2006, that the use of paid agents to find homes for the horses has not worked in the past due to many horses from Sheldon being found in slaughter feedlots, due to the complaints in 2006 that there should be a vet and independent oversight by humane groups onsite during the removals and to make life and death decisions, that the park should consider the use of PZP ONLY for population control and that the park reevaluate the number of horses and burros the park can manage. Send your comments by mail to Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 111, Lakeview, Oregon 97630 and by email to Sheldon-Hart@fws.gov. Remember all comment must be received by Wednesday September 26, 2007.
On a related topic there is a planned removal in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. They are doing a removal "because they have always done one like this". They have not filed an Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental Assessment. The current plan calls for the horses to be removed and sent directly to an auction where they will more than likely be picked up by kill buyers and shipped to slaughter in Canada. The park manager says that they maintain wild horses in the park for tourists, but she and the wildlife biologist know nothing about the horses and don't care to know about them. We contend that any removals done without the proper paperwork or public comment is not legal, no matter how they have always done it. You can call the park and register your comments by calling 701-623-4466.
Since both of these situations need every response we can get please pass along this info to family and friends. Also, please consider donating to AHDF so that we can continue to provide these alerts and allow us to do whatever we can to protect horses. The AHDF focuses on just horses so that we can focus our expertise and attention on the issues related to equine.