Tomorrow, November 5th, the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will be meeting in Portland Oregon. This group of supposed experts are supposed to advise the BLM on actions involving our wild horses and burro management and preservation. So far this sounds like a great program right? Wrong! The groups just seems to rubber stamp every action that the BLM proposes.
The group never seems to question any of the actions of BLM including the zeroing out of HMAs because of lack of resources all while approving additional livestock grazing in the same area. Not a single HMA gives the horses in the entire HMA what cattle and livestock are given in a single section. I guess this doesn't disturb the Advisory Board in the least. If it does, there is no record of it, but then again there is no recent minutes of their meetings for us to look at so we can see where they have asked for an explanation. I guess we can ask for that under the Freedom of Information Act, but we submitted a FOIA back in June and we are still waiting for that information to arrive. If we request this I am sure all the wild horses will be gone forever before we get any response. I guess the single keeper of information for the BLM is just overwhelmed with requests to find out what the hell is happening over there, but back to the Advisory Board. This group is entitled to documents and data not available to the public, so there is no reason why they should be floundering in the dark like those of us working to really protect these animals.
Most recently the BLM determined that the West Douglas HMA could only support 60 wild horses. We sent in comments stating that this number is well below genetic viability, but they had determined that the horses were the problem, not the thousands of cattle. Their biggest concern was for some possibly rare big horn sheep. It turns out these sheep were not rare, but they didn't return the wild horses, they didn't apologize to the public for their error. What did they do? Well, now they agree that 60 isn't genetically viable, they are zeroing out the herd area and REMOVING the horses. Did the Advisory Board do anything when the proposal was put forward to reduce the numbers? NO, they didn't. Are they screaming to leave the remaining horses who have now been genetically proven to be Spanish Mustangs? NO, they are not. This group of advocates, scientists and vets who all should know better than to agree to a reduction so far under genetic viability, but they just smile and give the BLM a thumbs up.
We can look at the make up of the group to find at least part of the answer. There is one person who is supposed to be a wild horse advocate, one humane person, a vet, a representative of the public, 2 livestock managers, a wildlife manager (read wildlife to read game animals), natural resource manager (read game here too) and a wild horse and burro researcher. No other BLM advisory board has so many opponents of the animal they are advising on. There are no wild horse advocates on the grazing advisory group, it is mostly made up of livestock supporters. Yet, this group is not and the election of the positions is set by policy and they will not even accept the nomination of a wild horse advocate to fill the position of one of the livestock advocates.
This group is woefully inadequate for protecting our wild horses and burros. Mostly because the majority of the members are hell bent on seeing every wild horse and burro off of the lands that ranchers see as theirs. Well, it isn't theirs and the public needs to start asking the hard questions about what is happening to their land and their horses. Frankly, it is illegal under the Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act to zero out herds, to give away land that was set aside for their preservation and the BLM should be held accountable for these acts. Obviously complaining to the BLM or trying to appeal to their better nature is not working. We need to be asking Congress to investigate the waste, fraud and abuse of public funds, resources and trust. A single complaint to the President resulted in a horrific policy change in veteran's burials. We need thousands of complaints about the BLM and the Advisory Board to see a policy change there.
You may say I don't own a horse, don't know much about them. Well, actually yes you do own a horse. Every one of us owns the American Mustangs and Burros. If you want to learn more about the issues affecting them read this blog.
It is our right and responsibility to ensure these horses and burros are kept safe and on the lands that they are entitled to. Otherwise they will all be gone.