Recently the text for the bill HR 1018 was released. I was so happy I could dance, it actually took EVERY suggestion made by the advocates and put them into a bill that I thought, while not perfect, it was pretty close. Now I am getting calls and emails from people who actually think that the bill is bad and have decided not to support it without reading the darn thing. They focused on something they THINK they see and instead of sitting down to digest it or even ask questions they have begun to attack it.
Please excuse my language but "What the He** are you thinking?" Does anyone think for a second that Rahall and Grijalva have any designs on destroying the horses? Does anyone really think for a second that I would actually go along with it if they did?
Ok, now that I have that out of my system, let's look at this thing logically and like mature adults. I will go point by point over a few points to show why this is a good bill and why it deserves to be fully supported by the equine community. Then everyone can read the rest. I would suggest taking a copy of the current bill and setting it next to the existing one.
Currently the bill says "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." Now read it with the change. "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 as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands."
As one can see, this doesn't limit where they can be located opening up every inch of public lands to them.
The next part makes that clear when it strikes the part about exceeding their territorial limits and where it adds (7) Identify new, appropriate rangelands for wild free-roaming horses and burros, including use of land acquisitions, exchanges, conservation easements, and voluntary grazing buyouts, and negotiate with private landowners to allow for the federally supervised protection of wild horses and burros on private lands.
Then it puts ALL of the horses and burros under the Secretary to prevent that pesky little thing they do about only the ones under the BLM are entitled to protection. It also says that they consider outside resources and those SHALL (no longer making it an option but a command) be outside of the BLM, which includes Craig Downer and Dr Gus Cothran.
The bill prohibits the use of helicopters for use in rounding up horses and burros, which the original bill intended. The bill prohibits the euthanasia of healthy animals, and it doesn't allow for the commercial sale of the horses. It also says that the Department of Interior will do follow up inspections to ensure that the law isn't being broken by those trying to slide through the loopholes.
Another thing the bill does is prevent horses from being removed and never returned to the range. (h) If the immediate health or safety of wild free-roaming horses or burros is threatened, such as in severe drought conditions, the Secretary shall temporarily remove animals from the range. (Emphasis added)
I can go on and on but I think that I made my point. Sorry if this comes off snappy but I KNOW the intent and I KNOW how hard so many of us worked on this to make sure that it covered as many problems as we could in a single bill. It is a pain to have so many make snap judgments on what this part means and what that part means, especially without reading the darn thing. I have already heard from Rahall's office that some groups have already come out and said that they won't support the bill because "it took away their protections". I sincerely hope that everyone will settle down and truly read the bill now with an open mind. Many of us worked REALLY hard on making this bill a reality.