Pat Raia exposes BLM’s plans to suppress wild horse population


Cross-posted from The Horse for educational purposes:

BLM Seeks Ideas on Wild Horse Management

By Pat Raia
Jan 29, 2014

While the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking ideas for managing its wild horse and burro population, some critics maintain that the agency has failed to appropriately implement previously suggested herd management methods.

The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 charges the BLM with managing wild horses and burros residing west of the Mississippi River. The agency currently manages more than 40,000 wild horses and burros in 10 Western states; another 50,000 animals reside in BLM long- and short-term care facilities.

In 2010, the BLM asked the independent nonprofit National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review technical aspects of the wild horse and burro program and to make recommendations for future management techniques. The $1.5 million study began in 2011, and results were released in 2013.

In it’s report, NAS said the population of wild horses under BLM care on Western public rangelands increases by an unsustainable 15% to 20% annually. The report also said the BLM has not used scientifically rigorous methods to estimate wild horse and burro populations on each range, or to model the effects of management actions. Finally, the report said the BLM failed to effectively use contraception tools, specifically porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccines for mares and a chemical vasectomy vaccine in stallions, to achieve appropriate population control.

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said the agency issued a request for information (RFI) in October 2013 intended to alert veterinarians, scientists, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and other researchers of the BLM’s need to develop innovative techniques and protocols for implementing population growth-suppression methods.

“Specifically, the BLM is interested in finding experts to develop or to refine current techniques and protocols for either the contraception or spaying/neutering of on-range male and female wild horses,” Gorey said.

The submission deadline for ideas in response to the RFI was Dec. 1, 2013, and the agency has received 14 responses, Gorey said. Meanwhile, the BLM intends to allocate $1.5 million from its fiscal year 2014 budget in connection with an upcoming request for applications for spay/neuter and contraception study proposals, which the BLM intends to issue by March 1, Gorey said.

Gorey said the agency remains committed to making substantial improvements to the wild horse and burro program: “The development and use of more effective methods to reduce population growth rates will lessen the need to remove animals from the range. This will be better for the animals and is needed to improve the health of public rangelands, conserve wildlife habitat, and save taxpayers money.”

But BLM’s critics aren’t sure the agency’s actions will yield a long-term solution to wild horse and burro herd growth issues. Some wild horse advocates believe BLM roundups not only violate the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, but harm animals as well. That’s why Anne Novak, executive director of the wild horse advocacy group Protect the Mustangs, believes the BLM should stop using roundups to manage herd populations.

“We need a moratorium on roundups so (the horses’) birthrate can go back to normal, and we need a policy to be based on science and not on quick fixes for an alleged overpopulation problem,” opined Novak. “Meanwhile we can perform scientific studies on how to utilize native wild horses for holistic land management.”

Jay F. Kirkpatrick, PhD, a wildlife population control specialist and director of the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Mont., said he’s also proposed ways for the BLM to control its herd populations in the past. Kirkpatrick said he advised the BLM to, during each roundup, inoculate with the native PZP vaccine all mares returning to the range. Though the vaccine’s effects do not always last for more than a year, he said, he believes a single shot could have a dramatic effect on reproduction in year one and residual effects in following years.

“If they simply held those mares two weeks and gave them a booster shot before releasing them, the effects would be even more dramatic,” Kirkpatrick opined. “Regardless, the next time they rounded-up horses, the primer-treated mares would get a booster, new horses (would get) a primer, and the effects (would) get greater; after four to five roundups, the reduction in foals would have been significant.”

Kirkpatrick said that, for various reasons, the BLM has not implemented his proposal.

Ultimately, said Attorney Bruce Wagman, who represents wild horse advocates, whatever decision the BLM makes should have horses’ best interests in mind.

“I certainly think that the BLM should be looking to the greater horse welfare community and those who have studied the BLM’s administration of the wild horse program for years for input,” Wagman said. “We have been trying to get BLM to do that for years.”


Breaking News: Protesters want to end native wild horse abuse and use mustangs to fight wildfires

PM Wildland Fire Risk 2013

Wildfire risk potential version 2013, data origin & source: USDA Forest Service


For immediate release:

More than 40 international protests today to stop the roundups and stop horse slaughter

OAKLAND, Ca. (April 27, 2013)–Protect Mustangs™, the Bay Area-based native wild horse conservation group, is holding protests today in Oakland and Rock Springs, Wyoming to save indigenous wild horses from roundups, abuse, slaughter and pass the SAFE Act. The Oakland rally is held outside the Rockridge BART station from 3:30 to 6 p.m. The Rock Springs rally is held at 70 Gateway Blvd at 2 p.m. The group wants all the wild horses in government funded holding to be returned to the range to help reduce wildfires. More than 40 international protests, spearheaded by Nevada’s Patty Bumgarner on Facebook, are being held to save the horses. Protect Mustangs™ requests Congress stop the cruelty, the slaughter and save taxpayer dollars–especially during the Sequester.

“We are united across the country to say no to slaughter, roundups and cruel overectomies in the field,” states Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs™. “We want our wild horses to be protected. Did you know America’s wild horses are indigenous? Are you aware that CalTrans found ancient horse fossils while digging the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel?”

The horse, E. caballus, originated in America over a million years ago and returned with the Conquistadors if it ever went extinct in the first place. With history written by the Inquisition, one must read between the lines. It was heresy for Old World animals, such as the horse, to have originated in the heathen Americas.

Novak points out,”Recent DNA testing proves our iconic wild horses are the same species as E. caballus–the original horse.”

Esteemed scientists Kirkpatrick, J.F., and P.M. Fazio explained the following in Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife (Revised January 2010). The Science and Conservation Center, ZooMontana, Billings:

‘The key element in describing an animal as a native species is (1) where it originated; and (2) whether or not it co‐evolved with its habitat. Clearly, E. 6 caballus did both, here in North American. There might be arguments about ‘breeds,’ but there are no scientific grounds for arguments about ‘species.’

The non‐native, feral, and exotic designations given by agencies are not merely reflections of their failure to understand modern science but also a reflection of their desire to preserve old ways of thinking to keep alive the conflict between a species (wild horses), with no economic value anymore (by law), and the economic value of commercial livestock.’

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) received $78 million last year to run the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Two-thirds of the expenses went towards caring for the equids in captivity. Despite the federal budget crisis, the program received a $2 million increase in funding for their 2014 fiscal budget–including $6 million for the helicopter contractor.

California’s Senator Feinstein chairs Energy and Water subcommittee as well as rules on Interior issues within the Committee on Appropriations. The Committee gives taxpayer dollars to fiscally irresponsible and cruel wild horse and burro roundups despite public outcry.

Roundups and removals are linked to mining and toxic fracking in the West. It appears native horses are being removed to fast track the extractive industry’s use of public land for private profit yet the public and the environment are hit with the costs.

Native wild horses will soon be zeroed out from Wyoming’s “checkerboard” public-private land–allegedly in preparation for the largest natural gas field in the country. The conservation group has requested a $50 million fund be created to mitigate environmental distress from fracking on the range.

“Tourists love to come to Wyoming to see our wild horses,” states Melissa Maser, outreach coordinator for Protect Mustangs™ in Wyoming and Texas. “We’d like to see native wild horses protected for future generations.”

Advocates are documenting wild horses being removed throughout the West as healthy and with fewer foals. The starving and overpopulation myths from BLM spin doctors are fabricated to sway Congress to fund roundups and removals.

“We’d like to find a win-win for wild horses in the West,” explains Novak. “Native horses will help reduce wildfires that cost insurance companies billions of dollars annually and contribute to global warming. We have requested the BLM put a freeze on roundups and return the 50,000 wild horses stockpiled in holding to public land. This will take the burden off the taxpayer and help to reduce wildfires.”

Protect Mustangs™ is devoted to protecting native wild horses. Their mission is to educate the public about the indigenous wild horse, protect and research American wild horses on the range and help those who have lost their freedom.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Anne Novak, 415.531.8454 Anne@Protect

Kerry Becklund, 510.502.1913

Photos, video and interviews available upon request

Links of interest:

Gone viral~ The Associated Press, February 10, 2013: Wild-horse advocates split over interior nominee

US property exposed to wildfire valued at $136 billion says report:

KQED Horse fossil found in Caldecott Tunnel:

Gone viral~ The Associated Press, March 24, 2013: Budget axe nicks BLM wild-horse adoption center

Horseback Magazine: Sequester prompts call for wild horses and burros to be returned to the wild

Horseback Magazine, March 8, 2013: Protect Mustangs calls for fund for Wyoming wild horses

Horseback Magazine: Group takes umbridge at use of the word “feral”

Ruby pipeline and wild horse roundups?

BLM’s 2014 Budget:

Why are the wild horses being removed?

Wyoming Tourism’s video of wild horses:

Protect Mustangs™:

Protect Mustangs™ on Facebook

Protect Mustangs™ on Twitter

Protect Mustangs™ on YouTube

Protect Mustangs™ in the News

Information on native wild horses: