Controversy over PZP

nt B:W


Know this

Ken Salazar’s Wild Horse Plan Fuels Accusations That He’s In The Pocket Of Ranchers, Associated Press, 2010:

Wildlife ecologist Craig Downer of Nevada accused Salazar, a former rancher, of acting on behalf of those who view mustangs as taking scarce forage away from their cattle herds. Downer contends cattle are more destructive to the range because they concentrate in high numbers around water sources instead of grazing over a wider area as wild horses do.

“Both the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have the right to remove livestock to ensure viable, healthy populations of wild horses. But they refuse to exercise that,” Downer said. “Their master is primarily these traditional ranching interests.”

Opposition grows to Salazar’s plan to move wild horses to Midwest preserves, Associated Press 2009

Horse defenders have stepped up their efforts in recent weeks, suing to block a proposed roundup of 2,700 horses in northern Nevada and lining up the support of celebrities such as Sheryl Crow, Lily Tomlin, Bill Maher and Ed Harris.

Crow took her concerns directly to Salazar in a telephone call this past week.

One of the first things he said was something must be done because the horses are starving. We (advocates) don’t believe it,” Crow said in an interview with The Associated Press.”

7 Preserves Envisioned to Manage Wild Horses, New York Times, 2009

“HELENA, Mont. — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday that he was proposing to create seven new wild-horse preserves, including one in the East and one in the Midwest, to address the problem of a growing population crowding the Western range.

The program, which also applies to wild burros, would expand the use of contraceptives and would geld more herds on public lands in the West, Mr. Salazar said.”

. . . ”

Yet the proposal quickly drew criticism from wild-horse advocates. Ginger Kathrens of Colorado Springs, a maker of documentary films who has chronicled the lives of a wild-horse herd in Montana, said that blocking reproduction could alter the animals’ behavior.

“It takes the wild out of wild-horse herds,” she said. “They’re families in sophisticated societies. Creating gelding herds and preventing them from reproducing is managing them toward extinction.”

But ranchers, who see wild horses as competing with cattle for grasses and water, welcomed the proposal. Jeff Eisenberg, executive director for the Public Lands Council, a group that works on public lands issues for ranchers, said Mr. Salazar’s proposal was a big step toward a solution.”

Sheryl Crow Slams Salazar’s Wild Horse Plan, Huffington Post 2010

With one voice we are insisting that our government stop managing these beautiful and important animals to extinction,” Crow said in a statement released by the Cloud Foundation, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based horse advocacy group”. . .

It’s time for all of us to speak up for our wild horses and burros so we do not lose these living legends and inspiring symbols of our freedom in America,” she said.

Madeleine Pickens praises Salazar wild horse plan, Horsetalk, 2009

“Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced wide-ranging proposals this week in which horses taken from the Western rangelands would be relocated to new preservation areas further east, utilising better quality grassland.

His plan includes the aggressive use of reproduction controls to manage numbers. Salazar hoped the new herd areas would provide tourism opportunities for nearby communities” . . .

Pickens said she would support Secretary Salazar’s efforts, and would gladly compete to offer the wild horse sanctuary that she has planned to the bureau as one of the facilities proposed by Secretary Salazar.”



“However, recent research in other populations has revealed behavioral and physiological side effects of long-term PZP use.”


Injection-Site Reactions in Wild Horses (Equus caballus) Receiving an Immunocontraceptive Vaccine, By James E. Roelle and Jason I. Ransom,

“Abnormal dart trauma included cases where the dart hit bone or the needle broke off. We found strong evidence (odds ratio = 5.023, P = 0.001) for a higher probability of occurrence of swelling when darts were delivered by blowgun. We found some evidence (odds ratio = 8.729, P = 0.07) that abnormal dart trauma led to a higher frequency of nodule formation. Nodules were the most common reactions observed and often persisted for a year or more, but in our observations they did not appear to change any animal’s range of movement or locomotor patterns and in most cases did not appear to differ in magnitude from naturally occurring injuries or scars. We were unable to perform histological examinations of these nodules, but they may be similar to granulomas reported by other investigators following administration of Freund’s adjuvant.”

Ecologist Craig Downer speaks out against using PZP in the Pryors

Why end natural selection in the Pryors? Should humans run a wild horse breeding program or does nature know best?

The Horse and Burro as Positively Contributing Returned Natives in North America, Craig Downer 2014

Associated Press reports: Feds seek extra holding space for western mustangs

Wild War Horse (Photo © Cynthia Smalley, all rights reserved.)

Wild War Horse (Photo © Cynthia Smalley, all rights reserved.)

by Martin Griffith Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Federal land managers are under fire from animal welfare activists for seeking extra holding space for wild horses removed from western rangelands.

With current facilities nearing capacity, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is accepting bids until Aug. 29 from contractors interested in either operating short-term corrals in 31 states in the Midwest and East or long-term pastures.

After removing horses from the range, the bureau places them in short-term facilities until they are either adopted or shipped to pastures in the Midwest where they spend the rest of their lives. The agency routinely thins what it calls overpopulated herds on public land.

BLM officials, in a statement Thursday, said they plan to open “multiple” short-term corrals that can handle at least 150 horses each in various states along and east of the Mississippi River. They also seek one or more long-term pastures that can accommodate from 100 to 5,000 mustangs each.

The bureau has not yet awarded contracts for bids it received earlier this year from contactors interested in running short-term corrals in 17 states in the West and Midwest.

Bureau spokesman Tom Gorey said the total number of new holding facilities and their cost would depend on the number and quality of bids submitted. About two-thirds of the agency’s budget covers holding costs.

“We want to get out of the holding business, but at the moment that’s not possible,” Gorey told The Associated Press. “The bottom line is we have to make sure we have enough off-range holding for horses that are removed.”

Budget constraints are prompting the bureau to remove just 2,400 wild horses and burros from the range during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, down from 4,176 in 2013 and 8,255 in 2012. The vast majority of animals targeted for removal are horses.

But horse advocates criticized the agency’s plans for more holding space, saying it continues to “stockpile” horses at a growing cost to taxpayers with about as many mustangs now living in holding facilities as on the range.

“The BLM continues to refuse to reform its broken wild horse program,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “The agency is intent on sticking American taxpayers with the bill for rounding up and warehousing captured mustangs instead of listening to the scientists and the American public, and humanely managing wild horses and burros on the range.”

Gorey said activists’ demands to halt the removal of horses from the range are unrealistic because herds grow at an average rate of 20 percent a year and can double in size every four years.

According to the latest figures provided by the BLM, a total of 49,209 horses and burros freely roamed 10 Western states as of March 1, the vast majority of them mustangs. That estimate exceeds by more than 22,500 the number the BLM has determined can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses.

Off the range, there were 47,272 wild horses and burros in short-term corrals and long-term pastures as of July 30, the agency said.

Anne Novak of the California-based group Protect Mustangs accused the bureau of inflating horse numbers to justify their removal from the range to accommodate ranching, mining and oil and gas interests.

“The truth is we never see an overpopulation of wild horses on public land,” she said. “Overpopulation is a farce made to milk Congress for more money to clear public land for industrialization.”

Cross-posted from the Denver Post for educational purposes: This article has gone viral.

The Department of Interior’s plan to manage wild horses to extinction began in 2009

DOI & BLM Press Release
Contacts: Frank Quimby (DOI) , 202-208-6416
Tom Gorey (BLM) , 202-912-7420

Secretary Salazar Seeks Congressional Support for Strategy to Manage Iconic Wild Horses

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today proposed a national solution to restore the health of America’s wild horse herds and the rangelands that support them by creating a cost-efficient, sustainable management program that includes the possible creation of wild horse preserves on the productive grasslands of the Midwest and East. (Today the majority of America’s wild horses are held captive in long-term holding in the Midwest except for those who have been sold out the back door to slaughter.)

“The current path of the wild horse and burro program is not sustainable for the animals, the environment, or the taxpayer,” Salazar said in a letter outlining his proposals to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and eight other key members of Congress with jurisdiction over wild horse issues.  Salazar said he is “proposing to develop new approaches that will require bold efforts from the Administration and from Congress to put this program on a more sustainable track, enhance the conservation for these iconic animals, and provide better value for the taxpayer.” (Former Secretary Salazar was Tom Davis’ neighbor wasn’t he? Tom Davis –alleged pro-slaughter fellow–can’t tell anyone where the 1,700 wild horses went that he purchased from BLM for $10 each. Salazar threatened to “punch out” reporter Dave Phillips when he asked Salazar what happened to the wild horses sold to Davis.)

Bob Abbey, Director of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), commended the Secretary for his initiative, saying, “The proposals we are unveiling today represent a forward-looking, responsive effort to deal with the myriad challenges facing our agency’s wild horse and burro program.”  Abbey added, “We owe wild horses and burros on Western rangelands high-quality habitat. We owe the unadopted wild horses and burros in holding good care and treatment.  And we owe the American taxpayer a well-run, cost-effective wild horse program. Today’s package of proposals will achieve those ends.” (Bob Abbey retired.)

The challenges to the BLM associated with maintaining robust wild horse populations in the West have been recognized by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has warned that program costs have risen beyond sustainable levels and directed the BLM to prepare a long-term plan for the program.  The Government Accountability Office also found the program to be at a “critical crossroads,” affirmed the need to control off-the-range holding costs, and recommended that the BLM work with Congress to find a responsible way to manage the increasing number of unadopted horses.  In response to Congressional direction, Salazar’s proposals aim to achieve a “truly national solution” to a traditionally Western issue.

In four decades under the BLM’s protection, wild horses that were fast disappearing from the American scene are now experiencing rapid growth.  Secretary Salazar noted that some 37,000 wild horses and burros, which have virtually no natural predators, roam in 10 Western states, where arid rangelands and watersheds “cannot support a population this large without significant damage to the environment.” (What about livestock that outnumbers wild horses and burros at more than 50 to 1?)

The BLM works to achieve an ecological balance on the range by removing thousands of wild horses and burros from public rangelands each year and then offering them for adoption.   Unadopted animals are cared for in short-term corrals and long-term pastures.  With the sharp decline in wild horse adoptions in recent years because of the economic downturn, the Bureau now maintains nearly 32,000 wild horses and burros in holding, including more than 9,500 in expensive short-term corrals.  In the most recent fiscal year (2009), which ended September 30, holding costs were approximately $29 million, or about 70 percent of the total 2009 enacted wild horse and burro program budget of $40.6 million.  (Note: the 2013 budget was more than $75 million)

A key element of the Secretary’s plan, designed to address concerns raised by the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Government Accountability Office, would designate a new set of wild horse preserves across the nation.  Citing limits on forage and water in the West because of persistent drought and wildfire, Salazar said the lands acquired by the BLM and/or its partners “would provide excellent opportunities to celebrate the historic significance of wild horses, showcase these animals to the American public, and serve as natural assets that support local tourism and economic activity.”  The wild horse herds placed in these preserves would be non-reproducing.

In his letter, Salazar also proposed:

  • Managing the new preserves either directly by the BLM or through cooperative agreements between the BLM and private non-profit organizations or other partners to reduce the Bureau’s off-the-range holding costs.  This coordinated effort would harness the energy of wild horse and burro supporters, whose enthusiasm would also be tapped to promote wild horse adoptions at a time when adoption demand has softened.
  • Showcasing certain herds on public lands in the West that warrant distinct recognition with Secretarial or possibly congressional designations.  These would highlight the special qualities of America’s wild horses while generating eco-tourism for nearby rural communities.
  • Applying new strategies aimed at balancing wild horse and burro population growth rates with public adoption demand.  This effort would involve slowing population growth rates of wild horses on Western public rangelands through the aggressive use of fertility control, the active management of sex ratios on the range, and perhaps even the introduction of non-reproducing herds in some of the BLM’s existing Herd Management Areas in 10 Western states. The new strategies would also include placing more animals into private care by making adoptions more flexible where appropriate.

Noting that his proposals are subject to Congressional approval and appropriations, Salazar said he and Director Abbey look forward to discussing them with members of Congress “as we work together to protect and manage America’s ‘Living Legends.’”

A copy of the letter is online at For background information on the national wild horse and burro program, please visit the BLM’s Website at

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.

2009 Memorandum on PZP fertility control trials

Secretary Ken Salazar Public Domain

Secretary Ken Salazar Public Domain

March 12, 2009
In Reply Refer To:
4710 (260) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2009-090
Expires: 09/30/2010
To:                   All Field Officials (except Alaska)
From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning
Subject:           Population-Level Fertility Control Field Trials: Herd Management Area (HMA) Selection, Vaccine Application, Monitoring and Reporting Requirements
Program Area:  Wild Horse and Burro Program
Purpose: The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum is to establish guidance for population-level fertility control field research trials. The primary objective of these trials is to evaluate the effects of a single year or 22-month Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) immunocontraceptive vaccine treatment on wild horse population growth rates while expanding the use of these tools in the field.
Policy/Action: This policy establishes guidelines for selecting HMAs for population-level fertility control treatment, vaccine application, and post-treatment monitoring and reporting. It is the policy of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to apply fertility control as a component of all gathers unless there is a compelling management reason not to do so.
HMA Selection
Managers are directed to explore options for fertility control trials in all HMAs or complexes when they are scheduled for gathers. Further, an alternative outlining implementation of a fertility control treatment under a population-level research trial shall be analyzed in all gather plan environmental assessments (EA’s). Attachment 1 contains the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the implementation of the single-year and 22-month PZP agents, which should be referenced in the EA.

Fertility control should not be used in a manner that would threaten the health of individual animals or the long-term viability of any herd.  In order to address the latter requirement, managers must evaluate the potential effects of fertility control on herd growth rates through use of the Jenkins Population Model (WinEquus).  Fertility control application should achieve a substantial treatment effect while maintaining some long-term population growth to mitigate the effects of potential environmental catastrophes.

Fertility control will have the greatest beneficial impact where:

  1. Annual herd growth rates are typically greater than 5%.
  2. Post-gather herd size is estimated to be greater than 50 animals.
  3. Treatment of at least 50% of all breeding-age mares within the herd is possible using either application in conjunction with gathers or remote delivery (darting). A maximum of 90% of all mares should be treated and our goal should be to achieve as close as to this percentage as possible in order to maximize treatment effects.
Fertility control should not be dismissed as a potential management action even if the above conditions are not met. Regardless of primary capture method (helicopter drive-trapping or bait/water trapping), managers should strive to gather horses in sufficient numbers to achieve the goals of the management action, such as selective removal and fertility control treatment. After decisions are made to apply fertility control, historical herd information, remote darting success (if employed) and post-gather herd demographic data must be reported to the National Program Office (NPO). See the Reporting Requirements section on page four.
Vaccine Application and Animal Identification at Gather Sites Using the 22-Month Vaccine
Once an HMA has been selected as a population-level field trial site, the NPO will designate a trained applicator to administer the vaccine during the scheduled gather. The applicator will be responsible for securing the necessary vaccine from the NPO, transporting all application materials and freeze-marking equipment to the gather site, administering the treatment, and filing a treatment report with the NPO. See Attachment 1 for SOP for Population-level Fertility Control Treatments.
All treated mares will be freeze-marked with two 3.5-inch letters on the left hip for treatment tracking purposes. The only exception to this requirement is when each treated mare can be clearly and specifically identified through photographs. The treatment letters will be assigned and provided by the NPO after the gather and fertility control application is approved by the authorized officer. A different first letter is assigned for each fiscal year starting with fiscal year 2004 and the letter “A.” The second letter of the freeze-mark is specific to the application.
Each BLM State Office (SO) is responsible for coordinating with the State Brand Inspector on the use of the identified two-letter freeze-mark. Based on this coordination, possible alternatives or additions to this marking policy are listed below:
  1. Use of the adult or foal size angle-numeric BLM freezemark on the neck while recording each treatment product and date with the individual horse’s freezemark number.
  2. Registration of the BLM fertility control hip mark.
  3. Use of a registered brand furnished by the State.
  4. Use of the same hip freeze-mark for all fertility control treatments within that State’s jurisdiction plus an additional freeze-mark on the neck to differentiate between treatments within the State.
  5. Use of the NPO assigned freeze-mark plus additional freeze-mark on the neck to differentiate between treatments within the State.
As an example, the Nevada State Brand Inspector requires that an “F” freeze-mark be applied to the left neck along with the two-letter hip mark assigned by NPO.
Regardless of how the mares are marked, the marks must be identified in the fertility control treatment report in order to track when the mares were treated and the treatment protocol used.
Mares may be considered for re-treatment during subsequent gathers. All re-treatments will consist of the multi-year vaccine unless specifically approved by the NPO. Any re-treated mares must be re-marked or clearly identifiable for future information.
Vaccine Application and Animal Identification Using Remote Delivery (Darting)
Remote delivery of the one year vaccine by a trained darter/applicator will be considered and approved only when (1) application of the current 22-month PZP agent is not feasible because a gather will not be conducted, and (2) the targeted animals can be clearly and specifically identified on an on-going basis through photographs and/or markings. No animals should be darted that cannot be clearly and positively identified later as a treated animal. To increase the success rate of the darting and to insure proper placement of the vaccine, darting should occur along travel corridors or at water sources. If necessary, bait stations using hay or salt may be utilized to draw the horses into specific areas for treatment. The applicator will maintain records containing the basic information on the color and markings of the mare darted and her photographs, darting location, and whether the used darts were recovered from the field.  See Appendix 1 for SOP for Population-Level Fertility Control Treatments.
Post-treatment Monitoring
At a minimum, the standard data collected on each treated herd will include one aerial population survey prior to any subsequent gather. This flight will generally occur 3 to 4 years after the fertility control treatment and will be conducted as a routine pre-gather inventory funded by the Field Office (FO). The flight should be timed to assure that the majority of foaling is completed, which for most herds will require that flights be scheduled after August 1st. In addition to pre-gather population data (herd size), information on past removals, sex ratio, and age structure (capture data) will be submitted to the NPO after the first post-treatment gather.
The following standard data will be collected during all post-treatment population surveys:
  1. Total number of adult (yearling and older) horses observed.
  2. Total number of foals observed.
These data are to be recorded on the Aerial Survey Report form (Attachment 4). In planning post-treatment population surveys, the new population estimation techniques being developed by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are strongly recommended. In general, however, it is not necessary that anyone try to identify treated and untreated mares and specifically which mares have foaled during aerial surveys.
To obtain more specific information on vaccine efficacy, some HMAs may be selected for intensive monitoring beginning the first year after treatment and ending with the first gather that follows treatment. These surveys should be completed annually within the same month for consistency of the data. Selection will be based on the proportion of treated mares in the herd, degree of success with vaccine application, degree to which HMA selection criteria are met, and opportunities for good quality data collection. This determination will be made by the WH&B Research Advisory Team and the NPO in consultation with the appropriate Field Office (FO) and State Office (SO). HMAs selected for intensive monitoring will be identified in that specific State’s Annual Work Plan. Washington Office 260 (WO260) will provide funding for the annual surveys in those HMAs selected for intensive monitoring.
Field Office personnel may conduct more intensive on-the-ground field monitoring of these herds as time and budget allow. These data should be limited to: 1) the annual number of marked and unmarked mares with and without foals and 2) foaling seasonality. These data, generated for FO use, should be submitted to the NPO to supplement research by the USGS.
Reporting Requirements
1) When an HMA is selected for fertility control treatment, the HMA manager will initiate and complete the appropriate sections of the Gather, Removal, and Treatment Summary Report (Attachment 2) and submit the report to the NPO. At the conclusion of the gather and treatment, the HMA manager will complete the remainder of the Gather, Removal, and Treatment Summary Report and submit it to the NPO within 30 days.  The NPO will file and maintain these reports, with a copy sent to the National WH&B Research Coordinator.
2) Following treatment, the fertility control applicator will complete a PZP Application Report and PZP Application Data Sheet (Attachments 3 & 4) and submit it to the NPO that summarizes the treatment. The NPO will maintain this information and provide copies of the reports to appropriate FOs and USGS.
3) Managers are required to send post-treatment monitoring data (Aerial Survey Report, Attachment 5) to the NPO within 30 days of completing each aerial survey. Any additional on-the-ground monitoring data should be sent to the NPO on an annual basis by December 31st.
4) During the next post-treatment gather (generally 4 to 6 years after treatment), the manager will complete a new Gather, Removal, and Treatment Summary Report with pertinent information and submit the report to the NPO. Completion of this report will fulfill the requirements for monitoring and reporting for each population-level study. A possible exception would be if mares are treated (or re-treated) and the HMA is retained as a population-level study herd.
The USGS will analyze all standard data collected. The results of these analyses along with other research efforts will help determine the future use of PZP fertility control for management of wild horse herds by the BLM.
Timeframe: This Instruction Memorandum is effective upon issuance.
Budget Impact: Implementation of this policy will achieve cost savings by reducing the numbers of excess animals removed from the range and minimizing the numbers of less adoptable animals removed. The costs to administer the one-year PZP agent include the labor and equipment costs for the applicator and assistant of roughly $4,000/month and the treatment cost of approximately $25 per animal. The costs to administer the 22-month PZP agent include the capture cost of about $1,000 per animal treated (under normal sex ratios it requires two horses, one stud and one mare, to be captured for each mare treated) and the PZP vaccine is approximately $250 per animal. The budgetary savings for each foal not born due to fertility control is about $500 for capture, $1,100 for adoption prep and short-term holding, $500-1,000 for adoption costs, and approximately $475 per year for long-term holding of animals removed but not adopted. For each animal that would have been maintained at long term holding for the remainder of its life after capture, the total cost savings is about $13,000. Any additional FO-level monitoring will be accomplished while conducting other routine field activities at no additional cost.
Population-level studies will help to further evaluate the effectiveness of fertility control in wild horse herds. Recent research results showed that application of the current 22-month PZP contraceptive appears capable of reducing operating costs for managing wild horse populations.   Application of a 3-4 year contraceptive, when developed, tested, and available, may be capable of reducing operating costs by even more (Bartholow, 2004).
Background: The one-year PZP vaccine has been used with success on the Pryor Mountain and the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Ranges. The 22-month PZP vaccine has been administered to 1,808 wild horse mares in 47 HMAs since fiscal year 2004. This formulation has been shown to provide infertility potentially through the third year post-treatment as determined by a trial conducted at the Clan Alpine HMA in 1999. The intent of the ongoing population-level fertility control trials is to determine if the rate of population growth in wild horse herds can be reduced through the use of the currently available 22-month time-release PZP vaccine, applied within a 3-4 year gather and treatment cycle. Monitoring data collected over the next few years are essential to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine when applied on a broad scale as well as its potential for management use.
PZP is classified as an Investigational New Animal Drug and some level of monitoring will continue to be required until such time as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) either reclassify the vaccine or provide some other form of relief.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: The monitoring requirements do not change or affect any manual or handbook.
Coordination: The requirements outlined in this policy have been evaluated by the National Wild Horse and Burro Research Advisory Team, coordinated with the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, and reviewed by Field Specialists.

Contact: Questions concerning this policy should be directed to Alan Shepherd, WH&B Research Coordinator at the Wyoming State Office in Cheyenne, Wyoming at (307) 775-6097.

Reference: Bartholow, J.M. 2004. An economic analysis of alternative fertility control and associated management techniques for three BLM wild horse herdsFort Collins, CO: U.S. Geological Survey. Open-File Report 2004-1199. 33 p.

Signed by:                                                                  Authenticated by:
Edwin L. Roberson                                                     Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director                                                       Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Renewable Resources and Planning
5 Attachments

Obama nominated Ken Salazar, endorsed by the Sierra Club and the Safari Club (2008)

By U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Obama Nominates Salazar for Interior Secretary, Vilsack for Agriculture

Thursday 18 December 2008

by: Dan Bacher, t r u t h o u t | Report
President-elect Barack Obama formally announced the nomination of Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado for secretary of the interior.

    After a couple of weeks of Washington insiders speculating about which people might be selected for two of the nation’s key environmental posts, President-elect Barack Obama today formally announced the nominations of Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado for secretary of the interior and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack for secretary of agriculture.

Just a week ago, Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-California) and Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) were supposedly on Obama’s “short list” for the secretary of interior. A broad coalition of national fishing and hunting organizations, conservation groups and the Karuk Tribe was supporting the nomination of Thompson, while a coalition of environmentalists and national Latino organizations was backing Grijalva. As it turned out, neither of the two apparently likely candidates was chosen.

Obama took a shot at the Bush administration’s environmental polices in explaining his reasons for choosing Salazar.

“I want a more proactive Interior Department,” the president-elect stated. “I also want an Interior Department that, very frankly, cleans up its act. There have been too many problems and too much – too much emphasis on big-time lobbyists in Washington and not enough emphasis on what’s good for the American people, and that’s going to change under Ken Salazar.”

Obama hailed Salazar as a “champion for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities” that will “bring to the Department of Interior an abiding commitment to this land we love.” He also affirmed “that tribal nations have a voice in this administration” with the appointment of Salazar.

In accepting the nomination today, Salazar vowed to promote clean energy, protect the country’s public lands and national parks, restore the nation’s rivers and work with Native American communities.

“I look forward to helping build our clean energy economy, modernize our interstate electrical grid, and ensure that we are making wise use of our conventional natural resources, including coal, oil and natural gas,” said Salazar. “I look forward to protecting our national parks, public lands and open spaces, and America’s farm and ranchlands. I look forward to restoring our Nation’s rivers and working to resolve our water supply challenges. I look forward to helping to address the challenges faced by our Native American communities across the Nation.”

The Sierra Club, which didn’t endorse any candidate for the interior post, praised the nominations. Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, said he was confident that Salazar would promote green energy policies and “undo the damage” of the Bush years.

“The Sierra Club is very pleased with the nomination of Ken Salazar to head the Interior Department,” said Pope. “As a Westerner and a rancher, he understands the value of our public lands, parks, and wildlife and has been a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s reckless efforts to sell-off our public lands to Big Oil and other special interests. Senator Salazar has been a leader in protecting places like the Roan Plateau and he has stood up against the Bush’s administration’s dangerous rush to develop oil shale in Colorado and across the West.

“Senator Salazar has also been a leading voice in calling for the development of the West’s vast solar, wind, and geothermal resources. He will make sure that we create the good-paying green jobs that will fuel our economic recovery without harming the public lands he will be charged with protecting.

“Senator Salazar will inherit an agency that has suffered from a pervasive rot under the Bush administration due to widespread corruption, simple incompetence, and severe underfunding. We are confident that Senator Salazar will work with President-Elect Obama to undo the damage of the Bush years and chart a course that will allow this vast agency to return to its proud legacy of protecting our last wild places, wildlife, and vast natural resources.”

    Safari Club International (SCI) today also expressed its support for Obama’s choice of Senator Salazar as his administration’s next interior secretary.

Senator Salazar is currently a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and has been a consistent pro-sportsman vote since he came to Washington, DC, in 2004. “With this appointment, President-Elect Obama has made the logical choice of an Interior Secretary who understands the sportsmen’s legacy of hunting and conservation on America’s public lands,” according to a statement from SCI.

“We are pleased that President-Elect Obama has resisted the pressure from anti-hunting groups to name an anti-hunting extremist to this important post,” said SCI President Merle Shepard. “Senator Salazar’s pro-hunting votes over the past four years in Washington, and his support for access to federal lands for hunting throughout his entire career in Colorado will prove to be invaluable for sportsmen and women during this Administration.”

“SCI looks forward to working with Senator Salazar in the Obama Administration to make sure the hunter’s voice is heard on every issue that affects hunting, hunters or science-based wildlife management,” Shepard stated.

The Sierra Club also lauded Vilsack’s nomination. “The Sierra Club congratulates Governor Vilsack on his appointment to head the Department of Agriculture,” said Pope. “We look forward to working with him in this new role. With a Secretary Vilsack overseeing the National Forest System and the Conservation Reserve Program, we are optimistic that USDA can once again become a responsible steward of wilderness and vital habitat for wildlife.

“Governor Vilsack can play an important role in helping to bring about the clean energy economy in a way that benefits both farmers and rural communities and our environment,” Pope suggested. “The USDA can take the lead in moving us past the corn-based ethanol of today toward the next-generation biofuels of tomorrow. These next-generation biofuels will not just provide farmers with new sources of income and help us break our dangerous dependence on oil, but they will also help President-Elect Obama achieve his ambitious plans to tackle global warming.”

Here is Salazar’s nomination acceptance statement:

Senator Salazar Accepts Nomination to Lead Interior Department

Wednesday December 17, 2008

Chicago, Illinois – Today, United States Senator Ken Salazar made the following statement today after President-elect Obama formally nominated him to serve as the next Secretary of the United States Department of Interior:

“I am humbled and honored to be nominated by President-Elect Barack Obama to serve as Secretary of the Interior.

“My story in America began more than 400 years ago when my ancestors settled the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They named it the City of Holy Faith.

“As my family struggled for survival across twelve generations in Colorado and New Mexico, their faith that humanity could achieve the potential given to each human being by our Creator has been the bedrock that has sustained them over those many years.

“Today as I stand here, I see their faith shining brightly on Barack Obama.

“I know Barack Obama as a champion for change, and I am grateful for his confidence in me.

“I look forward to serving as a strong voice in the Administration for the West and the Nation.

“As the Nominee to be Secretary of the Interior, I will do all I can to help reduce Americaís dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

“I look forward to working directly with President-Elect Obama as an integral part of his team as we take the moon shot on energy independence.

“That energy imperative will create jobs here in America, protect our national security, and confront the dangers of global warming.

“I look forward to helping build our clean energy economy, modernize our interstate electrical grid, and ensure that we are making wise use of our conventional natural resources, including coal, oil, and natural gas.

“I look forward to protecting our national parks, public lands and open spaces, and America’s farm and ranchlands.

“I look forward to restoring our Nation’s rivers and working to resolve our water supply challenges.

“I look forward to helping to address the challenges faced by our Native American communities across the Nation.

“And I look forward to investing in America’s young people by implementing President-Elect Obama’s vision for youth programs across America.

“I want to thank, first and foremost, my entire family; especially my wife, Hope, and daughters Melinda and Andrea. Without their courage and unwavering support, I would not be here today.

“I want to thank my late father, Henry, and my mother, Emma. As a soldier and a public servant in World War II, they instilled in me the values that enabled me and all of my siblings to achieve the American dream.

“I want to thank my seven brothers and sisters and all of my family because they have always inspired me to reach for the stars.

“I want to thank the five million people of the state of Colorado who gave me the privilege of serving as their chief law enforcement officer as Attorney General and as their United States Senator. I look forward to serving Colorado, the West, and the Nation, in this new capacity. I will work hard to make you proud.

“Finally, I want to thank the Members of the United States Senate for their dedication and friendship. I have been honored and blessed to serve with them, Democrats and Republicans alike.

“And to my wonderful staff in the United States Senate: thank you for your loyalty and dedication to excellence.

“I thank President-Elect Obama and I look forward to serving as a member of his team.”

Author’s Note: After I wrote my article about the Salazar nomination, I received this press release from the Center for Biological Diversity. In contrast to the Sierra Club, the Center is strongly opposing the nomination. The reaction to Salazar’s nomination is receiving very mixed reviews in the environmental community. – dan/TO

For Immediate Release, December 16, 2008

Contact: Kieran Suckling, Executive Director, (520) 275-5960

Ken Salazar a Disappointing Choice for Secretary of the Interior

Stronger, More Scientifically Based Leadership Needed to Fix Crisis-Plagued Agency

Tucson, Arizona – Strong rumors are circulating that President-elect Barack Obama has selected Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., as the new Secretary of the Interior. As the overseer of the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Minerals Management Services, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Endangered Species Act, the Secretary of the Interior is most important position in the protection of America’s lands, waters, and endangered species.

The Department of the Interior has been rocked by scandals during the Bush administration, most revolving around corrupt bureaucrats overturning and squelching agency scientists as they attempted to protect endangered species and natural resources from exploitation by developers, loggers, and oil and gas development. As recently as Monday, the Interior Department Inspector General issued another in a string of reports finding that top Department officials systematically violated laws and regulations in order to avoid or eliminate environmental protections.

“The Department of the Interior desperately needs a strong, forward looking, reform-minded Secretary,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. “Unfortunately, Ken Salazar is not that man. He endorsed George Bush’s selection of Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior, the very woman who initiated and encouraged the scandals that have rocked the Department of the Interior. Virtually all of the misdeeds described in yesterday’s Inspector General expose occurred during the tenure of the person Ken Salazar advocated for the position he is now seeking.”

While Salazar has promoted some good environmental actions and fought against off-road vehicle abuse, his overall record is decidedly mixed, and is especially weak in the arenas most important to the next Secretary of the Interior: protecting scientific integrity, combating global warming, reforming energy development and protecting endangered species. Salazar:

  • voted against increased fuel efficiency standards for the U.S. automobile fleet
  • voted to allow offshore oil drilling along Florida’s coast
  • voted to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to ignore global warming impacts in their water development projects
  • voted against the repeal of tax breaks for Exxon-Mobil
  • voted to support subsidies to ranchers and other users of public forest and range lands
  • threatened to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when its scientists determined the black-tailed prairie dog may be endangered
  • fought efforts to increase protection for endangered species and the environment in the Farm Bill

“Obama’s choices for Secretary of Energy and his “Climate Change Czar” indicate a determined willingness to take on global warming,” Suckling said. “That team will be weakened by the addition of Ken Salazar, who has fought against federal action on global warming, against higher fuel efficiency standards, and for increased oil drilling and oil subsidies.”

In addition to his misstep on Norton, Salazar endorsed the elevation of William Myers III to the federal bench. Myers was a former Interior Department Solicitor and lobbyist for the ranching industry. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called him ”the most anti-environmental candidate for the bench I have seen in 37 years in the Senate.” Bizarrely, Salazar praised Myers’ “outstanding legal reasoning” regarding endangered species, Indian affairs, federal lands and water, timber, and fish and wildlife issues. The American Bar Association rated Myers as “not qualified.” Salazar later supported Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General, introducing him at his Senate confirmation hearing.

    “One of the most important jobs of the Secretary of the Interior is to help pick dozens of critically important political appointees to oversee America’s conservation system,” Suckling said. “His past misjudgments of Norton, Myers and Gonzales give us little confidence he will choose wisely in the future.”


Who has heard about the Salazar Plan for wild horses?

Secretary Ken Salazar Public Domain

Secretary Ken Salazar Public Domain


Salazar Presents Ambitious Plan to Manage West’s Wild Horses

By Lyndsey Layton and Juliet Eilperin

Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 8, 2009

The government plans to aggressively sterilize wild horses and transplant thousands to new public preserves in the Midwest and East as a solution to the nearly 40-year-old problem of how to manage the exploding numbers of wild horses in the West, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Wednesday.

“We have a huge problem — out-of-control populations of wild horses and burros on our public lands,” Salazar told reporters. “The problem has been growing and simmering over time, and it’s time for us to do something about it that protects the horses, the public lands and the taxpayers.”

With no natural predators remaining in their habitat, the wild horses and burros that roam federal land in 10 Western states have been thriving, growing from 25,000 in 1971 to 69,000 today. They compete with other wildlife and with cattle for food and water, and they have been blamed for damaging their surroundings.

The Bureau of Land Management says the range can support about 26,600 wild horses and burros. But today the free-roaming herds total about 37,000. There are another 32,000 in holding facilities.

Salazar is proposing that the federal government spend about $96 million to buy land in the Midwest and East to create two preserves that could each support 3,600 horses. It is unclear exactly where the preserves would be located. The annual operating and maintenance costs would be about $1.7 million, according to the bureau.

The secretary said he envisions that the preserves would be open to the public and that tourists would visit to see the horses, but he offered few details about how that would work.

The government intends to partner with nonprofit organizations and other private groups to create five more preserves, so that 25,000 animals would be living on preserves by 2014. All the animals would be sterilized or segregated by sex to prevent procreation.

At the same time, the government would seek to sterilize or control the reproduction of enough animals on the range so that the birthrate is 3,500 foals a year. That would equal the adoption rate of the wild horses and burros, resulting in no net growth of the wild herd. Under the proposal, the costs for the wild horse and burro program would start decreasing by 2019.

Long an American icon and inspiration for song and story, the wild horse has special protection under a 1971 law. The federal statute calls wild horses “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” that should be “protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death.” But the same law also requires the government to achieve “appropriate management levels” of roaming horses so that they do not overwhelm federal lands — and that is the part that has been vexing government officials.

Since the 1980s, the federal government has hired cowboys to round up some excess horses and place them in holding facilities, where they await adoption by the public. But the adoption rate has slowed along with the economy. In fiscal 2008, the government placed 3,706 horses into private adoption, compared with 5,701 in fiscal 2005.

The number of horses and burros in holding facilities is now about 32,000 — nearly the same number roaming wild on the range. Meanwhile, the cost to taxpayers for feed and care of the animals in holding facilities keeps climbing. The budget for the wild horse and burro program rose from $39.2 million in fiscal 2007 to more than $50 million last year.

A year ago, officials at the Bureau of Land Management suggested they might turn to euthanasia — causing an immediate outcry from members of Congress, horse lovers and animal advocates. Madeleine Pickens, the wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens and a racehorse breeder, jumped into the conflict and announced her intention to buy a ranch and adopt 30,000 horses. She created a nonprofit foundation and a Web site, at, and signed a letter of intent to buy land in northeast Nevada. But her negotiations with the government have sputtered over her request for annual federal stipends to care for the horses and the use of some federal lands for grazing.

Pickens said Wednesday that she was unsure what Salazar’s announcement means for her project. “It’s pretty vague,” she said, referring to the government’s plan. “The good news is they’re going to do something, which is more than nothing.”

Salazar’s proposal must be approved by Congress, and a key lawmaker voiced his support Wednesday.

“I applaud Secretary Salazar’s commitment to reversing the historic trend of treating wild horses like a nuisance and subjecting them to long-term storage and slaughter,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va), who had criticized Interior’s handling of the issue in the past. “We have been fighting this battle for a long time now and will continue to do so until the BLM fulfills its duty under the law to protect America’s free-roaming wild horses and burros.”

Some animal advocates, including Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society, praised the plan, but others decried it. American Horse Defense Fund President Shelley Sawhook said it would be costly and only amounted to “a stop-gap measure.”

“I’m skeptical of the entire thing,” Sawhook said. She blamed the current predicament on government officials having taken 19 million acres of federal habitat away from the horses and burros. “That needs to be returned to the horses,” she said. “If that 19 million acres were still there, there would be no need for holding pens. There would be no need for relocation.

Cross-posted from:

2010 Owyhee roundup ~ Cloud Foundation denied access to observe

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Photo © Anne Evans for The Cloud Foundation


The Cloud Foundation
Media Contacts:

Anne Novak
Tel: 415-531-8454

Makendra Silverman
Tel: 719-351-8187

For Immediate Release:

BLM Above the Law?

Salazar’s Agency Ignores Federal Court Order Honoring First Amendment, Denies Observers Access to Wild Horse Roundup

Reno, NV (July 19, 2010)—Laura Leigh, Herd Watch Project Coordinator for The Cloud Foundation, has been denied access to observe the Owyhee roundup, the first leg of the Tuscarora roundup near Elko, Nevada. On July 16th, Federal Judge Larry Hicks’ ruled Leigh’s First Amendment rights be upheld and therefore allow her and others to view the roundup. Leigh contends that the BLM has gone against the Judge’s orders for three days. Today Leigh filed a motion to uphold the court order for her First Amendment rights.

BLM officials refused to tell her where the trap site was located. They had strategically placed it on private land within the public herd management area (HMA) even though the range contains more than 450,000 acres of public land. The private landowner would not grant Leigh and others access. BLM used this method before to hide the Calico roundup from the public and journalists except for rare staged “media days”.

The helicopter stampede resumed as soon as the Judge lifted the injunction last Friday. Since then BLM has captured 620 mustangs and their young foals in the sweltering heat. More than 17 wild horses have been killed during the roundup. At least 2 foals were shot (euthanized) because of leg deformities resulting in lameness after being run over many miles of volcanic rock. Advocates question the accuracy of the diagnosis—pointing to evidence that lameness previously was caused by running the hoofs off the baby horses during last winter’s Calico roundup in Nevada also run by Cattoor Livestock, the private contractor who will be paid close to one million dollars for this roundup.

The BLM has created an alleged wild horses dehydration emergency by fencing mustangs off from water and running them scared by helicopter into traps. Advocates feel it is inhumane that the BLM is not treating the wild horses in the wild for dehydration but instead the BLM continues to chase them, round them up and ship the wild horses crammed in huge trucks for more than 5 hours to a temporary holding facility—all in the desert heat.

“These are wild animals. If this alleged emergency was happening to deer or big horn sheep the BLM would not be terrifying them by helicopter chase and then trucking them for half a day in the sweltering heat to be cared for at a distant location. Traditionally you care for distressed wild animals in the wild,” states Makendra Silverman, Associate Director of The Cloud Foundation. “And isn’t it curious that other wildlife or cattle isn’t suffering extreme dehydration out on the same range?”

Leigh had filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to stop this roundup and defend the public’s first amendment rights to observe the operation. BLM testified in federal court that no cattle remained on the range and that the horses had no water—even though a river is only 10 miles away, a short distance to travel for wild horses who under normal circumstances may travel twice that distance in daily treks to get a drink.

4,000 privately-owned cattle are permitted to graze (and drink) on the Tuscarora Complex where BLM permits only 400 mustangs.  Made up by three separate HMAs: Owyhee, Little Humboldt and Rock Creek, the area is to be managed by BLM principally (though not exclusively) for the federally protected wild horses.

The foundation wants to know what is stopping the horses from accessing the Owyhee River and other perennial water sources? Are gates locked and vast areas fenced for livestock in the HMA?

“BLM’s emergency roundups are classified as such before the action begins. The three Tuscarora roundups were never described as emergencies. Suddenly, with the BLM challenged in court and 12 dead horses from the first day’s roundup their operation has suddenly morphed into an ‘emergency rescue’ roundup,” states Cloud Foundation Director, Ginger Kathrens, who has 16 years experience documenting wild horses in the West. “There is really no way to accurately assess the real, on-the-ground situation because the public is still being denied access. Is BLM resorting to any means just to carry out an agenda to rid the western ranges of wild horses?”

The three Tuscarora roundups (Owyhee, Little Humbolt and Rock Creek) were scheduled months ago as a standard BLM operation. The wild horses were found to be healthy. The primary reason for the roundups was because the wild horses were allegedly damaging livestock fencing. The public, mustang advocates, animal welfare groups and equine experts warned against summer helicopter roundups in the desert heat. The BLM ignored the comments.

The Cloud Foundation calls for immediate access to be given to all members of the interested public and for the addition of at least two knowledgeable wild horse advocates to BLM’s assembled team of insiders to determine what went wrong in the Owyhee disaster.

“Right now BLM plans to zero out the entire West Douglas herd in Colorado against a Federal Judge’s specific ruling to leave the herd intact. For the past three days, BLM ignored Judge Hicks’ ruling for the First Amendment,” states Kathrens. “Who will stop Salazar’s rogue bureau before they ruin the West?”

# # #

Links of interest:
Washington Post reports on NV Roundup Resuming
NBC Reno reports BLM Still Restricting Public Access to Roundup
Leigh vs Salazar Documents filed 7/19 that relate to Leigh’s attempt to observe the Owyhee roundup and uphold her First Amendment rights:
Motion for Contempt
Declaration for Motion
Exhibit A DOI Letter

‘Herd-Watch: Public Eyes for Public Horses’
Court Order Granting Injunction
Grass Roots Horse
BLM daily reports on Tuscarora roundup
Roundup Schedule- updated July 12, 2010
The Mustang Conspiracy: Sex, Drugs, Corruption, and BP – investigative report
Wild Horse and Burro Act
Tuscarora/Owyhee Complex Roundup Information from BLM

Disappointment Valley… A Modern Day Western Trailer- excellent sample of interviews regarding the issues
PR Firm Hired for the Destruction of America’s Wild Horse and Burro Herds
Fact Sheet on Wild Herds & The Salazar Plan

Massive roundup at Owyhee

Interior Secretary threatens to “punch out” Colorado Springs reporter

Chaos Reigns in Re-elected President’s Cabinet

Wild Horse Foe and Public Bully, Ken Salazar

On Election Day, at an enthusiastic gathering of Obama supporters in Fountain, Colorado; Dave Philips, a reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, had just finished an interview with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about his controversial policies for managing America’s wild horse populations. Just after Secretary Salazar answered final questions about the future safety of wild horses and he turned to leave the interview, he unexpectedly approached Phillips and told him, “If you set me up like this again, I’ll punch you out.”  Standing nearby was Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation, a Colorado-based wild horse advocacy organization. “I was stunned by the Secretary’s rude and clearly hostile comment toward Dave,” said Kathrens.

Kathrens, who had had been granted permission by an Interior law enforcement official to take pictures at the rally added, “ Salazar walked past me, refused to shake my hand, and told me, ‘You know, you should never do that.” It was unclear to Kathrens what he meant. “These threats would have been inappropriate coming from anyone, but the fact that it came out of the mouth of the Secretary of the Interior is alarming,” stated Kathrens. “I can’t believe that a top official in Obama’s cabinet could be so defensive.”

Phillips’ interview with Salazar was a follow-up to a story he had written in September about the sale of wild horses to Tom Davis, a Colorado killer buyer who purchased over 1,700 wild horses from government holding facilities. The horses ended up in south Texas and it is believed they were trucked over the border to Mexican slaughterhouses. Secretary Salazar acknowledged that an investigation of Davis’ activities is currently underway.

Salazar’s anti-wild horse stance came to light in 2004 during his successful run for the U.S. Senate. After a town hall meeting in Greeley, Colorado, wild horse advocate Barbara Flores asked him what he thought about our wild horses. Candidate Salazar responded, “They don’t belong on public lands.” Salazar vacated his Senate seat in 2008 to take his current position as Secretary of the Interior

The BLM removes far more horses from their legally designated home ranges than can be adopted out to the public. The massive roundups have resulted in the stockpiling of animals in government facilities and privately contracted ranches. Nearly twice as many wild horses are housed in these costly holding operations than currently roam free, leaving most wild herds under populated and vulnerable to inbreeding and die-off due to a lack of genetic diversity.

“You know, this isn’t just about wild horses,” explains Kathrens. “America needs leaders in Washington, and the President needs cabinet members who respect citizens, respect the laws, value discussion and working toward mutual solutions. Ken Salazar displayed none of this on Tuesday.”

Call the White House at 202-456-1111 and ask for special interest Cattle Baron and wild horse foe Ken Salazar to be removed from office, TODAY!!

Obama faces energy team shuffle that may result in Salazar resignation and Grijalva nomination

Cross-posted from VGFarrell on Nov 9, 2012 in Wild Horses for Tuesday’s Horse

Ken Salazar. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar pauses during a Senate Committee hearing in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Andrew Restuccia reporting for Politico writes:

“President Barack Obama won four more years in Washington Tuesday, but his energy team likely won’t be sticking around for that long, setting up some bruising confirmation fights in the Senate.

“Democrats close to the Obama administration say Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar could all step down during Obama’s second term, though the timing is far from certain.

“Of course, Democrats caution that nothing is set in stone and the politics of the second term, as well as the possibility of a lengthy confirmation battle over their replacements, could dictate who stays and who goes.” Read more >>

While this may music to the ears of wild horse and burro advocates regarding Salazar, it would be hasty to assume this would resolve all of the threats to the survival of America’s wild equines on public lands as it is not clear who Obama intends to nominate to take Salazar’s place if Salazar indeed leaves. It is not a given.

Another challenge, as cited in the Restuccia article, is the confirmation hearing which promises to be grueling and rash with political maneuvering.

With that said, the candidate that springs to mind among wild horse and burro advocates naturally for Interior Secretary is of course Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-7-AZ). They will be happy to know that his name is already beginning to take on some buzz inside the Beltway, but there may be other candidates up the President’s sleeve.

Who is Raúl Grijalva?

Rep Raul Grijalva at the podium. Google image.

Rep Raul Grijalva at the podium. Google image.

Congressman Raúl Grijalva has a winning resume for Interior Secretary, and the obvious choice in 2008 of many in Washington, and expectantly will be again this time around.

Rep. Grijalva began his public career as a community organizer and has worked his way up through the ranks, and that type of background appeals strongly to President Obama.

Elected to Congress in 2002, Rep. Grijalva earned early credit for his role in creating the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, which brought together business interests, landowners and environmentalists reports the New York Times. More recently, he challenged British Petroleum months before the accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rep. Grijalva serves on the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources and appointed Chairman of its National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee. However, as a Democrat in a Republican House, he is currently its Ranking Member. The Subcommittee oversees 600 million acres of federal land. Also important, Congressman Grijalva serves on the Subcommittee on Water and Power.

In October 2008, Grijalva “published a 23-page report (‘a partial list’, he deemed it), outlining the Bush administration’s assaults on our national parks, forests and public lands.”

“That document wasn’t a mere Bush-bashing exercise,” reports Billie Stanton writing for the Tuscon Citizen, “it was a blueprint for how to remedy the havoc wrought and how to bring transparency, honesty, ethics and professionalism to the hideously corrupted Department of the Interior.”

Rep. Grijalva is also a member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition and supporter of the Green Scissors plan (pdf) to cut $200 billion in government subsidies to industries such as coal, oil, gas and timber.

His voting on energy policy (see links in Related Reading below) lines up with much of Obama’s thinking, in particular renewable energy. This is key.

Conservation has always been high on the list of Rep. Grijalva’s priorities in Washington. His record clearly reflects this, and he is popular among a long list of advocates, including those of conservationists and wild horse and burro protectionists.

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund give Rep. Grijalva an inspiring LCV lifetime environmental score of 95% and a perfect 100% on LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard for his voting record in 2011.

This means that Rep. Grijalva clearly understands the link between the nurturing of America’s public lands through the sustaining environmental impact of free-roaming wild horses and burros (that will also by the way benefit the cattle and other wildlife foraging there).

Although energy will be the focus in selecting the next Interior Secretary, the Bureau of Land Management fall under the jurisdiction of the DOI, and the wild horses and burros fall under the oversight of the BLM.

Rep. Grijalva has shown himself to be an influential friend to the lands and wild equines who live on them, particularly in moments of crisis and addressed the Department of Interior on their behalf.

While Rep. Grijalva is a highly commendable candidate to replace Secretary Salazar, he may not be a popular choice of the gas, oil and mining industries, reckoned to be the most powerful lobby in Washington. Billie Stanton, writing for the Tuscon Citizen in 2008 in an article entitled, “Why did Obama forsake Grijalva?” suggests “He was too ‘green’ for gas, oil and mining interests” who “would do everything in their power to block Grijalva” according to a savvy political observer in southern Arizona.

Wild Horses needlessly rounded up by federal government agency, Bureau of Land Management. Google image.

Wild Horses needlessly rounded up by federal government agency, Bureau of Land Management. Google image.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

While we must be vigilant for these sorts of changes, more importantly and urgently, we must stay focused on the treatment of our wild horses and burros under the current regime, and continue to work hard for their protection and survival.


Wild Horses and Burros

Congressman criticizes Nevada wild horse roundup; Tuesday’s Horse; Jun. 11, 2012

Letter (pdf) to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on the need for more humane horse management policies (signed by more than 60 Members of Congress); Jul. 28, 2011

Congressional wild horse champion rides to the rescue; Tuesday’s Horse; Jul. 8, 2011

Grijalva to host DC premiere of Kleinert’s Wild Horses & Renegades; Tuesday’s Horse; Jun. 22, 2011

Horse slaughter off the Washington radar too long says Rep. Grijalva; Jun. 8, 2011

Congressman Grijalva honors Cloud and all wild horses and burros; Tuesday’s Horse; May 5, 2011

Congressman Grijalva Votes to Save Wild Horses and Mustangs; News Release; Congressman Raul Grijalva website; Jul. 17, 2009


– See how Grijalva voted on energy issues at >>

– See how Grijalva voted on energy and oil issues at >>

Press Release: Protests to stop roundups and sales to kill buyers

(Photo © Cat Kindsfather, all rights reserved)

For immediate release

Call for peaceful protests to stop the roundups and stop the BLM from selling federally protected wild horses to kill-buyers

American public outraged at cruel ‘management’

WASHINGTON (October 6, 2012)–Protect Mustangs announced on Facebook Friday their call for nationwide protests to stop the roundups and stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from selling federally protected indigenous wild horses to kill buyers.

“We are calling for peaceful protests as well as candlelight vigils so no more wild horses will die from roundups, be tortured by the helicopters or sold to kill buyers for delicacy meat abroad,” states Anne Novak, executive director for California based Protect Mustangs “The public is outraged.”

Last week ProPublica exposed the BLM selling at least 1,700 federally protected wild horses to known pro-slaughter buyer, Tom Davis, and the public is furious. The BLM is charged with managing and protecting wild horses–not selling them for $10 a head to a pro-slaughter middle man to reduce the numbers in holding due to years of fiscally irresponsible roundups.

“Members of the public who are active in their communities must let their friends, family and neighbors know they can contact Congress if they don’t like their tax dollars used to fund cruel roundups,” says Tami Hottes, Protect Mustangs’ outreach coordinator for the Midwest and South. “People are upset to learn about the BLM selling all those historic wild horses to a guy like Tom Davis. It’s disgusting.”

This week the Antelope roundup, in northeastern Nevada, started under the pretense of saving the wild horses from a drought stricken area.

“We are concerned the BLM is jumping on the drought opportunity to zero out herds for industrialization of public land–especially massive energy projects that could pollute the water,” explains Novak. “Our indigenous wild horses are environmental barometers. If they die from drinking the water then that’s a red flag something is poisoning the water out there.”

Novak continues,”If there is a real problem on the range then bring them aid in the field–don’t round them up and warehouse them at taxpayer expense. It won’t cost much to bring them hay and water for a few months to get them through a difficult time.”

In watching videos from the roundup it should be pointed out that these wild horses were actually in excellent shape and there is no sign they have been suffering from lack of water or forage this summer. They are efficient browsers.

Even though the BLM announced last spring they would bait trap, they are not keeping their word to the American public. The BLM continues with cruel helicopter roundups.

The contractor has been criticized in the past for deadly incidents that could have been prevented. Despite objections from advocates and members of the public, the BLM continues to hire the contractor.

At the Antelope roundup advocates from The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) recorded videos showing healthy horses stampeded into traps, foals terrorized by choppers and a terrified stallion jumping out of the capture corral breaking his leg and running away. He was then euthanized by the BLM.

During the roundup wild horses were traumatized with whips and a wild mare broke her neck and died in transport.

If these historic wild horses had not been rounded up surely they would be alive with their families roaming in the West.

Outraged members of the public are calling BLM officials requesting the roundups stop. Officials downplay the cruelty and trauma, claiming these were rare incidents and touting that roundups, also known as “gathers”, only have a 1% death rate.

“We disagree with their whittled down death rate,” states Novak. “For years we have caught the BLM avoiding the correct death count and misleading Congress about the true number of horses painfully dying in roundups. During winter 2010 more than 180 wild horses died or were euthanized as a result of the roundup but the BLM tried to rewrite the numbers.”

The federal agency, funded by Congress to manage wild horses and burros, attributes the gross majority of roundup deaths to pre-existing conditions when they are obviously roundup related. If the horses weren’t rounded up they surely would not have died at that time.

The BLM often kills indigenous wild horses for being “old” and claims it was a pre-existing condition. They also kill baby horses claiming they have leg deformities. The foals can’t tolerate being stampeded for many miles on their undeveloped baby feet and legs and suffer severe injuries and are euthanized. BLM resists taking responsibility for their heinous actions.

At roundups since 2009, advocates as well as members of the press and public have been pushed back from the trap site and the holding corrals. It appears the BLM wants to hide the cruel roundups and injured animals from public view.

“The Wild Horse and Burro Program avoids transparency because of their disgusting secrets,” states Novak. “The public has a right to know what’s happening at roundups and afterwards. The public wants to know how many federally protected wild horses have been sold to the slaughter middle men since 2005.”

In 2004, a stealth rider known as the Burns amendment was attached to the Congressional Appropriations Bill to allow unlimited sales of captive wild horses over the age of ten or those who have been presented at adoption venues (live or Internet) three times–even pregnant mares and one-year-olds called yearlings.

The recent ProPublica article, written by Dave Phillips, highlights a corrupt program and interviews a pro-slaughter middle man. According to ProPublica, ‘Tom Davis buys 100s of mustangs at a time, sight unseen, for $10 a head. BLM has sold him more than 1,700 wild horses and burros since 2009.

“Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt,” he says.

“. . . but BLM’s Sally Spencer said it would be unfair for BLM to look more closely at him based on the volume of his purchases. “It’s no good to just stir up rumors,” she said.’

In 1997 Associated Press investigative journalist, Martha Mendoza, uncovered BLM’s internal corruption wherein adopted wild horses were quickly being sold to slaughter even by BLM employees who adopted them.

‘A multimillion-dollar federal program created to save the lives of wild horses instead is channeling them by the thousands to slaughterhouses where they are chopped into cuts of meat.

Among those profiting from the slaughter are employees of the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency that administers the program.’

Mendoza’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) research and the story she exposed, forced the adoption program to change their protocol and only give title to the mustangs after one year to prevent the wild horses from being sold into the slaughter pipeline.

Today the BLM sends America’s living treasures to slaughter by selling them to the middle men who sell them to slaughter. Protect Mustangs asks Congress for a freeze on roundups, a freeze on sales and a full investigation into the ‘sale authority program’ since 2005.

The roundups ramped up in 2009 with the stimulus package push for the New Energy Frontier on public land and a new mandate to wipe out the wild herds of the West known as The Salazar Plan.

Despite nationwide protests in 2009-10 against the Secretary of the Interior’s plan, the majority of wild horses and burros were ripped from their family bands, taken off their land and the stallions were sterilized. President Obama ignored public outcry and Congress eventually fell for the BLM pleas for funding to ‘help the wild horses’.

In 2010, 54 members of Congress joined Congressman Raul Grijalva requesting a moratorium on roundups and a National Academy of Science (NAS) investigation into the broken program. Somehow the BLM has taken charge of the NAS investigation now called a “study” and is feeding the NAS the information instead of the Academy conducting independent research.

Today more than 52,000 wild horses and burros are living in captivity–mostly in the Midwest as specified in the Salazar Plan. Last year the controversial Wild Horse and Burro Program cost the American taxpayer 78 million dollars. Next year the cost will increase.

Protect Mustangs requests that Congress work with advocates to find a way to return wild horses to their wild lands in the West–to create biodiversity on the range–a win-win for wild horses, livestock, landowners, tourism and energy development on the New Energy Frontier. Their presence also helps greatly to reduce wildfires.

“Shrinking the numbers of wild horses left on public land today could be dangerous,” explains Kerry Becklund, director of outreach for Protect Mustangs. “Giving already small herds fertility control will ruin genetic viability and could create inbreeding.”

The BLM’s reproduction rates don’t account much for mortality within the herd. Often foals don’t live to be two years old but the BLM spin on population has them multiplying like rabbits.

Studies show predators such as mountain lions and coyotes reduce the wild horse foal population. Last summer several young foals were killed by coyotes at a BLM holding facility near Sparks, Nevada. Even so, the BLM hides the truth about predators reducing the population and continues to repeat they have no natural predators despite the fact they do.

“Show me a real independent headcount before we talk about fertility control,”says Novak. “There aren’t enough wild horses left on the range any more. The truth is that the BLM will continue to roundup wild horses to treat them with fertility control. Roundups have been deadly so far. Roundups are NOT the answer. Biodiversity is the answer.”

Novak continues, “More than 52,000 indigenous wild horses have been captured and are warehoused in government holding. Selling ‘excess’ wild horses to kill-buyers is a heinous act and must stop now as well as the gluttony of roundups”

# # #

Media Contacts:

Anne Novak, 415-531-8454,

Kerry Becklund, 510-502-1913,

Links of interest:

AP reports & Protect Mustangs speaks out against the roundups: 3,500 Wild horses going to loose their freedom starting October 1st Federal roundup of wild horses burros starts today

ProPublica reports: All the missing horses: What happened to the wild horses Tom Davis bought from the government

Brutal report for day 1 of Nevada’s Antelope roundup. Two horses die. AWHPC video.

Day 3 of Antelope roundup. Foals are terrorized by the helicopter and chased too long on their tender hooves. AWHPC video.

Buffalo News (January 5, 1997) US effort to save wild horses leads thousands to slaughter as workers profit by Martha Mendoza

The Burns amendment

Huffington Post (October 17, 2009) Ken Salazar’s wild horse plan fuels accusations that he’s in the pocket of ranchers by Martin Griffith

News 4 KRNV Reno BLM selling to kill buyer?

Oct 5th Facebook announcement~Call to Stop the Roundups:

Protect Mustangs on the web