In Defense of Animals (IDA)
After receiving thousands of protest emails from supporters of In Defense of Animals (IDA), officials in Washington DC have ordered the Bureau of Land Management to postpone the roundup 200 horses living peacefully in the Confusion Mountains in Utah (as of 1/7/09).
The agency had planned to begin the roundup next week, without public comment and without conducting a current Environmental Assessment (EA) on the impact of the plan to leave just 60-100 horses behind in this 225,000-acre public lands complex. On its website, the BLM’s Fillmore office warns the public that chasing or catching wild horses that live on BLM lands there is unlawful because “Foals, pregnant mares and older horses are easily hurt when pursued, so please allow them to live a free and un-harassed life.” Yet the BLM intended traumatize and harass these very horses by helicopter stampedes that run the animals over miles of rough terrain at full gallop speeds, often injuring and/or killing young foals, older horses and pregnant mares.
Yesterday, in an alert to its supporters, IDA exposed the BLM’s plan to evade public scrutiny in its capture of the Confusion horses. Less than 24 hours later, the BLM has completely reversed course, postponing the roundup until at least July. The agency will now conduct an Environmental Assessment and allow for public comment.
“Clearly, the BLM’s complete about-face on the Utah horse roundup is directly related to the massive public outcry,” said Eric Kleiman, IDA’s director of research, who first uncovered the BLM’s plan to evade public scrutiny of the Utah roundup. “The public is sending a strong message to the Obama Administration that it is time to stop the assault on our nation’s wild horses and burros. The BLM’s mismanaged, wasteful and inhumane wild horse and burro program must be reformed, and the first step is a moratorium on unnecessary and inhumane roundups.”
Meanwhile, the BLM’s assault on the wild horses living in the Calico Mountain Complex in northwestern Nevada continues. As of yesterday, 424 Calico horses had been stampeded by helicopters into capture pens, leaving over 2,000 more of these iconic animals in the BLM’s sights over the next 30 days. At least two Calico horses have died so far and one foal has been orphaned.
A December 23, 2009 decision by federal court Judge Paul Friedman — in a lawsuit brought by IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and renowned children’s author Terri Farley — found that such long-term holding facilities are likely illegal, and suggested that the BLM postpone the Calico roundup.
If the Obama Administration’s BLM continues its current course initially charted by the Bush Administration, it will capture and remove nearly 12,000 wild horses in FY 2010 from their Western ranges and place them in Midwestern holding facilities, where they will join the 35,000 horses already stockpiled at taxpayer expense. At that time, the number of horses in BLM warehouses will far exceed those left on the range.
Wild horses comprise a minute fraction (0.5 percent) of grazing animals on public lands, where they are outnumbered by cattle at least 200 to 1. Currently the BLM manages more than 256 million acres of public lands of which cattle grazing is allowed on 160 million acres; wild horses are only allowed on 26.6 million acres this land, which must be shared with cattle.
Eric Kleiman, IDA Research Director, 717-939-3231, firstname.lastname@example.org
Deborah Peterson, ReinFree, 801-580-7441, email@example.com