Press Release from the Cloud Foundation. November 11, 2008
For immediate release
A proposal under consideration by the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program could result in the death of 33,000 wild horses the Bureau has removed from public lands and placed in holding facilities. Citing a “budget crisis” the BLM says they can no longer afford to feed the animals they have rounded up and are considering euthanizing them.
“This solution to a crisis of their own making is unacceptable and unthinkably cruel,” stated Ginger Kathrens, Director of The Cloud Foundation, named in honor the wild stallion, Cloud, whom she has documented for PBS’s Nature series since his birth in 1995.
The Bureau of Land Management has reduced the population of wild horses on American public lands by 40% since 2000 according to the recently released Government Accounting Office report. Because of the massive scope of round-ups over the past eight years, the BLM now has over 33,100 wild horses in holding, and the costs for feeding the animals are literally eating up their budget. The BLM currently spends a projected 74% of their taxpayer-funded budget to hold wild horses that have been removed from public lands.
The reason BLM often gives for the massive round ups is a lack of forage on the range. “What a cruel irony,” Kathrens states. “The BLM has led the public to believe that round ups are necessary because the horses might die of starvation on the range. All you have to do is look at the pictures at these round ups. The horses are in great shape, but now may die, not because of a lack of food on the range, but because of BLM mismangement.”
Wild horse advocates have long contended that the BLM has bowed to pressure from livestock permittees who want public lands for cattle grazing and not for wild horses or other wild life. Now oil and gas development further threatens the few remaining wild horses. Only about 25% of wild horse herds are currently large enough to be considered genetically viable.
The National BLM Advisory Board for the Wild Horse and Burro Program will hold a meeting on Monday, November 17th in Reno, Nevada and will discuss the BLM euthanasia plan. The public is encouraged to attend and share their comments.
“This board is stacked against wild horses,” says Carol Walker, equine photographer and author of Wild Hoofbeats. “It is possible that they will condone euthanasia for healthy wild horses that belong to the American people,”
Over 19 million acres originally designated for wild horse use are currently empty of horses. The Cloud Foundation recommends the return of healthy wild horses to these ranges wherever possible. “Without immediate action to stop the BLM from continuing to mismanage wild horses, America may lose its mustangs forever,” Kathrens concludes.
Wild horse footage and photos available for media use upon request
Update: Madeleine Pickens, wife of T. Boon Pickens, is arranging to adopt most or all of the horses that are kept in the holding pens. Which is upwards of 30,000! What an amazing woman. Read more here.
Remember that the remaining horses still need our help to keep them safe, and free.