RBC I “The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) announcement of plans for managing wild horses on public lands is not only disturbing but highlights their commitment to managing wild horses to extinction,” stated Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation (TCF).
Four of the seven proposals being researched at taxpayer expense include permanent sterilization of stallions and/or mares. While the BLM claims it is “committed to developing new tools that allow us to manage this program sustainably and for the benefit of the animals and the land,” and “for the enjoyment of generations to come,” their proposed solutions are contrary to that goal, the TCF statement said.
Permanent sterilization of wild horses on the range would continue to undermine the already threatened genetic viability of our remaining herds, it said, adding that under current plans, the BLM would manage 78 percent of herds at a level below that required to ensure genetic viability (150-200 adult horses).
Permanent sterilization is inconsistent with the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act, which requires managing for sustainable herds, Kathrens said, adding that permanent sterilization is counter to that mandate and would damage the social band structure that has allowed wild horses in North America to thrive.
Earlier this year, representatives from several wild horse and rangeland preservation organizations met in Washington, D.C. ,with BLM Director Neill Kornze and BLM Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Planning Mike Tupper to discuss possible solutions to BLM’s ongoing dilemma regarding management of wild horses and burros.
The proposals presented included strategies for increasing the number of mares vaccinated with PZP to a level that will begin to impact population growth rates, and measures to authorize and encourage voluntary livestock grazing permit retirement in Herd Management Areas.
The groups also recommended repatriation of wild horses in BLM holding facilities to Herd Areas that have been zeroed-out. These proposed solutions would provide an immediate savings to the BLM.
Mike Tupper promised to respond to TCF and the other organizations regarding the proposals but has failed to do so.
“Advocates are more than willing to work with the BLM for sustainable management of wild horses on the range,” stated Paula Todd King, Communications Director for TCF. “Thus far. the Washington, D.C., BLM is unwilling to consider creative options that would benefit both wild horse herds and the American taxpayer. “
“Safe and effective birth control for wild horses has been available for years, but BLM has chosen to use it on only a token number of mares,” Kathrens said. “The Pryor Wild Horse Herd in Montana, the McCullough Peaks Herd in Wyoming, the Little Book Cliffs and Spring Creek Herds in Colorado are managed using PZP, a reversible remotely delivered vaccine. All these herds are nearly to the point of achieving a balance between reproduction and natural mortality.
“Unlike the national BLM offices, these local field offices are working successfully with the public to create a situation where future wild horse removals are unnecessary,” Kathrens concluded. “Stonewalling of advocates and the American public by the National BLM office is counter-productive to successful management of wild horses on our public lands. I fear that their actions would lead to the extinction of the North American wild horse.”