AUnified Call for an Immediate Moratorium on Wild Horse & BurroRoundups

Anda humane, fiscally responsible plan for preserving and protecting theiconic,

 free-roamingwild horses and burros of the American West


PresidentObama, Members of Congress and the Department of the Interior:

We,the undersigned, request major changes to the Bureau of LandManagement's (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro program.
Thismust begin with an immediate moratorium on all roundups.While we agree that the program is in dire need of reform, and weapplaud your Administration's commitment to avoid BLM’ssuggested mass-killing of horses, the plan outlined in October byInterior Secretary Ken Salazar raises numerous concerns. Theseinclude:


·Perpetuatingthe flawed assumption that wild horses and burros are overpopulatingtheir Western ranges.

Inreality, the BLM has no accurate current inventory of the 37,000 wildhorses and burros it claims remain on public lands. Independentanalysis of BLM’s own numbers reveal there may be only15,000 wild horses remaining on public lands.


·Continuingthe mass removal of wild horses and burros from their rightfulWestern ranges: The BLM intends to spend over $30 million in FiscalYear 2010 to capture more than 12,000 wild horses and burros. Thisstockpiling of horses continues even as an astounding 32,000 arealready being held in government holding facilities at enormoustaxpayer expense.


·Scapegoatingwild horses and burros for range deterioration even though theycomprise only a tiny fraction of animals and wildlife grazing ourpublic lands. Far greater damage is caused by privately-ownedlivestock, which outnumber the horses more than 100 to 1.


·Movingwild horses and burros east off their Western homelands to“sanctuaries” in the east and Midwest at an initial costof $96 million creates significant health concerns if animals adaptedto western landscapes are managed on wet ground and rich grasses.

Removingtens of thousands of horses and burros from their legally-designatedWestern ranges and moving them into government-run facilitiessubverts the intent of the 1971 Wild Free-roaming Horse and BurroAct, which mandated that horses be preserved “where presentlyfound.” A 2009 DC district court case held that “Congressdid not authorize BLM to “manage” the wild horses andburros by corralling them for private maintenance or long-term careas non-wildfree-roaming animals offthe public lands.”


Weappreciate your Administration's recognition of the horses’value as an ecotourism resource. However, the display of captive,non-reproducing herds in eastern pastures renders them little morethan zoo exhibits, further discounting the contribution to ourhistory and the future of the American West.

Webelieve that workable solutions to create a healthy “multipleuse” of public rangelands, protect the ecological balance ofall wildlife, and preserve America's wild horses and burros in theirrightful, legally protected home can be achieved. We are calling onthe Obama Administration to reform the BLM's Wild Horse and BurroManagement Program.


Weask that you reverse the current course and immediately take thefollowing actions:


1)      Placea moratorium on all roundups until accurate and independentassessments of population numbers and range conditions are madeavailable and a final, long-term solution is formalized. 

2)Restoreprotections included in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and BurroAct. Update existing laws that protect wild horses by reopeningcertain public lands to the mustangs and burros, thus decreasing thenumber in captivity. Return healthy wild horses and burros in holdingto all available acres of public land designated primarily for theiruse in 1971. If these lands are not available, equivalent andappropriate western public lands should be added in their place.  

3)Supportfederal grazing permit buybacks. Reduce livestock grazing andreanalyze appropriatemanagement levelsfor herd management areas to allow for self-sustaining,genetically-viable herds to exist in the west. 

4)ConductCongressional hearings regarding the mismanagement of our wild herdsand further investigate the inability of BLM to correct theshortcomings of the program as audited by the GovernmentAccountability Office’s 1990, 1991 and 2008 reports.

Thank you for your consideration.


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