The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is holding hearings that include Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ken Salazar’s budget requests for the 2011 Wild Horse and Burro program. You can listen here to Senator Landrieu (D-LA) say in part, “we are on the verge of a disaster policy.”
On Tuesday Ken Salazar will ad his testimony. You can listen to it here streamed live. He will ask for $42.5 million to purchase the first “Salazoo,” and request an additional increase of $12 million. The last request he made for additional funds to address this program was granted. The funds were not used to change policy but to ramp up the same protocol that has created the current crisis.
In Defense of Animals (IDA) has set up an action page. The page will send letters in your name quickly and easily, but action must be taken prior to Tuesday.
On April 30th a federal court will hear the arguments from IDA that the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management is violating the 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro act by currently mass warehousing wild horses on land where they did not exist in 1971. They will argue that the Act never gave authority to create the current system. A final decision is expected by May 26.
I have read several articles recently in various mainstream publications.
I find it interesting that so many of these “discussions” begin with an assumption that a protocol that was never based on fact ever functioned accurately. “Guesstimates” were used to come up with herd counts. Best “guesstimates” were used to determine where “horses were in ’71” that never took in to account the “roaming” behavior of a “free-roaming” horse or burro. Yet we begin discussions with statements such as “Since the population count in 1971…”
In 1974 an actual ground count was done. Yet the numbers found in the ground count were never used. An “adjustment” was made to the ’71 number that employed what many of us have come to call “BLM math.” It doesn’t add up.
When asked about horses in long term warehousing we get inconsistent numbers. When asked about gather expenses we get inconsistent numbers. When we look at gather schedules that have the BLM numbers on them and apply the “BLM” mathematical equation of a 20% increase, we often see increases that would imply that even the stallions must have given birth to twins that year!
There are other areas where the information provided by the BLM is “sketchy” at best. For example requests made for vet reports have no specified intake dates nor identification marks of any kind. Treatment dates are even omitted.
When you enter into a phase of dialogue and expect improvement shouldn’t that dialogue be based on facts? If the actual agency that supplies those facts is the agency that can benefit from those “facts,” then shouldn’t the information be independently verified? In simplistic terms if I gave a 5 year old with a history of lying a bag of cookies to share… I’d look to see how many he had already eaten. I wouldn’t take his word for it.
The other part of current discussion that I find troubling is the “wild v. feral” debate. It doesn’t pertain to the current discussion. The law has BLM/USFS horses designated as “wild” under their jurisdiction. The term “feral” applies to horses under other jurisdictions. Often this makes little sense as the same horse standing on one side of the Carson River in Nevada is covered under one set of protections, yet if this same horse happens to be found on the north side of the river, those protections don’t exist and a different set of rules apply. But that debate is for another day.
The current issue is should Secretary Salazar’s request for funding of his proposal be granted? Or is it time to call for an investigation into the current practices that created this situation in the first place?