We hope you all had a wonderful holiday with family and friends. A moment to appreciate the the love and warmth in your lives and at the very least a day off of work.
We want to bring you back to the “conversation” of an enforceable humane care policy.
It really does not seem like much to ask for, does it? BLM makes claims to handle animals humanely. In press release after press release we hear BLM officials make the statement “all horses were handled humanely,” after the public expresses outrage over what they see. We have conferences and meetings where BLM officials make promise after promise to create a standard. They tell us of committees and “experts” (not one of which is actually from a humane organization, all are either USDA or APHIS) working on a policy. You see the term “standard livestock practice,” not “accepted equine practice” or “accepted wildlife practice.”
According to the law BLM is managing “wild horses.” This definition was created in an Act of Congress in 1971 that declared these animals integral to the landscape. The Act was passed because of public pressure in light of the brutal practices of “mustanging” that were removing wild horses off of public land at an alarming rate. Our wild horses were going to slaughter and being brutalized.
A public awareness campaign demonstrated the need for the Federal government to step in and take jurisdiction (that battle took more than a decade to win). The federal government took over jurisdiction of wild horses as a national resource and handed the task to BLM and USFS. However there were many local people and governments (state, county) that were furious that the “resource” was no longer available for “private profit” by anyone. Many are still angry today.
Our issues today are not urging the federal government to take jurisdiction but to take actual responsible action within that jurisdiction. When you look at the manner in which the act was implemented you see a system created to literally shirk as much responsibility to the act as possible. The act was undercut and denigrated through pressure by many of the entities the act was created to curtail.
OK, so I’m a bit off track but at least you have a bit of background to todays “conversation.”
If you go to BLM’s “update” page on the Owyhee roundup you see the page devoted to answering images released to the public by non-government employees. If you look at the governments explanation and then the videos you can see a real contrast. Nowhere on BLM’s page do they say “we can do better.” They simply say all is “just fine” because they “say so.”
Here is BLM’s video addressing a “horse” that tripped jumping over the fence. They don’t show you the others that either ran into the fence or got hung up. As a matter-of-fact they do not show you the horse they say “tripped.” You need to get to 2:05 on their video to actually see the very beginning of the “incident.”
Below BLM’s video is another version. 1:13 has the same incident.
BLM also has written an “open letter” published on that update page addressing letters written by the public with the same “something that means nothing” answers.
1) Humane Treatment of Animals – The Final EA includes the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Wild Horse Gathers in Appendix A (page 132 of the EA). This SOP outlines rate of movement, distance traveled, dust abatement, water and feed requirements, loading and transportation limitations, etc. In addition, we responded to a similar public comment in Appendix G. The public comment was: “The BLM does not have a defined, clear standard for humane handling of wild horses and, as such, should not proceed until such time as an updated Standard of Humane Care Policy is implemented and clear/concise consequences for violation are in place.”
Our published response was: “The BLM has SOPs in place in Appendix A. Standard Operating Procedures for Wild Horse Gathers. BLM Contracting Officer Representatives (CORs) will be on site at all times ensuring humane treatment of wild horses. There will be an APHIS vet on site at all times to advise BLM personnel on animal health and welfare issues.”
Did anyone look to see what the SOP actually said? page 125 Are they seriously thinking this is an answer? What happened to the humane care “Intention” that The BLM attorney presented to the Judge during the Triple B case claiming it went to all districts as a beginning of a protocol? Can they seriously believe that you will swallow that? http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nv/field_offices/winnemucca_field_office/programs/wild_horse___burro/owyhee_complex_.Par.45341.File.dat/DOI-BLM-NV-W010-2012-0055-EA_PRELIM.pdf
And how about this one:
Owyhee Complex removal targets – In response to the statement that the BLM’s decision was limited to removal of no more than 544 horses from the Little Owyhee and 11 from the Owyhee HMAs, the removal and treatment numbers are described as such: etc. etc.
When BLM’s OWN press release on the roundup schedule says this:
The gather of Owyhee HMA in Nevada will seek to remove 50, rather than 11, horses because of severely limited water sources.
The horse removal number of the Little Owyhee HMA was increased from 544 to 800 because of severely limited water sources.
NOW I want to ask you this: If this was a private sector enterprise, and this was the competence level, would you see a few folks on the unemployment line?
In order to create accountability we must engage the process we have. In November we started a fundraiser to get the documentation and help move these issues through the courts. We are a bit over a third of the way to our goal.
Please donate if you can.