BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, Part Two

Here is the second of three articles we are posting in preparation for the BLM’s Advisory Board meeting in Oklahoma City on Monday. We will publish Part Three tomorrow.

The BLM meeting will be live-streamed via webcast and you can download the meeting materials at www.blm.gov/live.

Wild Horses after the Owyhee Complex roundup held at Palomino Valley Center in Nevada

Wild Horses after the Owyhee Complex roundup held at Palomino Valley Center in Nevada

A press release from BLM states: The Advisory Board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The law mandates the protection, management, and control of these free-roaming animals in a manner that ensures healthy herds at levels consistent with the land’s capacity to support them. According to the BLM’s latest official estimate, approximately 37,300 wild horses and burros roam on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states.

Currently many advocate groups have lost all faith that the Advisory Board is in any way following even a pretense of the above stated mission.

The latest appointments of pro-slaughter board members have completely shaken public confidence. Even though journalist Dave Philipps in a recent investigation published in ProPublica, clearly demonstrated that the BLM is selling horses to known kill buyers, the public is expecting the BLM Advisory board to ignore or at best minimize this scandal. In fact the BLM Advisory Board regularly makes proposals that selling off horses in holding, without limitation, is a viable solution to the expense of warehousing wild horses.

BLM claims the investigation into the matter of wild horses being sold to kill buyers is still “under investigation.” But there is no evidence to support this claim.

Boyd Spratling, acting chair of the National Wild Horse and Burros Advisory Board has an unreconcilable conflict of interest and should not be on this Board. He is also the livestock representative for the Nevada Department of Agriculture. This summer he addressed the Nevada State Agriculture Board and asked that the State Board support his recommendation to the Secretary of the Interior to reduce all wild horse herds in Nevada to the lowest possible numbers. He made this request in reposnse to BLM’s actions of restricting livestock grazing on public lands in Nevada because of drought condiditons. When BLM tries to implement any kind of livestock restrictions, the cattle interests come in and retaliate against the wild horses and burros. In this instance that included the County, the LIvestock Board, and the Nevada Department of Agriculture led by Boyd. He made this request for removing horses rather than cattle, with absolutely no site specific information to support his biased assertions that the problem with public range land in Nevada is the horses, not  the livestock. He used pictures that were years old in varied ranges, some were not even be BLM ranges, to justify his point . You can watch this travesty in the video below.

Callie Hendricksen is another questionable appointment to the BLM AdvisoryBoard made by outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (whose connection with wild horses going to slaughter actually created an incident where he threatened a reporter with a “punch in the face” for asking questions about the incident) Hendricksen’s  appointment caused so much controversy due to her pro-slaughter statements that petitions circulated demanding she be removed from the BLM Advisory Board.

Another Salazar appointee is BLM Advisory Board member Jim Stephenson. Stephenson is a big game hunter who manages the wild horse population on the Yakima reservation in Washington State. Stephenson has openly called for slaughter of wild horses, noting that the “slaughter market” is what has kept wild horse numbers down.

The BLM Advisory Board will need to address some serious issues in the coming year. It is concerning that so many members of the Board appear to have conflicts of interest. The above mentioned individuals are just a few whose involvement on the Board must be seriously challenged.

Wild Horses in Nevada

Wild Horses in Nevada

Present at the meeting will also be Joan Guilfoyle, BLM Wild Horse and Burro “Chief.” At a recent Resource Advisory Council meeting (RAC) in Nevada, Guilfoyle demonstrated a basic lack of knowledge of the program itself. When asked simple questions from RAC members, over and over Guilfoyle had to emal, presumably back to her office,  to obtain information. Even then, unbelievably, the information she presented was inaccurate and false.

Here is an example from a previous post:

As an example: “One of the most interesting pieces of misinformation came from Joan Guilfoyle, BLM Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program. When asked about the cost of holding the 50,000 animals that BLM has taken off the range (the actual cost of which is about 44 million dollars) Guilfoyle did not know the answer and had to email offsite to get it. With all of the interest focused on warehousing wild horses and burros you would think that the Chief of the program would have that cost memorized. Anyway she quoted the figure to disbelief from the RAC members and then stated that included the cost of removals. It doesn’t. The 44 million dollars is just for holding costs. The actual “cost” of feeding or caring for the animals is not broken down in an easy to locate format. However, anyone can figure out that  it does not take 44 million to feed horses BLM claims are in “lush pastures.” The 44 million does include INITIAL feezemarking, vaccines and wormers and transportation. It also includes the fees to “administer” the holding program (I think the colloquial term is “fat”). It does NOT include the cost of removals, or roundups, which have their own “piece of the pie.”  See pie chart below.

Budget for 2013 BLM WH&B program

Budget for 2013 BLM WH&B program

Those attending BLM Advisory Board meetings may be surprised to discover that the Board discussions span only two topics as a general rule: 1) the cost of holding, and 2) an assertion of “over-population” of wild horses and burros on public land. NEVER in the three years that Wild Horse Education President, Laura Leigh, has been attenting these meetings, has there EVER been a conversation that addresses mismanagement on the range (e.g., lack of any scientific range data or range improvement plans), the severe inaccuracies of boundary lines, or the fact that the appropriate management levels (AMLs) being used are absolutely inappropriate to the sustainability of America’s wild horse and burro populations. Said AMLs are only useful for perpetuating what is already wrong with the BLM program.

It is the opinion of those of us at Wild Horse Education that the BLM Advisory Board, in it’s current form, must be dismantled and rebuilt. A BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board must be made up of those who actually represent the interests of wild horses and burros on public land and have no other vested interest in any other group or governmental agency that derives profit from competing uses of public land. Once BLM creates such a Board it would then be that Board’s responsibility to create recommendations for the welfare and best practices for the wild horse and burro. It would NOT be to balance their recommendations with those of other users, that is the agencies separate responsibility. (Can you imagine the mining commission or livestock council creating recommendations based on balance with wild horse use?) It is standard to require a “non conflict of interest” policy for ANY advisory board. A serious ethics crisis exists at BLM. An conflict of interest policy must be authored and mandated immediately for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Without this the BLM Advisory Board is nothing more than a propaganda mechanism and has no other use. It is senseless to even speak to this Board.

Our Part Three article will be out soon.

Please note:  If you are going to submit comments send them to someone else in addition to this rubber stamp Board. See suggestions below:

Comments may also be e-mailed to the BLM at wildhorse@blm.gov if you wish to express your opinion. It is our suggestion that comments also be sent to Acing Director of the BLM: Neil Kornze E-mail: nkornze@blm.gov and your State Representatives in Congress: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

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