One year ago Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar stepped down from office.
Salazar will be remembered by many wild horse advocates as “the man that threatened to punch a journalist in the face.” During an interview on election day Salazar threatened to punch Dave Philipps in the face for asking questions in public about the wild horse program. Dave Philipps, assisted in his investigation by Wild Horse Education, wrote a blistering piece on 1700 wild horses sold to Tom Davis (a kill buyer) that had ties to the Salazar family, and the tax payer even paid the shipping.
Ken Salazar, a cattle rancher from Colorado, sat in office as thousands of wild horses were removed from public land faster than at any time in history. The cattle industry continues to operate with tax payer subsidized “welfare ranching” and public land has been fast tracked for “energy” projects from solar to fracking without the proper long-term consequences measured against our environment.
Listen as Salazar tells the House of Representatives that hydraulic fracking is “safe.”
Salazar was replaced by Sally Jewell. After graduating from college, Jewell worked as a petroleum engineer for Mobile Oil Corp. in the Oklahoma and Colorado oil and gas fields. Jewell later served as REI’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
Shortly after taking her position as the new Secretary of the Interior of the United States of America Jewell was asked about the wild horse and burro program. Her response was basically a “no comment” until the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) 1.5 million dollar study was released the following June. She said in an article for the Denver Post, “It’s going to help identify what’s the sustained capacity of our public lands to handle our wild horses, what is the effectiveness of things like birth control methodology to try and deal with the issue,” Jewell said Tuesday. “So we appreciate their help and we look forward to that response.”
The NAS report was released in June of 2013.
What the report says about AML (the acronym BLM uses for “appropriate management level,” or the number of horses it wants on the range):
“ In general, the handbook lacks clear protocols for evaluating habitat components other than forage availability. That is critical because without clear protocols specific enough to ensure repeatability, the monitoring organization cannot determine whether observed change is due to changes in condition or to changes in methods. Protocols should also include establishment of controls when the goal is to distinguish treatment or management effects from other causes of change.”
FINDING: On the basis of the information provided to the committee, the statistics on the
national population size cannot be considered scientifically rigorous.
FINDING: Management of free-ranging horses and burros is not based on rigorous
FINDING: Management practices are facilitating high horse population growth rates. (Large scale, non-selective removals disturb populations and increase birth rate)
These are points that wild horse advocates have been pointing out for years as the crux of the problem that has lead (as BLM did nothing and asserted advocates were simply “emotional”) to the current crisis in the program of long-term holding.
Since the issuance of that report there have been no memorandums for reform. There has been no statement of changes in policy. There has been a deafening silence on the issue from the office of Sally Jewell.
The lack of pro-active action on the part of the Secretary of Interior has created an opening for a lawsuit to be filed by the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Nevada Farm Bureau to hold the BLM to the standards that were basically set by the livestock industry to perpetuate a myth of “over population” of wild horses. The NACO suit demands that BLM remove horses to the seriously flawed “AML,” a number that keeps our wild horse population “fast disappearing” from the American landscape. The 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act was put into place to protect our horses from exactly the situation we have now. BLM’s AML is actually LOWER than the number of horses that occupied the range at the time of the passage of the Act.
We now have a dangerous situation again created by inaction. At this juncture the head of the Department of Interior must act. She must create an interim protocol that recognizes that the BLM failed wild horses and that evaluation of the lack of data and it’s implications to a fictional “AML” must be rectified. BLM must seriously defend this legal action and show us once again, that they are “in bed” with private interests.
It’s time to grow a pair BLM and stand up for what is right. It is time to “do the right thing” simply because it is right, not because of monetary interests or intimidation.
YOU can write Sally Jewell and tell her that wild horses are important to you and that she must take action NOW. The NAS report has been out for seven months now…. it’s time to admit BLM made mistakes and take action to protect our living symbol of Freedom. Contact the DEpartment of Interior HERE: http://www.doi.gov/public/contact-us.cfm
Wild Horse Education is devoted to protecting wild horses from abuse, slaughter and extinction.