Critics Skeptical of US ‘Compassion’ for Mustangs

4P. Medina cc-by-nc-sa
(Note – With all due respect, of which I have none for the BLM, this attempt to put forth a “face of compassion and concern” is nothing more than wagging the tail of an attack monster. Unwilling to discuss the disappearance of thousands of wild horses, the falsification of excuses for “roundups” and the failure to allow independent verification of the location of thousands of horses in holding facilities, the BLM is asking us to believe that they have suddenly seen the light. I submit that this is a slap in the face of every person in the US that has ever raised a voice of concern about their destruction of our horses.  – Jerry)

Exmoor ponies

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is issuing new policy directives emphasizing “compassion and concern” for wild horses on federal lands in the West, in response to a growing public outcry over alleged abuse during roundups of thousands of mustangs in recent years.

Federal laws protecting wild horses since the 1970s require the government to treat them humanely when culling overpopulated herds to reduce harm to public rangeland.

But BLM officials said a series of new internal policy directives announced Friday will better protect free-roaming horses and burros by centralizing oversight and stepping up daily reports at each individual gather across 12 Western states.

“Press/media, congressional and public attention to recent gathers have compelled the BLM to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information,” one of the new directives states.

The announcement drew, at best, a chilly response from most in the horse protection community skeptical of the agency’s intentions and a harsh rebuke from the largest national coalitions, which called it a “step backward.”

“It’s an attempt by BLM to address criticism, but will do nothing to change the practices on the ground at the roundups,” said Deniz Bolbo, spokeswoman for the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign made up of more than 50 groups.

Among other things, helicopter contractors will have to take extra care not to separate slower young animals from their mothers during roundup stampedes.

The new orders also require the agency to make sure the public has reasonable access to observe the roundups, in compliance with federal law. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco recently granted a horse advocacy group’s appeal and ordered the BLM to review its practices to ensure it didn’t violate the First Amendment by keeping some critics away from a 2012 gather in Nevada.

“At all times, the care and treatment provided by the BLM and contractors will be characterized by compassion and concern for the animal’s well-being and welfare needs,” wrote Edwin Roberson, assistant director of the BLM for Renewable Resources and Planning.

Acting BLM Director Mike Pool said the changes represent “significant and substantial improvements” aimed at ensuring the “humane treatment of animals that are gathered on public rangelands.”

“At the end of the day, we need to find better ways to manage for healthier animals and healthier rangelands so that we can keep these symbols of the American West on our nation’s public lands,” he said.”

BLM spokeswoman Michelle Barret told The Associated Press, “All of this is in response to public concerns that were raised in a number of gathers. … The welfare issues, the humane animal treatment during gathers, we realized that we needed to step it up here and address some of the public concerns.”

Laura Leigh, president of the Nevada-based Wild Horse Education, who appealed her case to the 9th Circuit, is glad BLM is addressing the roundup concerns but doesn’t “hold much hope that I will witness much change.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” added Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs in Berkeley, Calif.

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign founder Neda DeMayo criticized part of the new policy that specifies BLM treat horses “consistent with domestic livestock handling practices.” That’s a significant step back from the standard BLM Nevada Director Amy Lueders established in a December 2011 memo that said it should be consistent with “domestic horse handling procedures,” she said.

“Although domestic horse handling practices are a step above the livestock industry, wild horses are neither domestic horses nor livestock. They are wild animals and as such must be humanely managed as a wildlife species on the range where they belong,” DeMayo said.

About half of the estimated 37,000 horses and burros on federal lands are in Nevada. BLM maintains that the range can sustain only about 26,000 and conducts roundups regularly to try to get closer to that number. But the practice is almost always contentious.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is stepping down in March, has called wild horse management “the most difficult issue we have dealt with” in his four-year tenure.

“We’ve had hundreds of meetings on it and there are still a lot of problems,” Salazar told The Gazette of Colorado Springs last fall. He made the comment after apologizing for threatening to punch a Gazette reporter who asked him about problems with the wild horses at a campaign event for President Barack Obama.

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • sherriey

    yeah, right, sure….believe it when i see it!!!! horse-pucky!
    just trying to CYA’s!!
    believe this…then what next!

    February 4, 2013
  • Arlene

    all i can say is , the only Good BLM is a eradicated BLM…………………

    February 4, 2013
  • Jade

    This is one of those times when MY response to the BLM would be “Don’t piss on my leg and then try to tell me it’s raining!” This is an affront to every horse advocate out there – and especially to people like Laura Leigh who has devoted the last 3-4 years of her life to being out there doing videos of the abuse, documenting the cruelty, and taking the BLM to court (and winning!) with charges and video proof of the inhumane treatment these past years! I would have been more impressed if they’d said, “Oops, you caught us – we’ll clean it up….” than to come with this false “concern” is downright insulting!! We advocates do NOT have STUPID on our foreheads! Okay – now shoving my soapbox back under the computer desk! LOL

    February 4, 2013
  • Robynne Catheron

    We shall see, but I don’t believe a word of it.

    February 4, 2013
  • Debbie Knebel

    For some reason, I keep thinking of the yearly roundup of the Ponies on Chicateague and what a HUGE boom to the tourist economy while caring for their wild ponies. Would it be possible to have round-ups that were done with horses that people could pay to be a part of….or observation points that non-riders could attend – somehow to make it a “last chance to be a part of the wild west” event. The helicopters are certainly inhumane.

    February 4, 2013
  • Mustang man

    Just more talking without speaking once again from the BLM. This “New” directive is no differen then the last ever how many they have come up with. I bet if we looked far enough back it was even stated just as it has been in the past.
    The BLM is masters of print without saying anything.

    February 4, 2013
  • LNorman

    The horses are being stolen from their legal domain. This is kleptocracy. Taxpayer $’s are feeding the monster. Nothing about stampedes is humane and stampedes themselves are illegal in the first place. MORATORIUM – BLOCK THE TRAP PENS – DEMAND JUSTICE

    February 4, 2013
  • Lynn

    total bunk, as the saying goes if you can dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS. Unfortunately for the American taxpayers we are still struggling for a strong foot hold. But the BLM must acknowledge that we are no longer baffled by their BS and will not be dazzled at their attempts at brilliance. We will fight for our horses and burros until they are protected and free once again!

    February 4, 2013
  • jan

    all horses deserve and should have our respect…period!

    February 6, 2013
  • pepper

    It would be VERY helpful if the webmaster would post contact info for each article posted so we may make our voices heard to those who CAN effect changes in policy.

    February 6, 2013