On Wednesday, September 2nd and Thursday September 3rd, the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will meet at the Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel to discuss “issues relating to the management and protection of wild horses and burros on Western public rangelands.”
This public meeting is important because apparently, the BLM had been bullied into new mandates that are bad for horses, bad for the land, bad for ranchers, and good for nothing.
The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act provides the BLM with the authority to carry out certain responsibilities relating to the free-roaming horse population. The law mandates they be protected and managed to ensure healthy herds that the land can sustain.
According to the BLM’s press release, the public “may address the Advisory Board on Thursday, September 3, from 10:30 a.m. to noon local time. Individuals who want to make a statement at Thursday’s meeting should register in person with the BLM by 10:15 a.m. local time, on that same day at the meeting site. Depending on the number of speakers, the Board may limit the length of presentations, set at three minutes for previous meetings.”
Speakers should submit a written copy of their statement to the BLM at the addresses provided in their press release or bring a copy to the meeting. The entire meeting will be livestreamed at BLM’s website.
We have been following this issue closely, as many of you have. The BLM has stated that it has done all in its power to prevent the feral horse population from exploding, but it has failed in that regard. Horses and burros are virtually the only animal on federally administered lands, including domestic livestock and wildlife, whose numbers are not strictly controlled. Wildlife is managed by state-controlled predation and hunting. Livestock numbers are managed under strict terms and conditions of grazing permits as established by a congressionally mandated grazing preference.
Due to the BLM’s mismanagement, these feral horse and burro numbers have risen to unsustainable levels. Lack of resources for these levels has led to starvation, creating slow, painful deaths for many of them.
Not only are the animals hurt by this, but ranchers are as well. In BLM-designated Horse Management Areas, ranchers are driven from pre-existing allotments for grazing livestock. They are threatened and charged with trespass and impoundment (i.e. civil asset forfeiture) if they do not abide by permit terms.
This recent act is in conflict with several laws of Congress, such as the Act of July 26, 1866; the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934; the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1964; the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971; the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976; and the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978.
We encourage you to attend this meeting of the Advisory Board in Oklahoma City and submit your comments. Something must be changed, or this horse crisis will continue to plague the ecosystem, these animals, and the ranchers who simply want to do the right thing.