A letter from 30 lawmakers is urging US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to reform the Bureau of Land Management’s controversial wild horse and burro management program.
It follows a recent National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review, which criticised the bureau’s program as being costly, unsustainable, and employing strategies which encouraged high population growth among wild horses across the western rangelands.
Arizona representative Raúl Grijalva wrote the letter, co-signed by a bipartisan group of 29 other House members, asking Jewell to make the reforms a priority.
An identical letter signed by more than 30,000 Americans, including celebrities such as Robert Redford, Carole King, Ali MacGraw, Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Noah Wylie, Wendie Malick, Betty White and Valerie Bertinelli, has also been sent to Jewell.
“I’ve been asking for changes for years, and NAS has confirmed that we can save taxpayer money and horses’ lives at the same time by improving this program,” Grijalva said. “We have the information we need. Now it’s time to do something with it.”
Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation, said Jewell had shown a true commitment to the conservation of America’s unique natural heritage, and he hoped she would give America’s wild horses the attention they deserved.
“Congress had the wisdom to pass the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971. We can’t let mismanagement and waste be the only legacy of that far-sighted decision.”
Grijalva wrote that the bureau had pursued an unsustainable and highly controversial approach to wild horse management.
“In fact, the US Government today maintains more wild horses in captivity than remain free in the wild.
“This is an untenable situation, both for America’s wild horses and for American taxpayers.
“Since 2009, the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program budget has doubled as the agency escalated its unsustainable roundup-remove-and-stockpile approach to wild horse management.
“Meanwhile, the BLM has grossly underutilized proven, cost-effective and humane alternatives, such as fertility control, that keep wild horses on the range and avert the need for roundups and removals.
“We are hopeful that your appreciation of the outdoors will lead you to embrace and appreciate the iconic wild horses and burros of the American West and share the commitment of the majority of Americans to protecting them.
“This is a solvable problem, but it requires a commitment to fixing what is not working,” he wrote.
Florida Representative C.W. Bill Young, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, was the only Republican to sign the letter.
The full letter can be read here.