Lawmakers urge action over wild horses

Raúl Grijalva
Raúl Grijalva

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.

Latest research and information from the horse world.

2 thoughts on “Lawmakers urge action over wild horses

  • June 22, 2013 at 2:47 am

    Representative Grijalva should have been SOI instead of Salazar. We wouldn’t have so many horses in storage and many more would still be alive.

    Now Sec. Jewell needs to show us her ‘smarts’ and clean house at the BLM’s wild horse and burro program offices.

    It is painfully obvious the reasoning behind the massive roundups was to induce even more breeding leading to more roundups…in other words…JOB SECURITY! That is Job Security as long as they could keep pulling the wool over the eyes of lawmakers and taxpayers.

    The NAS report is quite condemning. Of course the BLM paid over $2,000,000.00 for a report to tell them what we activists have been saying for years.

    One advocacy group is spinning the report to say that the NAS recommended birth control. When I read it they simply were saying this was a tool in the toolbox that the BLM could have utilized but that the disadvantages of their use far out weighed their advantages. Drugs are never a good alternative to mother natures controls.

    Hence their recommendation to leave them alone. As the food becomes an issue they will instinctively reduce reproduction.

    We, MAN, have to be patient as the natural process will take some time with so few horses on so many acres. We could speed it up by releasing the 50k in captivity to help reduce the forage. Additional foaling won’t be an issue as the males in holding have all been gelded.

    This is not rocket science. Mother Nature gave us the blueprint. All we have to do is follow the instructions. All attempts to improve on it have failed for eons…why do we think we can improve on it now?


  • June 22, 2013 at 2:53 am

    To the Wild Horse and Burro Program and Advisory Board…

    Abraham Lincoln once said…

    ‘You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time’?


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