The head of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) accuses Interior secretary Ryan Zinke’s department of effectively declaring war on America’s wildlife.
The society’s president and chief executive Wayne Pacelle, in his blog A Humane Nation, listed a series of recent moves by the Department of Interior that worry the HSUS.
“Last week, its leaders signaled that the department may dismantle a rule to restrict ruthless predator killing practices on some 20 million acres of National Park Service lands in Alaska. Grizzlies and wolves were under threat elsewhere, too.
“In his proposed budget for the department, Zinke indicated that he wants all options on the table in terms of wild horse and burro management in the West, including mass slaughter of the animals. And that came just a short time after the agency announced that it would delist grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region, virtually guaranteeing the first trophy hunting season on bears there in 40 years.”
Pacelle continued: “Taking aim at wild horses and burros in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings, wolves on national preserves, and grizzly bears around Yellowstone should stir up just about every animal advocate in the nation.
“Announcing them in a series, with each one representing a turnaround in US policy, is a provocation. It’s something of a declaration of war on wildlife and also on the animal protection movement.
“For the past 20 years, the BLM has relied on rounding up and removing horses and burros from the range as their primary population management strategy, despite pleas from the horse protection community, the National Academy of Sciences, and Congress to shift their management strategy away from removals to something that would actually work to solve rangeland problems.
“Serious-minded voices called for fertility control, as a way of actively managing populations but keeping horses and burros on the range.
“The agency never heeded this advice, except in very limited applications. As a result, rangeland populations have indeed continued to increase, as have captive populations in pens, who got there through government round-ups.
“No one wants to hear that the agency and Congress are advocating for the mass killing of animals to save money. Instead, the agency and Congress are trotting out the canard that mass killing is good for the horses and burros – kind of like saving a village by destroying it.
“They’re regurgitating unsubstantiated allegations that animals on the range are starving en masse. It’s a case of fake news applied to the circumstances of 70,000 wild horses and burros on more than 200 million acres of public land.”
Pacelle said there was one common denominator to all of these turnabouts – the agency was favoring special interests over public interest.
He urged concerned members of the public to write to the agency to outline their concerns.
“It’s early in the administration, and there’s plenty of time to change course. The American public will laud them if they do, but it won’t forget if they continue to pursue these severe anti-wildlife policies.”