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Salazar wild horse policies draw more criticism

June 1, 2010

Wild horse advocacy group, the Cloud Foundation, has drawn parallels between circumstances leading up to the oil spill in the Gulf and management of wild horses in the US western rangelands.

The foundation was commenting on the questioning of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar by the House Committee on Natural Resources over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Salazar, it said, came under fire for his lack of oversight on offshore drilling.

"Wild horse advocates contend that the mismanagement extends not just to an unparalleled ecological disaster at sea, but a humane, environmental and fiscal disaster on our public lands.

"Wild horses and burros are being rounded up off their legally designated homes on Western ranges while extractive industries are allowed to monopolise public lands at enormous expense to the American taxpayer and the environment.

Foundation representatives Makendra Silverman and Anne Novak accused Salazar of being no friend of wild horses.

"Under his leadership at the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has retained the same entrenched bureaucrats who continue to run the wild horse and burro programme into the ground," they said in a statement.

"Salazar has continued the Bush-era policy of massive wild horse removals off public land leading to the demise of America's wild herds - burdening the taxpayer with a bill of $US3.5 million per month for the 37,000 now incarcerated wild horses.

"Since Salazar's appointment, over one dozen herds have been zeroed out with at least another five on the chopping block for fiscal year 2011.

"Destruction and death of the animals the American public cherishes have been Salazar's hallmark/brand as Interior Secretary," said Katie Fite, biodiversity specialist for Western Watersheds.

"He failed to protect wolves and sage grouse, and oversaw the brutal Calico wild horse roundup and many others."

The Cloud Foundation said it continued to seek the department's assurance that the elimination of wild horse and burro herds across the West is not motivated by extractive industries.

"This is difficult to believe because tens of thousands of privately owned livestock are grazing on herd management areas across the West and oil and gas exploration is rampant in some herd areas," Silverman and Novak said.

"The country needs an Interior Secretary that will do more than wear a cowboy hat and talk tough in front of cameras," said Dr Nicole Rosmarino, wildlife programme director for WildEarth Guardians.

"Salazar promised to be the new sheriff in town but his form of policing seems to be to look the other way."



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