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Would we want our children or grandchildren to see how America's horses are treated by our public agencies?

Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates'



June 4, 2010

On October 7, 2009, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that included a number of proposals that the Secretary suggested would put BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program on a "more sustainable track."

"The Secretary's Initiative," as it became to be known, received mixed reviews from advocates and the public, and a couple of elements were regarded by many as controversial. BLM's presentation of the Secretary's Initiative can be viewed here, however the discussion presented on BLM's web site is sorely lacking in detail.

In response to the public's perception of his Initiative, the Secretary engaged the services of the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution. The matter was researched and Mr. J. Michael Harty compiled a report identifying various issues and "stakeholders" associated with the Secretary's Initiative. Mr. Harty's report also included specific recommendations.

The Bureau of Land Management subsequently posted a page on its web site, BLM Director Seeks Input for New Direction in National Wild Horse and Burro Program. This web document includes links to three other documents:

In general the work performed by the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution and Mr. Harty was regarded as productive. However some errors were noted in Mr. Harty's official report and some of the stakeholders, particularly advocates, have expressed concerns that there appears to be no process in which to make needed corrections.

In response to those concerns a "rebuttal" to specific elements of concern that were found in the report has been composed and is posted under the title,

A public round table workshop is scheduled on June 14th in Denver, Colorado, to address the Secretary's Initiative. Information about this workshop and the Advisory Board meeting that follows can be found here

Note: In his "BLM Director Seeks Input for New Direction in National Wild Horse and Burro Program" message, Director Bob Abbey indicated, "... certain topics and options will be off the table, including the euthanasia of healthy excess animals or their sale without limitation..." What that means is that BLM will not consider euthanizing healthy animals or selling animals unless buyers sign a statement of intent indicating that they aren not procuring the horses for resale to slaughter.

The reality is that Mr. Abbey could not currently put euthanasia and sale without limitation "on the table" since Congress placed strings on this year's appropriations that prevent BLM from engaging in those options. However those restrictions expire at the end of this fiscal year. Furthermore, even now there is no law that prevents someone who purchases horses through BLM's "Sale Authority" from selling horses to a second party who could in turn sell horses to slaughter so long as the original buyer did not construct a chain of sales as a means to subvert the statement of intent.

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