Dangerous times on Capitol Hill for Wild Horses – Part II

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June 21, 2016

As if last week’s appropriations action wasn’t bad enough, this week will see a stacked oversight hearing by the House Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee, which appears to be aimed at laying the groundwork for lifting the prohibition on slaughtering America's cherished wild horses and burros.  

This subcommittee is dominated by pro-slaughter, anti-wild horse members like Cynthia Loomis (R-WY), who has for years been leading the charge to reinstate U.S. horse slaughter and lift the ban on selling wild horses and burros for slaughter.

Of the five witnesses, only one -- our friend and colleague Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation --  will make the case for protecting our wild horses and burros and honoring the will of the American public, which overwhelmingly opposes horse slaughter. 

Pro-slaughter witnesses include:  

  • JJ Goicoechea is a Nevada state veterinarian and rancher. His father, public lands rancher and Nevada State Senator Pete Goicoechea, tried (unsuccessfully) to pass a bill in Nevada to exclude wild horses from the definition of wildlife. Goicoechea’s goal: to deny wild horses the right to access water in the state! The Goicoecheas pay rock bottom, taxpayer-subsidized rates to lease  large amounts of BLM land in the state for livestock grazing. Many of their grazing allotments are in wild horse Herd Management Areas. The Goioecheas have been vocally anti-wild horse and pro- roundup and slaughter. 
  • Calle Hendrickson works for a rancher-dominated “conservation” district in Colorado. The pro-slaughter cattlewoman spent one term representing the public (which overwhelmingly opposes  horse slaughter) on the BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. After she left the board, she complained on Wild Horse Range Coalition blog that the board "failed to consider the elephant in the room and discuss lethal control of the horses." She has also called for "welfare horses" to be made available for sale "without limitation" to the highest bidder, meaning tens of thousands would be purchased by kill buyers for slaughter in Canada or Mexico..  
  • The Wildlife Society is an association of fish and game and range managers who promote roundups and slaughter. The Wildlife Society espouses the scientifically incorrect claim that wild horses are a feral invasive species. The Society does not address cattle grazing as a cause of rangeland degradation; instead they focus on wild horses, which occupy just 12 percent of federal grazing lands. 
  • Steve Ellis, Deputy Director of Operations for the BLM. Expect Mr. Ellis to complain about the cost of warehousing wild horses and burros that have been removed from the range, but don’t expect him to address the National Academy of Sciences findings that show the BLM’s management practices waste taxpayer money, cause population increases and ignore scientifically proven solutions to reduce her growth, including the use of PZP which has reduced some herds to zero population growth.

We are hopeful that the more open minded members of this subcommittee will press for a real "oversight" hearing into the actual problem. It's not wild horse numbers, but agency mismanagement and failure to honor the intent of Congress and the will of the people to protect America's iconic wild horses and burros that is responsible for the current situation.

Our friend Ginger Kathrens is walking into the lion’s den, and we wish her the best of luck as the voice for our wild horses and burros and the advocacy community. 

Stay tuned for a report from the frontlines tomorrow. 

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