The first Bureau of Land Management (BLM) National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting of the year will take place in Grand Junction Colorado October 17-19, with a field tour of the Little Book Cliffs Herd Management Area on the 17th and the meeting on the 18-19. Public comments are tentatively scheduled for 3 pm on the 18th.
This is the first meeting since members of the Advisory Board (with the exception of our colleague Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation, who is the board's humane advocate) voted in November 2016 to recommend that the BLM kill the 45,000 horses in holding. The public outcry was swift and fierce, and the BLM quickly clarified that it had no plans to follow the Board's recommendation to kill the horses.
Then the election happened and a new Administration rode into town. (Literally- as self professed horse "lover" and horse slaughter proponent Ryan Zinke rode a horse to his first day of work as Interior Secretary.)
Fastrack to May 2017, and the release of the Interior Department/BLM Fiscal Year 2018 budget request to Congress, which asks Congress to lift the current prohibitions on destroying healthy wild horses and burro and selling these federally-protected animals for slaughter.
Zinke has made horse slaughter a top priority of his administration despite the fact that 80 percent of Americans oppose the cruel practice. And he's got traction in the House, which is expected to pass a 2018 spending bill that would allow horse slaughter plants to operate in the U.S. and the authorize the BLM to kill up to 92,000 wild horses in holding facilities and on the range.
It's now up to the Senate to ensure that the will of the people to protect America's horses is honored.
Make no mistake - this is an uphill battle as the Big Ag forces that are pushing for horse slaughter are powerful and wealthy and hold sway with many lawmakers in Congress. The only way to counter the this special interest lobby is with the power of the people, so a strong show of support at the Advisory Board meeting is required.