National Coalition Blasts BLM for Plans to Destroy Protected Idaho Wild Horse Herd

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Intent to Turn Federally-Designated Habitat Into Holding Facility for Captured, Sterilized Mustangs a “Fraud on the American Public,” Group Says

Jarbridge, Idaho. (September 17, 2015)  . . . The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) today harshly condemned the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) plan to turn a federally-protected wild horse population in the Saylor Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) in Idaho into a herd of sterilized mustangs by castrating and spaying all the horses there.

“The BLM’s disastrous plan spells the end for the federally-protected, wild free-roaming horses in Saylor Creek,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC director. “Sterilizing wild horses alters their natural behaviors and destroys the complex social structures that make mustang populations unique.”

“The BLM’s attempt to turn a designated wild horse habitat area into a long-term holding facility for sterilized horses and call it a sanctuary is a blatant fraud on the American public,” Roy continued.

In September 2014, AWHPC and its coalition partner, The Cloud Foundation, submitted a protest of the BLM’s proposed Jarbridge Resource Management Plan (RMP), which calls for turning the wild horse population in the Saylor Creek HMA into a non-reproducing herd. The BLM announced this week that, despite the protests received from AWPC, TCF and other organizations – including Western Watersheds Project and the Wilderness Society, it was moving ahead with the RMP.

In their official protest, AWHPC and TCF contend that the plan violates the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, passed unanimously by Congress in 1971. The act declares mustangs and burros to be “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West…that enrich the lives of the American people” and establishes the policy that “wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”

Since that time, the BLM has used helicopters to round up tens of thousands of wild horses and burros from public lands, while taking away over 40 percent of their originally designated habitat.

“The BLM has turned what was intended to be a wildlife protection statute into a pest control act for welfare ranchers, who view mustangs as competition for cheap, taxpayer subsidized grazing on public lands,” Roy continued. “The plan to sterilize the Saylor Creek herd is one more step down the path of total destruction for America’s cherished mustangs.”

Under the Jarbridge RMP, the agency will allocate ten times more forage to privately-owned livestock than to federally-protected wild horses. Nationally she said that although wild horses and burros are present on just 17 percent of BLM land grazed by livestock, 80 percent of the agency’s forage allocations in wild horse and burro habitat areas go to livestock. Publicly-subsidized livestock grazing on public lands costs taxpayers as much as $500 million annually.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) mission to preserve and protect wild horses and burros in viable free-roaming herds on public lands for generations to come is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations. AWHPC’s founding organization, Return to Freedom (RTF), a national non-profit dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education and conservation, also operates sanctuaries on the Central California Coast.