As many of you know, when I spend a lot of time in my chair replying to someone, I take the opportunity to share with others. Someone had suggested I educate myself prior to jumping on this wild horse bandwagon. Here was my reply:
Kind sir, this bandwagon I have been riding on since the 2004 Burns Amendment to the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. Regardless of the statements appeasing the public from Washington, the bottom line is the Burns Amendment has eradicated over thirty years of federal protection for wild horses, allowing the BLM to sell older (9+) and unadoptable animals at livestock auctions, where they often have been and will be picked up by kill buyers. A plan for this sale/kill authority had been in the works for a few years and had been defeated time and again due to public outcry, then slipped in the slippery 2004 Amendment, going against public wishes, and worse- knowledge. Does that sound right or appropriate to anyone?
In addition, our wild mustangs and burros which cross unseen boundaries from BLM to private or other gov't lands are also at the most risk, as they are labeled as "estrays", where they are then rounded up and sold at auction to the highest bidder (horses by the pound fetch big $ overseas still) -No fabrication but stark reality. I've read the Burns Amendment and will share with you a link of what I wrote about it and it's history, I will also share a link for the WH&B Act. I've shared it before, but happy to do it again. They're both in my Notes, as well as many other write-ups I've done while sitting on this wagon for the last seven years.
What moved me into action and writing/researching/educating about the wild horse plight was in 2008 when a secret Federal/BLM document was uncovered through The Freedom of Information Act, where plans were set in place by our own Government to slaughter thousands of our captive wild horses- animals entrusted in their care. This I read in detail right down to the nitty-gritty details of having psychologists on board to counsel workers affected by putting down healthy animals- (horses and burros that 'said agency' is to protect wild horses from harassment and death). I read every horrifying word. I've read the 1971 WH&B Act, while I personally may not agree with every word, like what's been pointed out, it was more protection, since the 1978 and 2004 Amendments, then what is offered now. I don't speak without a clear understanding and education.
BLM regional people managing these horses directly are not bad people, and as many who follow my page know I often support those working directly with the mustangs, especially those here in Oregon. It's the queen bee in Washington that needs to be straightened out, beginning with DOI/Salazar. But you bring up a good point. I too think BLM as a whole is over-burdened with land management on too many facets whether it be above or below ground acres. Wild horse and burro management should be moved to a different entity caring for our equids with only their best interest in mind first, and on their own designated lands... the rest of the 240 million above ground acres can be multi-managed... but NOT the 54 million horse and burro acres.
But perhaps you're right, perhaps instead of merely restoring original intent of the WH&B Act prior to the amendment secretly slipped into Appropriations without public review or comment- we should actually RESTRUCTURE the WH&B Act with more effective wording to better and more adequately protect and preserve them for future generations with more effective management, where lands set aside for wild horses and burros are managed with them as priority on the lands first and foremost; no more "zero'ing out" of herds without an independent scientific analysis and public knowledge; no more "taking" wild horse management lands; in fact- giving back the 19 million acres back to wild horse and burro management (we wouldn't have this problem of 50,000+ mustangs in gov't holding from Kansas to Texas with those herd management lands returned); and also further protect the horses that may roam onto non-BLM lands, labeled as "estrays" and sent to auction.
Thank you for the enlightenment.
Burns Amendment: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150294631937776
Keeping the Wild in our West,
Sonya, aka Mustang Meg