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Wild Horses and Burros: Congressional Update

And scroll down for info about a big rally
in Washington DC on March 25!

On March 9, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Bob Abbey testified before the House Appropriations Committee to justify BLM’s FY 2011 budget, which includes an additional $12 million for the controversial BLM Wild Horse and Burro program, as well as $42.5 million to purchase the first of several so-called “preserves” in the Midwest or East to house horses rounded up and removed from their native western ranges.

wild horsesAt a March 3 Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing (available online here), Senators Murkowski (R-AK) and Landrieu (D-LA) addressed the wild horse issue. Vice chair Murkowski voiced her "concern" about the direction of the agency, and moving more horses to the Midwest and East instead of managing them on their Western range.

Senator Landrieu asked the Secretary what was being done to restore the millions of acres the wild horses have lost over the years. The Senator expressed her deep concerns over the inhumane roundups during winter weather of ice and snow, and pointed out that the "horses only have a measly 31 million acres" out of 500 million acres overseen by the Department of Interior. Secretary Salazar responded that he's aware of the concerns, and that he is "not wedded" to his proposal.

Several government reports have documented waste and mismanagement in this agency’s wild horse and burro management program. In 2008, a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the agency’s wild horse and burro program was not sustainable as long as the costs for off-the-range holding facilities continued to overwhelm the program's budget. These long-term holding facilities eat up two-thirds of BLM’s budget, while on-the-range management – which Congress intended – comprises than five percent.

After IDA sent an alert regarding the Appropriations hearings, you made your voices heard – over 6,000 faxes were sent to members of the House and Senate Subcommittees. Thanks to you, the Subcommittee members know of the intense national concern about our magnificent wild horses and burros.

What You Can Do

Listed below are the phone numbers of the Senators and Representatives on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittees. If your Senator(s) and/or Representative are members of these committees, please call them. Urge that any appropriation for the Wild Horse and Burro Program include these requirements for reform:

  • A suspension of roundups in all but truly emergency situations;
  • A prohibition on the use of any funds to euthanize healthy horses or sell horses directly or indirectly to slaughter;
  • Prohibition of any funding for any so-called “preserves” as outlined in Secretary Salazar's plan, such as the $42.5 million one currently proposed;
  • Phasing out long-term holding and shifting BLM resources toward managing horses on the range in a humane and minimally intrusive manner as Congress intended.

Phone numbers: Democratic Senate Subcommittee Members

Dianne Feinstein (Chair) (CA), 202-224-3841
Robert Byrd (WV). 202-224-3954
Patrick Leahy (VT), 202-224-4242
Byron Dorgan (ND), 202-224-2551
Barbara Mikulski (MD), 202-224-4654
Herb Kohl (WI), 202-224-5653
Tim Johnson (SD), 202-224-5842
Jack Reed (RI), 202-224-4642
Ben Nelson (NE), 202-224-6551
Jon Tester (MT), 202-224-2644

Republican Senate Subcommittee Members

Lamar Alexander (Ranking) (TN), 202-224-4944
Thad Cochran (MS), 202-224-5054
Robert Bennett (UT), 202-224-5444
Judd Gregg (NH), 202-224-3324
Lisa Murkowski (AK), 202-224-6665
Susan Collins (ME), 202-224-2523

Democratic House Subcommittee Members

Norman D. Dicks (WA) (Chair), 202-225-5916
James P. Moran (VA), 202-225-4376
Alan B. Mollohan (WV), 202-225-4172
Ben Chandler (KY), 202-225-4706
Maurice D. Hinchey (NY), 202-225-6335
John W. Olver (MA), 202-225-5335
Ed Pastor (AZ), 202-225-4065
David E. Price (NC), 202-225-1784
David R. Obey (WI) (Ex Officio), 202-225-3365

Republican House Subcommittee Members

Michael Simpson (ID) (Ranking), 202-225-5531
Ken Calvert (CA), 202-225-1986
Steven C. LaTourette (OH), 202-225-5731
Tom Cole (OK), 202-225-6165
Jerry Lewis (CA) (Ex Officio), 202-225-5861

Rally for wild horses and burros
Washington DC - March 25

Join advocates from across the country at the March for Mustangs, March 25-26, in Washington DC. Advocates will meet across the street from the White House to hear speakers at a news conference, then rally and march to the BLM offices with signs and banners calling for change. Advocates will also be provided with materials and information, and attend scheduled meetings with their congressional representatives calling for reform of this tax-wasting and inhumane program.

Over 25 protests have taken place from coast to coast and now the hoofbeats are headed to Washington DC. Please join the March for Mustangs to save these animals and to reform this broken program.

Date/Time: March 25, 1:00-3:00pm, news conference and speakers at 1:30pm (Hope Ryden, author "America's Last Wild Horses," Filmmaker Ginger Kathrens, Author RT Fitch, In Defense of Animals representative, and many more- including special guests to be announced!)

Where: Lafayette Park located directly across from White House. At 3:00 p.m. protesters will march with homemade signs and large banners to the BLM office at 1849 C Street.

Mustangs on the Hill, Part II: On March 26 we’ll brief people on meeting with their Senators and Congressional Representatives to save the mustangs and burros. Please schedule an appointment with your U.S. Senators and Representative for Thursday morning or Friday. More details are posted on the March for Mustangs’ events calendar.

For more information click here.

Update On IDA’s Lawsuit Challenging Wild Horse Policy
Hearing scheduled for April 30

In December 2009, in a lawsuit filed by IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and children’s author Terri Farley, federal Judge Paul L. Friedman preliminarily found that BLM’s long-term holding facilities, where the vast majority of these warehoused horses exist, are likely illegal.  A hearing before Judge Friedman is currently scheduled for April 30.

In Defense of Animals, located in San Rafael, Calif., is an international animal protection organization with more than 85,000 members and supporters dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of animals by protecting their rights and welfare. IDA's efforts include educational events, cruelty investigations, boycotts, grassroots activism, and hands-on rescue through our sanctuaries in Mississippi, Mumbai, India, and Cameroon, Africa.

In Defense of Animals is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We welcome your feedback and appreciate your donations. Please join today! All donations to IDA are tax-deductible.

In Defense of Animals
3010 Kerner, San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel. (415) 448-0048 Fax (415) 454-1031

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