agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
Today, I would like to share with you a few things that make me furious about the Bureau of Land Management and our national news media.

For those of you who haven't heard me rant about this before or are perhaps completely unfamiliar with America's wild horses (and frankly, I'm always shocked at how many lifelong citizens of the American west don't realize we even have wild horses anymore), here's a sum-up. So we have wild horses and burros (that's donkeys) in several western states, right? And since the 70s they've been managed by the Bureau of Land Management (under the Department of the Interior), which also manages things like grazing rights on public lands for private ranchers, oil and mineral drilling and mining rights, and so on. The BLM is charged with the protection of our nation's public lands but also with the protection of our wild horses.

The problem is, the BLM, in my view, has a single goal for our nation's wild horses and burros, and that is their complete extermination. Take for instance the BLM documents obtained by The Conquistador Program, in which the BLM quietly and internally plans to begin mass euthanasia of healthy horses. You won't find that report in any mainstream news outlets, by the way, because nobody gives a shit. Lord knows we wouldn't want to take a five minute break from covering the unchanging fact that Michael Jackson's dead. (The BLM also continues to move forward with plans to euthanize the 30,000 horses in holding because they cost too much to keep. The obvious solution is of course to stop taking them off the range for no reason, but by creating completely fictional environmental pressures, they can create very real financial pressures, which will justify the mass slaughter they've been after all along.)

Also, there's the BLM's intention to zero out eleven more HMAs (herd management areas) in Nevada, which will reduce wild horse numbers from 620 to 0 over more than a million acres. The BLM's claim is that these horses have inadequate forage and water and that they are destroying the range, which is always what the BLM claims, but the fact is that we don't really have any science to tell us whether that's the case. The only studies that have really been conducted on the matter -- by the government itself, no less -- indicates that wild horse impact on open ranges is negligible, while horrific damage is caused by cattle and sheep. There are never actual scientific reviews of damage to rangeland and the sources of that damage before the BLM goes ahead with a roundup, not even when they intend to remove every horse from the range as they're doing here. The lack of water claim is even more difficult to justify, since the BLM has in the past claimed that ranges which support over 100,000 elk don't have enough water for 160 horses.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think there is a need for management, primarily because we've also drastically reduced the numbers of predators that would prey on these horses. (Mostly mountain lions, but I'll bet wolves wouldn't be above trying for foals, where the ranges overlap.) But the BLM isn't interested in management, and their goals are not slanted toward healthy numbers of horses and genetically viable herd numbers. They aren't interested in the horse's well-being. Before we even begin to manage, we need to know a lot of things that we just don't know: like how many horses there actually are, the causes for any health pressures in any HMA (usually if they don't have enough water, for instance, it's because cattle interests have fenced off the water holes to keep the horses out), what the horse's historic range in that area was, and so on. We don't know any of that, and we can't trust the BLM to tell us, because they have their own agenda. Really what we need, at this point, is for an organization to take over management of wild horses that isn't the BLM. One that will treat the horses like the wildlife they are instead of like stray dogs, and one that doesn't get its funding from the pockets of cattle and oil interests.

I just... okay, admittedly, I've kind of reached that point where I can't even talk about this, because there's so much ground to cover. There's so much wrong, and this is just another place where I feel like the processes of our government are out of control, are designed to lock the people out, are designed to lock reason and good sense out, and I can't stand it. I feel like there's nothing to be done because no matter how long and hard I talk about it nobody ever hears me. And all I see in the media is an endless blind repetition of "facts" provided to them by the BLM, none of which that agency can back up, because they've been called out endless times for making up their data to suit their agenda, and they just keep doing it, and nobody cares.

If you're interested in wild horse policy, protecting a piece of our history, protecting America's horse, or just want to find out more about wtf is going on, I heartily recommend the American Herds blog, which is written by some person who, though I don't know who they are, is actually my hero. The Cloud Foundation is also a good news source. Now if you'll excuse me, I'mma go cry in the corner.


agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)

December 2010

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