Open Letter on Horses & Burros to Ken Salazar
The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Dear Secretary Salazar,
On behalf of Friends of Animals, an international animal advocacy organization founded in 1957, I urge you to end roundups of free-roaming horses and burros. I also call on you to halt plans to move mustangs from their home territories in order to store them in the Midwestern and Eastern United States—or anywhere else.
Congress enacted the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 in response to a public outcry against roundups. That year, our government assured its people that horses and burros will be safe and free to live on their terms on public lands. Yet during the next 39 years, the Bureau of Land Management has misrepresented and ignored the purpose and spirit of the law to appease those who want the land for private profit. Under your watch, this ugly trend continues.
During the recent Calico roundups, horses were mercilessly chased down by helicopters, at least 77 horses died, and nearly 40 foals were aborted. Rounding up wild horses and burros is lethal. But to deprive them of the land that’s their birthright is wrong in itself.
You say the capture, sterilization, or permanent confinement of wild horses and burros will prevent overgrazing and ease taxpayers’ burden. Yet cows and other animals grazed on these lands far outnumber the horses and burros. There might be less than 15,000 free-roaming equids left. But even using the government’s higher figures, the impact of horses and burros cannot compare to the notoriously devastating ecological effects of commercial grazing.
Today, more than 36,000 wild equids are confined by our government. We pay for this. Your plan would add tens of millions of dollars to the tab, ultimately to benefit ranchers and mining interests.
Public lands are not the domain of profiteers. They belong to everyone. Leasing them at below-market rates to grazing interests makes for a classic conflict-of-interest scenario. Are you truly concerned about the degradation of the rangelands? Stop handing out grazing leases, and we could let the mustangs be. This would help the entire biocommunity to flourish.
Again, I urge you end the round up and sterilization of horses and burros on public lands. As in 1971, the public overwhelmingly supports these animals remaining free.
cc: Senator Barbara Boxer
Rep. Raul Grijalva
Rep. Nick Rahall
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