For Immediate Release
Aug. 28, 2017
Priscilla Feral, president, Friends of Animals 203.656.1522; email@example.com
Mike Harris, director, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program; 720.949.7791; firstname.lastname@example.org
Summit reveals heinous attitude towards America’s wild horses
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah told the wild horse summit, which was held behind closed doors in Utah last week, that wild horse advocates care more about fundraising than the animals, but of course there were no advocates there to defend themselves because they were not invited to attend. Then the coward had the gall to joke that some members of Congress believe that “every horse is Seabiscuit. Of course, the French think every horse should be Sea-Brisket.”
It is also no laughing matter that Bishop, U.S. Rep Chris Stewart, R-Utah; and Aurelia Skipwith, deputy assistant U.S. Interior Secretary for fish and wildlife and national parks, were allowed to get away with advancing their agenda of slaughtering wild horses so federally subsidized cattle and sheep ranchers can steal more land from wild horses and other wildlife.
“Instead of pro-slaughter efforts in Congress regarding wild horses, we need legislation that would allow wild horses to be returned to lands where they once roamed, and that would remove doomed cattle and sheep from wild horse herd management areas,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.
It’s also no laughing matter that today wild horses face increasingly commercialized Western public lands. Upwards of 2 million cattle graze public lands, and the government has authorized thousands of oil, gas and mineral extraction projects on federally owned properties. The result truly is a crisis for the wild horses and the environment.
These commercial activities have substantially fragmented and reduced the amount of habitat left for wild horses and other wildlife. Since the passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971, wild horses have lost an additional 41 percent of their habitat—more than 20 million acres.
Supporters of wild horse slaughter argue that Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse program is costing the nation too much money, and that culling the herd makes the most economic sense. The problem with this argument is that it is difficult for most Americans to believe that money can ever justify the killing of a magnificent, intelligent wild animal like our nation’s wild horses. And the fiscal concerns with the wild horse program are overblown. While it is true that the budget for wild horses and burros has increased to $75.7 million, this is just a fraction (about 1 percent) of the Department of Interiors’ FY2017 budget. Moreover, this amount could be trimmed if BLM increased the amount of public lands available to wild horses.
“If we are going to save the horses and other wildlife on our public lands, we need an honest discussion in Congress over reforming the laws that allow for unbridled development at the expense of wildlife,” Feral said. “Just as we don’t want our parks, schools and housing in the middle of industrial sites, we need to separate commercial activities from wildlife habitats on public lands. Given the vast amount of Western lands, wild horses and other wildlife deserve open, unfragmented land to call home.
Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization, was founded in 1957, advocates for the rights of animals, free-living and domestic around the world. www.friendsofanimals.org