Plan to roundup over 2,000 American Mustangs on Delaware- sized range, where thousands of livestock graze, contested
Reno, NV (January 10, 2011)—The Cloud Foundation opposes spending millions of taxpayer dollars to wipe out America’s wild horses. Currently the BLM plans to roundup and remove up to 2,228 alleged “excess” wild horses from the 1.3 million acre Antelope Complex in northeastern Nevada. The Foundation asks that all roundups halt until the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) completes their study and new Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) are set to prevent the American wild horses and burros from being managed to extinction. This dead of winter roundup is scheduled to begin January 20, 2011 and last for 40 days.
The Antelope mustangs’ range (to be managed principally for them in balance with other wildlife) is larger than the entire state of Delaware at 1.3 million acres, but is allocated for grazing by a monthly average of more than 7,700 head of privately-owned livestock. At the same time BLM has set the allowable level for wild horses in the Antelope Complex at only 407 animals.
“The Cloud Foundation is calling for an evaluation and reallocation of forage rights for wild horses in burros in the Antelope Valley Complex and beyond,” explains Cloud Foundation Director, Ginger Kathrens.
In 2007 BLM conducted a deadly winter roundup in the Antelope Complex, removing 847 mustangs and leading to scenes like those depicted in a series of disturbing photographs (posted online here).
Should this action go forward, the herd will be left with a predominately male sex ratio. More than 200 mares will be given the experimental infertility drug, PZP-22 that should be applied only in late winter or early spring according to experts. Drugs and sex-ratio manipulation will lead to unknown levels of social disruption among once-stable wild horse family bands as mares continually cycle with an unknown number giving birth at the wrong time of the year.
A new and relatively inexperienced roundup crew, Sun J, will conduct the roundup as contracted by the BLM. The roundup is estimated to cost at least $4.5 million and leave only one wild horse per 3,100 acres.
It is time to re-slice this pie and give wild horses their fair share of our public rangelands,” states Kathrens. “In Antelope and beyond they are given only a pitiful sliver.”
“Lack of forage is not the issue. Looking at the Antelope Complex you see allotments where 3,500 sheep are allowed to graze—but only 6 horses are allowed to live on the land,” explains Kathrens. “On another allotment where more than 450 cattle graze year round, only 40 wild horses are permitted. The bias favoring welfare livestock is shocking. BLM needs to put this and all other roundups on hold to develop sustainable policy before wild horses are managed to extinction.”
The Foundation and more than 200 other organizations and celebrities began a unified call for a moratorium on all roundups more than a year ago. In July 2010, 54 members of Congress sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar requesting a moratorium on roundups alongside a National Academy of Sciences report. Massive winter roundups such as the one planned for the Antelope Complex will leave dozens of American mustangs dead. Last year the winter Calico Roundup in Northern Nevada more than 112 died and at least 40 mares suffered late-term induced abortions from the stress of the roundup. At least two foals’ hooves literally separated from their feet, suffering an excruciating pain prior to their deaths.
BLM repeatedly blames wild horses for range damage while allowing exorbitant numbers of livestock to graze in wild horse and burro management areas. Nationwide, “welfare livestock” are estimated to do up to a billion dollars of damage to public lands annually. Again and again, healthy wild horses are removed to allow for public lands grazing leases that do not even recover their grazing program administrative costs, running in the red by at least $123 million annually. Nearly 40,000 wild horses and burros are currently held in captivity by the US government while less than half that remain in the wild on their rightful rangelands.
“Our wild horses and burros are a valuable asset to our public lands ecosystems,” explains Kathens. “They are clearly not starving, destroying their habitat or in need of ‘rescue’. It is time for the BLM to take a time out and sit down with the public to re-establish how American treasures are to be managed.”