Organizers of a wild horse summit taking place in Utah this week are claiming they’ve excluded the public and key advocates like Friends of Animals (FoA) to “protect participants and promote dialogue.”
The main concern of a national wild horse summit should be the protection of wild horses and keeping them roaming free on western public lands, not manipulated by humans by roundups or forcibly drugging them with fertility control. Especially since they are facing threats like never before — the current administration’s dark agenda includes killing wild horses in holding facilities who should have never been rounded up in the first place.
But the truth is the organizers don’t want the public to get wind of their pro-slaughter agenda and wild horse extinction plan that placates cattle and sheep ranchers, something Friends of Animals has been railing against in the court room for years.
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.
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.
Adding insult to injury is the so-called advocacy groups who are invited to the table profit from the roundups of wild horses and are assets to the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse adoption program. They do not have any interest in ensuring wild horses roam free on Western public lands. The Wild Mustangs Foundation actually is raising money to keep wild horses in a zoo-like setting.
We are not surprised by this farce of a summit as FoA experienced firsthand the abusive attitude towards wild horses by people wedded to ranchers. We visited BLM’s Burns Oregon District Office and asked where the best chance of seeing wild horses was since there are 19 Herd Management Areas in the state and the response was, “Have you been to our Wild Horse Corral?����
Our hearts sunk. That the agency charged with protecting America’s wild horses and their habitat considers the best place to see wild horses in Oregon is at one of their dismal holding prisons, is frightening. At the Wild Horse Corral, a large mural of a wild horse pointing visitors to a self-guided auto tour of the facility said, “See the real thing.” That the BLM should consider 800 wild horses crammed into 41 dirt paddocks imprisoned in a holding facility “the real thing” is a disgrace and an insult to the American public.
That’s dialogue they don’t want to hear at the wild horse summit.
Priscilla Feral is president of Friends of Animals.