On April 29 there was a U. S. House Resource Committee markup of HR-1018, know as ROAM or Restoring Our American Mustangs. It was a sad and pathetic thing to watch on the live web cam coverage.
While sound and reasoned arguments and amendments against this proposed bill were set forth by Wyoming’s U. S. Representative Cynthia Lummis and her like minded colleagues, it was clear that the content was not resonating with proponents of the bill. Minds were made up and the ‘mark up’ was ‘done’.
This bill was introduced by Committee Chair Nick J. Rahall (D.WV) and co sponsored by Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) as a way to stop the Bureau of Land Management from exercising one of its legal management tools of euthanizing some of these animals when conditions warrant such action.
In the summer of 2008 the BLM pulled out at the last minute on its plan to exercise this needed management action. Political pressures brought to bear by unreasonable advocates of wild horses and burros and without an effective voice of reason from elsewhere the agency chose to not act. Perhaps the thought was that the dust would clear, the public’s attention would wane and it would be able to move forward at a later, less noticeable time. Perhaps it was COMMANDED to stop.
Regardless, all this non-management has done is provide time for extremists to propose legislation which will more than worsen the problem. As things stand right now, HR-1018 would:
Promote the use of better science to determine whether the amount of range that is available to wild horses is capable of sustaining them. (Code for: future expansion of herd management areas.)
Restore the amount of range available to wild horses when the law was first enacted in 1971, through a combination of public and private lands controlled by entities seeking to establish sanctuaries, and reduce the number of animals that are culled from the herds and placed in holding facilities. (Code for: returning to the unworkable, complicated and unreasonably large original areas identified in the 1971 legislation. This really means other users of the BLM lands will have wild horses and burros ELEVATED above their activities and interests. Also code for all other species on such lands are less important than non-native wild horses and burros.)
Provide the BLM with the authority to enter into cooperative agreements with private entities to establish wild horse sanctuaries on non-federal lands. (Code for: the adoption program already in existence and open to private entities is full and not responsive enough so let’s pretend such agreements are necessary and that ALL wild horses and burros must and should live at all costs.)
Bolster the adoption program and implement sterilization and other fertility controls. (Code for let’s ignore both the reality that the populations are out of control, and ignore why the adoption program is not working by increasing expensive holding facilities where many of these animals live out their lives because they are unadoptable.. Sterilization (stallions) and fertility controls have long been part of the program, but let’s pretend that the advocate extremists will not block expansion of these controls under the guise of compromising genetic diversity.)
Prohibit the killing of healthy wild horses and burros. (Code RED for: We refuse to embrace a level of emotional maturity that recognizes that such death via humane euthanizing methods is as appropriate as death via hunting which has long been used in the management of wildlife populations.
I think the upper levels of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burros Group Management team would probably appreciate hearing some reasoned arguments and opinions in favor of them moving forward with this legitimate, humane, and courageous management tool. Help the BLM to counter emotion with reason and courage. Send your comments to Washington, D.C.: email@example.com, It’s your country too!
Tag Line: Kathleen Jachowski is a public speaker and free lance writer on natural resources and cultural issues. She also serves as Ex. Director of Guardians of the Range. Opinions expressed are her own. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org