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Secretary Salazar to Relocate Broncos?
While the Denver Broncos continue their fight for a division title against the San Diego Chargers, Secretary Salazar continues his quest to cleanse the West of their namesakes, as well as many other wild animals including Wolves, and Bison.

Secretary Salazar has proposed a plan to remove most of the Wild Horses from the West, despite the House having recently passed the "Restore Our American Mustangs Act" (ROAM Act), which would direct the BLM to restore the wild horses to the wild and onto 20 million acres of rangeland.  The same amount of BLM lands that a GAO Report admits has been taken from them.

As Congressman Raul Grijalva stated regarding the ROAM Act
"We must not lose these majestic icons of the West."
Salazar the Slaughter Czar Flies Over Denver

On Sunday November 22nd, as on the previous Friday (as reported in theDenver Post and5280 Denver's Magazine), a plane and banner message critical of Secretary Salazar will be flying over Denver, prior to the Denver Broncos game.  Frustrated and angry over continued Wild Horse round-ups, the message sponsors are working toward a conversation on the real issues on our public lands discussed in this press release.  

Succinctly stated: 4 Million Cattle on public lands are causing mismanagement and slaughter of American Wildlife across the west, including; Bison, Wolves, and Wild Horses, earning Secretary Salazar the title of 'Salazar the Slaughter Czar.'

Recently Secretary Salazar requisitioned $68 million from Congress which included an additional $30 million or so to solve the "so called" Wild Horse Problem.  Even so, he has published his next plan to round up another 12,000 horses in 2010; these horses may go into long term holding facilities at significant cost to taxpayers.  Meanwhile 4,000,000 Cattle will remain on public lands.  

Critics of Salazar's plan, as well as officials from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) which had given "A Big Two Thumbs Up" to Salazar's plan as a first step forward, note their disappointment with Salazar's seeming abandonment of aggressive use of birth control which could otherwise preclude the need for expensive, often brutal, round-ups and the boarding of tens of thousands of Horses.

BLM Wild Horse Population Management - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Department of the Interior (DOI), now headed by Secretary Salazar, has traditionally managed Wild Horse populations in similar fashion to any domestic breeding program.  First allowing breeding, then removal (by helicopter round-up), and finally domestic adoption or placement in costly holding facilities waiting an uncertain fate, which could legally include slaughter.  With the passage of the Burns Amendment, making sale and slaughter of Wild Horses legal, no Wild Horse is actually safe from slaughter, especially with the mounting costs of this ill thought out program. (See GAO WH&B Report recommendations.)

An alternative population management strategy which utilizes birth control, such as the 21 yr program of PZP immuno-contraception at the Assateague US National Park, has not been utilized widely by the BLM.  Another alternative for population control is the allowance of natural predators which, unfortunately, continue to be eliminated as a threat to Cattle.

Western "Public" Lands - Thriving Ecological Balance?
Secretary Salazar states, "Western lands and watersheds cannot support 33,000 Wild Horses."  However Don Glen, Washington Bureau Chief of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, verified to the Wild Horse Observers Association (WHOA) this summer that there are 4,000,000 Cattle on these public lands.  Many Wild Horse advocates assert that in order to achieve a balance of any kind, it is Cattle that must be removed. Others are asking for a moratorium on round-ups.

Secretary Salazar appears well along the path to eliminating any animal perceived as a threat to Cattle. Due to his decision to affirm the Bush era de-listing of the Northern Rocky Mountain Grey Wolf from the endangered species list, these Wolves are now being hunted.  So far, 100 of these Wolves have been killed including half of the famous Yellowstone pack, 2 with radio collars.  Another perceived threat to Cattle is brucellosis, a disease said to be brought to this county by Cattle, and then spread to the Bison.  Though brucellosis has not yet been documented to be transmitted from Bison to Cattle, the death toll of Bison killed by government agents has risen to 3000.  According to the Western Watersheds Project, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Commissioner Vic Workman recently provided the answer to this question: "[T]he issue in the Bison controversy is not brucellosis, but whether Bison should be kept off rangeland that livestock producers want for their Cattle."  The Yellowstone herd of Bison is said to be the only genetically pure herd remaining, as others are said to have been mixed with Cattle.

Special Interest Ties Blocking Due Process
Both Senator Salazar and Senator Bingaman, from New Mexico , have shown strong ties to the Cattle industry through their votes to put downed, suffering, and diseased animals into America 's food supply via fork lift, electric prod, and other inhumane methods.  Equine legislation known as the ROAM Act, which would give back 19 million acres of public lands to the Horses, is currently being held hostage and denied a vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Senator Bingaman.  Along with Senator Dominici, Senator Bingaman has a long record of blocking Equine Protection Legislation.  These bills have passed easily through the House, and Wild Horse protective legislation has even passed in his own state of New Mexico .  However, Senator Bingaman is unwilling to allow the American people their due process, though their will is clear.  Some say Senator Bingaman is as culpable as Senator Burns, who single-handedly inserted a rider in an appropriations bill to strip Wild Horses of their long standing protection against slaughter without public debate.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Senators
Both soft spoken, Secretary Salazar and Senator Bingaman hail as Environmentalist good guys with reasonable environmental scores of approximately 80% by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). However, their Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) score cards show what WHOA fears is a troubling and darker side, with both earning Brutish scores of 0% during the 109th Congress.

Wild Horses: Competition for the Beef Industry?
Are these last 33,000 Wild Horses impacting the bottom line of the Beef Industry?  A quick review of the USDA data on US Beef Imports and Exports will show that Imports from countries around the globe are the competition.  Specifically, Canadian Beef Imports have been blamed for depressions in the US Beef prices.  Some blame NAFTA and CAFCA.  Looking at the USDA charts will show you two surprising, but relevant, facts.

1.The US Imports more Beef (live and dead) than it Exports.
2.The US Imports Beef from all over the world (live and dead) including countries in Saudi Arabia , Costa Rica , and other rain forest areas.

Only 2% of the forage (crops, pasture, range forage) for American Beef is grown on BLM and FS lands, and 89% of the cattle producers are in the East[1]. WHOA asserts, rather than looking at the Wild Horses as competition, perhaps our Beef Export to Import ratios will provide a more realistic answer.

The American Culture
The American Culture has flourished by absorbing the best from a mix of diverse cultures, thereby creating a more humane society.  Still a work in progress!  Americans did not embrace bull fighting, and they have struggled and finally succeeded in outlawing cock fighting.  Americans do not hunt Horses, nor do they eat Horses, Cats, or Dogs.  These animals are "sacred" in our rich American heritage.  Recently, Americans have succeeded in closing foreign owned Horse Slaughter Plants here in the US , and are currently working to stop the slaughter of American Horses driven across our borders.  The voices of the American people so far are falling on deaf ears.

Americans do not want to lose the last of the Wild, Wild West.  This includes Big Cats, Wolves, Bison, Bears, Grizzlies and, of course, the Wild Horses.  Domestic Cattle fattened on public lands, at the expense of American wildlife, is a betrayal of the public trust.  What will be the legacy of Secretary Salazar?  For now, regrettably, WHOA asserts it is that of a Slaughter Czar.

Wild Horse Observers Association

Links/Relevant data

  1.      Alternatives/Options for the Wild Horse and Burro Program Assateague
  1.      GAO Report WH&B
  1.      GAO Report Humane Slaughter Act
  1.      USDA Data (Head)
  1.      USDA Data (BeefVeal)
  1.      Cattle Grazing educational Tool


  1.        [1] WELFARE RANCHING The Subsidized Destruction of the American West  Edited by George Wuerthner and Mollie Mattson


Originally posted to meepdog on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 10:22 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  An honest question here. (4+ / 0-)

    I understand the majesty and association of mustangs with the US West and its open spaces.  

    But that too is an adulteration of the ecology.  The horse is an invasive species, and a destructive one to other grazers; it played a significant role in the demise of the American bison beyond simply as a mount for improved hunting yields and the mass slaughters of the 19th century.

    While I oppose cruel methods of killing, and I certainly oppose the turning over of more land to beef ranching, I support tight management--and indeed removal--of wild horse populations and the reintroduction of wild buffalo instead.

    An ecologically destabilizing factor that we find aesthetically pleasing is still a destabilizing factor.  By all means let's oppose the ranching industry, but let us not delude ourselves into thinking wild horses are primordial nature.

    •  (sorry, that wasn't a question) (0+ / 0-)

      The question is more along the lines of "why can't we go the whole way?")

    •  100 yrs of rancher rrhetoric runs deep (4+ / 0-)

      Thanks for the question. In fact it has been proven that equines evolved to their current state here in North America. This has been proven by mitochondrial DNA.

      Paleontological evidence shows that wild horses evolved on the North American continent over the course of some 1.6 million years.

      There are fewer wild horses on public lands than practicaly any ungulates and because they are true top down grazers (teeth top and bottom and can mow, unlike cows with no upper front teeth who use their tongues to pull out the roots).

      Being top down grazers horses do increase bio diversity though different length grasses and improve ground coverage through promotion of plant tillering. The BLM SAYs this about cattle in their environmental assesments for grazing permits, but they never use it in favor of the true top down grazer, the horse.

      However, if they are fenced in like domestic cattle so that they cannot roam, that is when they can be destructive. Who fences in a wild animal? The BLM.

      •  Evolutionary history doesn't justify new ecology. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        No argument on the point of the fences whatsoever.  Nor on the demerits of cattle farming's claim to ecological positioning or the facts of evolution (evo bio is part of my field); then again, camelids also evolved in North and Central America, but we do not seek to introduce them wild into the highlands outside of their limited Andean range today.

        But the major North American horses vanished over 10,000 years ago; that's a very long time, and there was a reason they vanished.  A new ecology has developed since, so the question of "who decides what is the right ecology to promote as wilderness" is a very salient one to ask if the horses and an idea of wilderness are to form the rallying call.  The well-paid opposition will find a biologist to raise the point, and as you rightly note, they only have to put a veneer of legitimacy on their claims and a weak lacquer of doubt on yours.

        Not being an ecologist or environmental scientist on North America specifically, I'm curious as to why Equus spp. fill a niche that increased bison herds didn't or couldn't--then again, nobody has ever bothered to ask why the two couldn't co-exist, especially because their African analogues (kudu/ibex and wildebeest) certainly do.  But then the beef frontier does not have the political power in sub-Saharan Africa that it has in the US.

    •  Thanks, both of you have made good arguments (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's nice to see a well reasoned discussion, something that seems to be getting rare here at DK.

      I'm not sure where you came to conclude that the horse had such an impact on Bison, I haven't seen any evidence of this.

      After Geithner and Summers, I think Salazar was the worst pick of the cabinet.  He's a 19th century cattleman and will act like one.

      There are several thriving wolf packs in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, and although Salazar's decision is ridiculous and reflects his support of cattle over everything, I hold my nose and hope he'll decide to leave before the end of the administration.  I also think back on the Bush years and realize how bad it can get.

      There's simply too many other very serious problems facing the world, but thanks for reminding us that we need to keep an eye on other things as well.

  •  Slaughter Czar? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hyperbole like this is why things don't get done.  You could say the decision was wrong, not based on science, stupid..etc.  But "Slaughter Czar"?  Grow up.

    •  He IS a slaughter czar. Probably the worst (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      White Buffalo

      choice Obama has made.

      Salazar is NO friend to the environment, but he DOES befriend the cattle industry... his roots I believe.

      Watch USFWS decisions on ESA candidates.  You'll see.

      Salazar needs to be OUT ASAP.

      866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it!

      by cany on Sat Nov 21, 2009 at 10:50:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  5 generations of rancher rhetoric, thats Salazar (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        White Buffalo, cany
        •  I don't think Salazar or anyone else (0+ / 0-)

          takes ranching seriously in western Colorado anymore, there just isn't any profit in it. People do it more as a cultural thing.

          Endangered species are determined by science, not politics. We left all that behind with Bush, now we are in a science based management era.

          Any large animal has the potential to have a large effect on the environment, horse, bison or wolf pack. Ever notice people get all het up over things like their pets? Horses, malamutes, but not so much for any black tailed prarie dog.

          "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

          by ban nock on Sun Nov 22, 2009 at 10:36:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  that is complete bullshit. the fact is, DOI (0+ / 0-)

            is still LACED with people of the Julie McDonald ilk.

            sometimes the best science wins, but do NOT assume that is the majority of times, because it isn't.

            866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it!

            by cany on Sun Nov 22, 2009 at 05:23:56 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  BTW... you might also want to read this (0+ / 0-)

              and go to the source materials from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

              Read here (an overview of what happened).

              Also, there are a number of really poor decisions so far from Salalzar.  There will be a lot more.

              He was the WRONG man to pick and will reflect badly on the president not to mention our endangered species.

              866-338-1015 toll-free to Congress in D.C. USE it!

              by cany on Sun Nov 22, 2009 at 06:22:12 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  It seems Salazar wasn't listening (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Unfortunate for him.

      •  I'm not ashamed to see this banner fly (0+ / 0-)

        over Lakewood or Denver.

        Wild horses are way more popular with me than Salazar.

        Politics is a fast paced, full-contact sport - a lot like football, I think. So we can either pass or carry the ball down field on issues we feel strongly about. Or we can block for those trying to advance when our hearts aren't in that specific play.

        The one thing I wish the smart, well-intentioned people I loosely team up with would stop doing is intercept our own team's ball to bring it back; huddle around to inspect the stitching; have a debate about what kind of ball it is; debate whether we're actually playing football, or tennis, or chess, etc.

        I don't know enough about this issue but I do know how easy it would be for the BLM to make the case that penning wild horses is just too expensive a "pet issue" to be maintained, in which case most of those horses will probably be slaughtered anyway. I'm happy to let you make your way into the end zone and we'll see if it's a point scored.

  •  I don't know if you've ever taken a look around (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the southwest but it's no longer a place of Native Americans and buffalo roaming. Take away all the cattle on public land and your still stuck with tons of suburban sprawl. Heck that might well be someone you know in the SUV Land Rover tooling down the interstate with bike rack and skiis.

    Obama ran on the idea of science based management of animals and our public lands. No more management by politics, wether that is keeping oil development away or bumming out the horse people. Salazar is what Obama promised.

    There is no more wild west. It was fenced in a hundred years ago. It's just a question of how we manage it. The grizzly used to live in what is now Santa Cruz. After the grizzly bear is re introduced to it's old habitat there, I'd be willing to listen to all wolf/griz/buff arguements.

    "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

    by ban nock on Sun Nov 22, 2009 at 02:30:27 AM PST

    •  I don't think so (0+ / 0-)

      We shouldn't simply abandon any effort to restore ecosystems because of the mistakes that were made in the past.

      There are plenty of places throughout the west where large native species can be reintroduced and will thrive.  Even in the upper midwest, wild turkeys, coyotes, wolves, and now mountain lions are finding small niches where they can survive.

      Our management priorities should be to restore (where possible) the systems before the mistakes were made, not to repeat the mistakes and set them in stone.

      •  Thriving isn't the problem (0+ / 0-)

        The problem is that large animals have ripple effects all down the food chain and with humans. If you could imagine what a grizzly bear would do in downtown Santa Cruz you'd see what I mean.

        Changes to the ecosystem are made carefully based on science. Bison used to roam all over the west, but very few land managers choose to allow them now, just too much problem. Same with the griz or the wolf.

        "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

        by ban nock on Sun Nov 22, 2009 at 10:42:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Horrible appointment (0+ / 0-)

    The Salazar appointment was pure politics over policy in the worst way. It's extremely unfortunate that this is flying under the radar; however, this is exactly what beltway Democrats were attempting to achieve.  

    •  It's Obama (0+ / 0-)

      He said he'd have a sportsman to run Interior, and he did. I really don't see what's wrong with Salazar, he strikes a balance between many conflicting interest groups.

      "Don't fall or we both go" Derek Hersey

      by ban nock on Sun Nov 22, 2009 at 10:38:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

    In fact it has been proven that equines evolved to their current state here in North America. This has been proven by mitochondrial DNA.

    Citations?  I thought the native horse was extinct well before the modern horse was imported from europe.

    "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

    by enhydra lutris on Sun Nov 22, 2009 at 08:26:18 AM PST

  •  Modern horses aren't native. (0+ / 0-)

    I say get rid of them.

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