(NN&V Staff) – Wild horse and burro advocates and In Defense of Animals (IDA) are organizing a Wednesday rally in San Francisco.
The mustang defenders will gather at noon in front of Senator Diane Feinstein’s office building (One Post Street at Montgomery) asking the senator to help halt the federal Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) massive roundup of thousands of mustangs living in the public Calico Mountain Complex in northwestern Nevada.
The roundup is scheduled to begin today, despite a federal court ruling recommending that the action be postponed. It will begin in secret, on private land from which the public will be barred.
What: Protest for America’s Wild Horses
Where: Outside Senator Diane Feinstein’s office, One Post Street, San Francisco
When: Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 11 A.M.; News Conference at Noon
“We invite concerned citizens of all ages to join us Wednesday, calling on Senator Feinstein, who has always been a friend of wild horses. We ask her to halt the largest and most controversial BLM mustang roundup in years,” said Elliot M. Katz, DVM, president of the Marin County-based In Defense of Animals, which is organizing the event in conjunction with the Colorado-based Cloud Foundation.
In a December 23, 2009 decision, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman said that the BLM’s plans to stockpile Nevada’s wild horses in Midwestern holding facilities is likely illegal, and consequently suggested that BLM postpone the Calico gather, saying it was an issue for Congress. IDA says that ruling, combined with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) violations cited in IDA’s complaints to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the Interior Department, should warrant President Obama’s intervention to stop this roundup immediately.
Judge Friedman’s decision was made in response to a federal lawsuit filed by IDA, ecologist Craig Downer and noted children’s author Terri Farley to halt the roundup, involving a helicopter stampede and capture of 2,700 horses in the more than half-million-acre Calico Mountains Complex in northwestern Nevada. The horses will be traumatized, terrorized, and many will be injured and/or killed. Foals and their mothers will be separated and horse family bands will be shattered forever.
In response to the news that the BLM would commence the roundup in secret, IDA today released video of BLM chief Don Glenn, stating on December 7 that “all of our gathers are open to the public; the public is invited to watch all the time.”
Just a day before Glenn made that statement, the BLM completed the roundup of 217 horses on the California/Nevada border, an action that was taken illegally with no public notification. Two weeks later, the BLM denied a request by an IDA observer to witness a helicopter stampede of horses living in the Palomino Buttes area in Eastern Oregon, stating “no observers would be allowed or welcome at this roundup.”
In a 2008 report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the the BLM was not transparent with the public about how horses are treated under its Wild Horse and Burro management program.
“Americans will say good-bye to the wild mustang if they allow these secret roundups to take place.” said celebrated author Terri Farley, of the Phantom Stallion series for young readers. “By moving the Calico roundups to private lands, BLM is barring the press and public from watching what they do to our wild horses. Where are the caring BLM staffers I worked with once and dedicated my books to? These roundups are not the action of a humane and responsible agency,” continued Farley.
IDA asserts the wild horses are removed for the benefit of private livestock owners and other commercial users of public lands. Despite a Congressional mandate to protect wild horses in the Calico Complex, the BLM has increased the number of cattle grazing permits on public lands where they are removing wild horses. In doing so, the BLM ignores its federal mandate to remove livestock from federal wild horse management areas “if necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury” (43 CFR § 4710.5).
If the Administration continues its current course, it will capture and remove nearly 12,000 wild horses a year from their native Western homes for the next three years, after which time the number of horses in Midwestern holding facilities will number more than 50,000 and far exceed those left on the range.