AWI Calls for Halt to Roundups

image002As Study Begins, the Animal Welfare Institute Calls on Bureau of Land Management to Halt Wild Horse Roundups

Washington, DC (September 1, 2010) – While the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) welcomes the recent news that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has asked the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council (NAS/NRC) to review its National Wild Horse and Burro Program starting January 1, 2011, we are deeply disappointed with the agency’s blatant disregard for calls to halt wild horse roundups pending completion of the review.  AWI first recommended this outside review along with a moratorium on roundups over a year ago given the widespread problems being reported in the BLM’s management of wild horses.

“While we are grateful that the BLM has finally realized the urgent need for advice from scientific experts, we continue to be disappointed at their stubborn refusal to halt the massive wild horse roundups they are conducting at an alarming rate,” said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for AWI.

In testimony to the House and Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittees, AWI laid out its reasoning and criteria for an independent study by the NAS, a moratorium on all non-emergency roundups, and the critical importance of maintaining language preventing the BLM from killing tens of thousands of healthy wild horses.  In July, similar concerns were raised with the BLM in a bipartisan letter from House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV), National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and 52 of their colleagues.

Commissioning the NAS/NRC to review their three earlier reports and the current available information and research about wild horses and burros is a first step, according to the BLM. The second step will be for the NAS/NRC to make recommendations about future Wild Horse & Burro Program management and needed research. A third step is to take the NAS/NRC findings and recommendations and make them available to the public in a variety of ways, perhaps through focus groups or science forums.

“A moratorium on non-emergency roundups must be put in place for the duration of the NAS study,” noted Heyde.  “By requesting this independent review, the BLM finally admits the need for obtaining scientific advice; but to continue roundups clearly designed to remove as many horses as possible before any results can be obtained from the two year study is completely irresponsible.”

With the beginning of a review by the NAS, AWI is renewing its call for a moratorium on non-emergency wild horse roundups by the BLM.  The Agency should not be allowed to continue exacerbating a broken system by rounding up horses and warehousing them in expensive holding facilities while the NAS reviews the program.  The responsible action to take is stopping round ups and waiting for recommendations to improve the program.

# # #