For Immediate Release

OIG Whitewashes BLM Mismanagement of Dwindling Wild Horse & Burro Herds Timing suspect as Congress considers budget increase for unwarranted and costly roundups; Foundation calls for defunding of roundups

Washington D.C. (December 14, 2010)—Failing to look at the actual numbers of wild horses and burros left in the American West, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report yesterday condoning BLM’s documented abuse of America’s Wild horses and burros, even ignoring wild horse deaths at the roundups OIG attended. The BLM allows the destruction of public lands by millions of privately owned livestock, repeatedly blaming a few thousand wild horses and burros for the damage. 30 years ago there were three times more wild horses and burros in the wild than there are today.

"The BLM is getting away with murder and the American taxpayers are paying for it,” states Cloud Foundation Director, Ginger Kathrens. “Our government is letting down our wild horses and burros as well as the American public who want them preserved. This OIG report is clearly just a case of one government agency talking to another."

Although the OIG report states “we found no evidence of BLM or its contractors mistreating the animals” one only has to look at photographic and video documentation of wild horses being abused and mishandled to see that the OIG apparently ignored the vast amount of evidence sent to them and the multitude of evidence readily available online. This is vividly documented in the Peabody award-winning http://www.8newsnow.com/story/11285225/i-team-special-stampede-to-oblivion%3Fredirected=true" style="color: rgb(219, 77, 10); ">CBS special “Stampede to Oblivion” which outlines gruesome Nevada roundups.

“The government must stop turning a blind eye to what is going on. There is miles of documentation readily available proving that the BLM's roundups are unnecessary and inhumane,” explains independent humane observer, Elyse Gardner, who has documented many of the roundups over the past year.

The BLM, and now the OIG, ignored the fact that wild horses are a returned native wildlife species. The OIG accepted BLM’s inflated population estimate of 38,000 wild horses and burros on the range. They failed to investigate how the agency arrived at that number. Based on BLM’s own reported numbers and removals since 2007, only 17,900 wild horses and burros will remain on the range by February 2011. BLM’s “appropriate management level” for the ten western states where wild herds still roam is 26,600 but the roundups continue. In Nevada’s New Pass/Ravenswood herd management area, where the horses had not been manipulated for six years, the herd averaged a 7.6% annual population increase. Wrongly, BLM estimates 20% growth rate for all herds.

newly released report to Congress by independent authors, C. Bowers, L. Peeples and C.R. MacDonald, cites University of Southern California economist and professor, Dr. Caroline Betts, who has determined that America’s wild herds will go extinct in 11 years if BLM continues on the current track of removals and elimination of entire herds. The Cloud Foundation joins the authors of this report and others in calling for the defunding of the ongoing roundups in order to formulate a sustainable and viable plan for wild horse and burro management. Report now available online.

Wild horses cost little on our public range lands, but BLM is requesting a budget of $47.8 million for fiscal year 2011 just for holding 45,000 captive wild horses and burros. Subsidized livestock grazing, covering the majority of the wild horse ranges, results in an annual loss of $123 million per year and the damage to ecosystems is incalculable. Restoring wild horses and burros to the more than 24 million acres removed from them over the past 40 years along with restoring at least 150 “zeroed out” herds and managing ranges “principally” for wild equids per the Wild Horse and Burro Act, would effectively solve the “wild horse issue” that BLM has created through decades of mismanagement.

As early as this week, the Senate will consider an increase of $12 million to the BLM budget which would allow the agency to remove and warehouse thousands more wild horses and burros. "Using BLM's own statistics there will be less than 6,000 horses by 2013. We call on the Senate to restore America’s wild horses and the confidence we once had in our government,” concludes Kathrens.

Press ReleasesJesse Daly