U.S. Representatives. and Others Join Together to Save Iconic American Horses

Captured wild horses in BLM pen.
Captured wild horses in BLM pen. BLM Oregon

Newsdate: December 17, 2019, 7:00 am

U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote recently to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate appropriations panels with oversight of the Department of the Interior (DOI) to urge funding limits and additional clarity on a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) pilot program to manage wild horse populations in the West.

Wild horses chased in roundup by BLM helicopter.

Wild horses chased in roundup by BLM helicopter

That proposed plan, never presented in authorizing committees, would triple the number of horses and burros in holding, and could cost taxpayers billions.
© 2008 by Louis New window.

The letter, available at https://naturalresources.house.gov/grijalva-bipartisan-letter-to-interior-appropriators-on-blm-horse-and-burro-pilot-program-dec-10-2019, is addressed to U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), chair and ranking member respectively of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; and U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and David Joyce (R-Ohio), the chair and ranking member respectively of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

The House and Senate versions of the Interior-Environment appropriations bill – which are currently being reconciled – each include funding for an untested pilot project that calls for a dramatic increase in roundups and removals.

The House bill provides $6 million in additional funding for the program while the Senate bill provides $35 million, and each bill includes report language calling for a total removal of 130,000 horses over the next decade.

As the authors point out, “That plan has never been presented for consideration in the authorizing committees of jurisdiction, would triple the number of horses and burros in holding, and could cost taxpayers billions.” They also note concerns that the House and Senate report language “opens the door to surgical sterilization procedures” that face opposition “by many stakeholders, including veterinarians.”

The authors urge appropriators to take three steps in a final conference version of the funding bill: 

  • Limit new funding for the pilot program to the $6 million contained in the House bill;
  • Clarify report language so new funding can be used solely on implementing the Porcine Zone Pellucida fertility control vaccine; and
  • Clarify report language to ensure it prohibits use of any appropriated funds to conduct surgical sterilization procedures. 

In addition to Grijalva, the letter is signed by Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), who chairs the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands; and by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; David Schweikert (R-Ariz.); Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.); Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.); Joe Neguse (D-Colo.); Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.); Dina Titus (D-Nev.); Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.); Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.); and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Co-Chair of the Congressional Horse Caucus.

“We applaud Chairman Grijalva’s tremendous leadership and tireless work to protect our iconic American wild horses, whose very backs this country was built upon,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, and a lifelong horseman. “We must continue to do everything within our power to defend these symbols of our nation.”

House Natural Resources Chair Raúl M. Grijalva's leadership of a bipartisan group of lawmakers requesting restrictions on funding appropriated in the FY 2020 spending bill is endorsed by advocacy groups, including the Animal Wellness Action, the American Wild Horse Campaign, and the Cloud Foundation.

The Animal Wellness Foundation (Foundation) is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability.

We organize rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and help homeless pets find a loving caregiver. We are advocates for getting veterinarians to the front lines of the animal welfare movement; promoting responsible pet ownership; and vaccinating animals against infectious diseases such as distemper.

We also support policies that prevent animal cruelty and that alleviate suffering. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife.

We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies.

To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

Press release provided by Marty Irby - Animal Wellness Action

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