2/21/06: BLM asks beef ranchers to buy wild horses
Equine advocates decried the letter as a proposed "final solution" for wild horses and burros."Any excess animal or the remains of an excess animal shall be sold, if the excess animal is more than 10 years of age or the excess animal has been offered unsuccessfully for adoption at least three times," stipulated the rider, introduced by Senator Conrad Burns (R-Montana).
The Public Lands Council "represents permittees who hold leases and permits to graze livestock on the federal lands in the West administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service. It also coordinates the federal-lands policies of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Sheep Industry Association and the Association of National Grasslands," says the PLC letterhead.
BLM spokesperson Tom Gorey told Becky Bohrer of Associated Press that the BLM will ask grazing leaseholders to pay $10 apiece for the horses and burros.
Responded the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a 30-group coalition, "The very people who lobby tirelessly to remove wild horses from public lands at taxpayers' expense are now urged to buy the horses at bargain prices. Ranchers did not want to share public land allotments with these horses in the first place. Do we really think they are now going to let them graze the allotments out of the goodness of their hearts? Who better than the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to funnel wild horses to slaughter?
"It is disturbing," the American Wild Horse Preserv-ation Campaign alert continued, "that this announcement comes on the heels of the USDA's decision to allow horse slaughter to continue, despite Congress overwhelmingly passing an amendment banning such practice for one fiscal year. The horse slaughter ban was vehemently opposed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Without independent oversight and incentives to ensure the ranchers will provide long-term care for these horses, we can't help but see something sinister at play."
Congress excised funding for federal inspection of the three remaining U.S. horse slaughterhouses from the 2006 USDA budget, but the slaughterhouse owners offered to pay for the inspectors themselves in order to remain in business.
||March 2006 Animal People News