By Greg Nelson, Animal Rights
ANIMAL RIGHTS - In September, my wife and I drove to Lompoc for the season’s final wild horse walk at the 300-acre Return to Freedom ranch.
The walks will begin again in the spring, and if you aren’t moved by what you see and hear from the ranch’s staff, you haven’t got a caring bone in your body.
It seems absurd to think that Africa would not attempt to preserve its wild animals.
In the United States, wild horses face an incredibly difficult battle, and its supporters are fighting an uphill battle against those who want public lands used for their purposes.
The wild horses are up against cattle ranchers, hunters, geothermal energy producers, and the natural gas frackers. And since wild horses don’t produce revenue, the odds are stacked against them.
The Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Interior decided that there are too many wild horses on public lands, so they’ve been rounding them up using helicopters and inhumane traps to capture the horses and put them in holding pens for years -- 30,000 to 50,000 at the last estimate – at an annual cost to the taxpayers of $80 million.
Despite the fact that it’s illegal to do so, the government has been turning a blind eye to well-known “kill buyers” who acquire the horses at government auctions for about $10 each, and truck them to Mexico and Canada where many of them are slaughtered while conscious.
It’s concerning to some that the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, is a former Colorado rancher who received a zero rating from a number of environmental groups while he was a US Senator.
The director of the Return to Freedom ranch, Ms. Neda DeMayo, is also the founder of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.
On October 4, the Campaign posted a petition on the Internet that will be sent to Secretary Salazar on October 31. Within nine days 25,000 signatures had been collected.
The petition calls upon Secretary Salazar to place an emergency stop to the sale, roundup, and removal of wild horses until a humane and transparent management program is implemented that guarantees the safety of the American wild horses.
If you’d like to sign the petition, it’s easy. Just click on this link.
If you want to know more about the plight of the American wild horses, click on this link to read an alarming article.
On the legislative front, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced S. 1176 to further protect prohibit the transportation and possessing of wild horses for the purposes of being slaughtered. It was co-sponsored by 26 other senators, including California’s Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, five Republicans, and two Independents.
Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) authored a companion bill in the House, H.R. 2966. It has 165 co-signers from both parties, including Democrat Janice Hahn and Republican Elton Gallegly.
You won’t be alone.
Earlier in the year, a survey of over 1,000 registered voters by Lake Research Partners found that 80% oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and a Popvox poll found that 80% favored S. 1176 and H.R. 2966.
(Greg Nelson is a former general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, was instrumental in the creation of the LA Neighborhood Council System, served as chief of staff for former LA City Councilman Joel Wachs … and occasionally writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)