BLM on road to slaughtering wild horses in holding?
COLO. SPRINGS, CO (Feb. 8, 2012) – There have been strong protests to the appointment of another pro-slaughter member to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. On February 5, 2012, Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, named Callie Hendrickson of Grand Junction, Colorado as the newest member of the Board. Hendrickson will fill the General Public position, replacing Janet Jankura of Ohio who applied to serve another term but was denied.
"I am wondering what general public Ms. Hendrickson represents? Certainly not the vast majority of Americans who oppose the slaughter of wild or domestic horses," states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. "It’s troubling that in the past nine months the Secretary has chosen two members of the Board who appear to have little problem with lethal management of our wild horses."
Ms. Hendrickson is the Executive Director of the Colorado-based White River and Douglas Creek Conservation District, an organization which intervened on behalf of BLM in a lawsuit brought by the Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER), Habitat for Horses, and The Cloud Foundation (TCF), organizations committed to protecting the West Douglas wild horse herd on Colorado’s Western Slope. Hendrickson and her group support the removal of all the wild horses in this small herd.
"BLM’s appointment of Ms. Hendrickson as a representative of the general public is severely misguided," states Valerie Stanley, attorney for wild horse advocate organizations. "Her organization is working to eliminate wild horses and Ms. Hendrickson, herself, has indicated that she supports horse slaughter. BLM’s appointment signals that it only wants advice from people who support the agency’s own agenda."
"The hypocrisy of the BLM Advisory Board continues with the appointment of Callie Hendrickson," states Hilary Wood, President/Founder of FRER. "This isn’t a case of the fox guarding the hen house. It’s the fox in the hen house about to cause more death and destruction."
Hendrickson joins James Stephenson of south-central Washington, a consultant for the Yakama Nation who, in June of 2011, was appointed by Secretary Salazar to represent Natural Resource Management on the Board. At the October Board Meeting, Stephenson spoke in favor of horse slaughter for the Yakama Indian Tribe and for wild horses removed from their homes on public range lands in the West by the BLM.
"Is BLM paving the way for the massive destruction of wild horses in holding?" asks Susan Sutherland, economist and wild horse adopter. "It appears they are stacking the Advisory Board with people who may be quite willing to support the killing of healthy animals currently in holding areas. It’s clear they’ve been thinking of doing this for years."
Sutherland refers to the minutes of secret meetings held by BLM officials in 2008. Minutes of these meetings came to light in 2009 when Dr. Pat Haight, President of the Conquistador Equine Rescue and Advocacy Program, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to acquire the documents.
BLM officials talked of ways to avoid NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) compliance, clean water standards, and Congressional oversight. The need for psychological counseling for employees ordered to kill healthy wild horses was raised as well. When asked about these meetings, BLM denied any plan to destroy wild horses in holding.
"Instead of releasing wild horses back to their legal homes, BLM seems to be setting the stage for a lethal solution," states Craig Downer, lifelong wild horse advocate and author of the just released book, The Wild Horse Conspiracy. "The agency needs to stop the senseless and costly helicopter roundups of the last of the mustangs and come up with a sustainable plan that includes the return of horses in holding to areas emptied of all horses over the past 30 years."
The Cloud Foundation has long advocated for maintaining genetically viable populations of wild horses and burros on their legally designated home ranges in the West. Less than one-third of herds are large enough to sustain themselves into the future without suffering irreparable genetic degradation. The Foundation has suggested that many of the healthy wild horses in costly holding pens be returned to western ranges allocated for their use but zeroed out by BLM. Director Bob Abbey acknowledged the availability of 5-7 million BLM acres for wild horse release, but there appear to be no plans in the works to accomplish this cost-saving solution.
"With the Board’s anti-wild horse members in place, it’s hard to imagine that this type of action will be recommended," states Kathrens. The nine-member National Advisory Board is charged with making recommendations to BLM concerning their management of Wild Horses and Burros on publicly-owned lands.