Washington, D.C. – Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), along with a bipartisan group of 19 other Members of Congress, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today outlining concerns with the management of wild horses and burros on federal lands. The letter, available at http://tinyurl.com/cl9sdua, questions whether frequent roundups are the most humane and fiscally sound way of managing the 37,300 wild horses and burros on federal lands and the additional 49,000 that live in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) corrals.
According to the BLM, roundups and holding costs accounted for $50.8 million (70.1 percent) of the $74.9 million appropriated to the Wild and Horse Burro Program in Fiscal Year 2012.
High costs and ongoing allegations of horse and burro abuse in captivity have prompted closer Congressional scrutiny over the past several years.Along with urging alternatives to regular roundups, the letter asks Salazar to respond to requests from the public about an Interior Department Office of the Inspector General investigation into whether BLM officials knowingly sold horses to a proven kill buyer.
“The roundup program as it’s currently managed has become unsustainable,” Grijalva said after sending the letter. “Expensive roundups without sufficient oversight are not a good use of taxpayer money, and neither is selling horses to kill buyers. Secretary Salazar should assure the public before his departure that the Department is making serious plans to address this.”
“It’s imperative that Secretary Salazar respond to the numerous inquiries as to why this abuse of wild horse and burros is being allowed to happen,” Rep. Whitfield said. “I applaud Rep. Grijalva for his leadership on this important issue, and I will continue working with him as we await a much-deserved explanation from the Bureau of Land Management.”
Grijalva said he welcomed the recently announced BLM policy changes that promote better roundup conditions, but emphasized that the overall focus on roundups as a primary herd control method should end.
“We need a long-term, sustainable plan, not piecemeal rule changes,” Grijalva said. “I urge Secretary Salazar to explain the Department’s thinking as soon as possible. This is not a right-left political issue, it’s a question of good governance. Our bipartisan team on this letter and the people we all represent believe in protecting our public lands and natural heritage, and so does Secretary Salazar. That’s why we’re looking forward to hearing from him as soon as possible.”