Wild equines win new safeguards

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1997:

RENO––The Bureau of
Land Management on October 15
settled a lawsuit filed in June by the
Fund for Animals and Animal
Protection Institute by agreeing to
require wild horses and burro adoptors
to pledge that they have no
intention of selling the animal either
for slaughter or for rodeo bucking
stock; to require slaughterhouses to
keep all paperwork on BLM-freezebranded
equines, and to require
slaughterhouses to notify the BLM
immediately of the receipt of any
such animals; to bar wild horse and
burro adoptions through power of
attorney; and to bar individuals from
adopting more than four wild equines
during a one-year period.

The settlement implements
policies long existing on paper but
allegedly often left unenforced, even
after the Fund and API won a 1987
injunction seeking enforcement.
Since the passage of the
1971 Wild and Free-Ranging Horse
and Burro Act, the BLM has
removed and adopted out more than
175,000 horses. Associated Press
reporter Martha Mendoza, of
Albuquerque, revealed in January
that the BLM had failed to transfer
title to about 32,000 horses over the
years, meaning that it had no record
of their fate, and that about 90% of
the horses who could be traced were
eventually sold for slaughter.
Mendoza further alleged
that BLM staff were profiting from
bogus adoption-for-resale schemes.
Denying that, BLM staff admitted
losing track of many horses, but said
some of the titling backlog was due
to the year-long federal budget freeze
imposed by Congress in 1995. The
BLM also pointed out that about 90%
of all owned horses in the U.S. are
eventually sold to slaughter.
After settling the lawsuit,
BLM director Pat Shea appointed
certified public accountant Stuart
Finley, of Nampa, Idaho, to review
BLM procedures for counting wild
equines, handling adoptions, keeping
title records, and auditing adoptor
compliance with the Wild and
Free-Ranging Horse and Burro Act.
Shea appointed Matthew
Mackay-Smith, DVM, of White
Post, Virginia, to review wild horse
and burro population control, including
contraception methods, and to
examine BLM procedures for insuring
the humane treatment of wild
equines after adoption.
In addition, Shea appointed
Salt Lake Tribune editor Jay
Shelledy to review media coverage
of the wild horse and burro program,
along with BLM responsiveness to
media inquiries.
The appointees are to
report back to Shea in early 1998.
The BLM estimates there
are currently about 42,000 wild horses
in the western U.S., including
5,425 in Wyoming, 2,000 more than
the state quota. BLM officials say
they will only be able to capture
1,300 to 1,700 in March-throughNovember
wild horse roundups.
went to press, the International
Society for the Protection of
Mustangs and Burros and the Hoofed
Animal Humane Society were seeking
a temporary restraining order to
keep the BLM from capturing 56
members of the Pryor Mountain herd,
which lives near Britton Springs,
Wyoming. Colorado filmmaker and
ISPMB vice president Ginger
Kathrens has been filming the herd
since 1995.

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