BLM asks beef ranchers to buy wild horses

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2006:

WASHINGTON D.C.–Bureau of Land Management director Kathleen
Clarke and Public Lands Council president Mike Byrne on February 21,
2006 sent letters to more than 15,000 holders of BLM grazing permits,
asking them to buy some of the 7,000 wild horses and burros whom the
BLM was directed to sell “without limitation” by a stealth rider
slipped through Congress in November 2004.
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.

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