Secretary Salazar Urged to Consider Strategy to Manage Free-Roaming Horses and Burros

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Date: 10/8/2009 Press Release
Author: WildEarth Guardians
Contact: WildEarth Guardians (505) 988-9126
Email: msalvo@wildearthguardians.org
Additional Contact: Mark Salvo, WildEarth Guardians, (503) 757-4221

Secretary Salazar Urged to Consider Strategy to Manage Free-Roaming Horses and Burros

Grazing Permit Retirement Effective Tool for Resolving Grazing Conflicts

PHOENIX - Responding to the “significant damage” free-roaming horses and burros can cause to public lands and resources, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar outlined a proposal yesterday in Washington, DC, to improve management of free-roaming horses and burros in the West. However, a western conservation group has criticized the Secretary for failing to recommend voluntary grazing permit retirement, among other strategies, as an effective tool for reducing livestock grazing conflicts with free-roaming horses and burros and native wildlife on public lands.

Given that millions of domestic cattle, sheep, horses and goats are permitted to graze more than 260 million acres of public land in the West, WildEarth Guardians contends that the Interior Department cannot ignore the continued harmful impacts of domestic livestock grazing in its efforts to protect sensitive public lands. WildEarth Guardians recently issued a report, Western Wildlife Under Hoof, which documented the myriad effects of livestock grazing on native wildlife and ecosystems across the western United States.

“Public lands grazing is permitted all over the West, and it’s nearly impossible for displaced wildlife to escape the impacts of domestic livestock production,” said Mark Salvo, WildEarth Guardians’ grazing program specialist. “Any proposal to improve horse and burro management in the West should include removal of domestic livestock from public lands to make way for horses and burros and wildlife.”

Voluntary grazing permit retirement is an increasingly popular way to resolve grazing conflicts on public lands. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, enacted last April, allows ranchers to permanently retire their grazing permits on select public lands in Oregon and Idaho in exchange for compensation.

“Voluntary grazing permit retirement is an ecologically imperative, economically rational, and politically pragmatic way to address grazing conflicts on public lands,” said Salvo.

A recent survey of public land ranchers in Nevada—the state with the most free-roaming horses and burros—indicates that as many as half are interested in retiring their grazing permits for compensation.

The Western Wildlife Under Hoof report is available at http://www.wildearthguardians.org/Portals/0/support_docs/report-WWUH-4-09_lowres.pdf.

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  1. Thanks for keeping us updated on what's going on. I don't think the ranchers will go for it on the whole and I'm pretty sure a lot of them also work with the BLM. It's sort of a conflict of interest if that's the case. I'll have to research that and make sure I have my facts straight. But I still think this whole agency is corrupt and needs to be stopped before it's too late for all the horses and burros in the west. Thanks again.

  2. I believe you ARE correct that many have or currently do work with/for the BLM. Also, many are part of much bigger conglomerates that couldn't care less.

    We are calling for a moratorium on the roundups until a complete investigation can be completed.

    At the roundup in Challis, ID, 11 horses died, 7 of them foals.


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