The following is a continuation of information on Wild Horses and Burros in the United States from Madeleinepickens.com.
Why do we need a Private Foundation to save Wild Horses and Burros?
Western rangelands have had a violent history of range wars in which whoever controlled the water controlled the adjacent federal grazing lands which is the BLM lands. The only practical solution to finding an appropriate permanent home for the excess horses is for a Private Foundation which owns these private water rights and irrigated pastures, in cooperation with BLM, operate a very large ranch. A public/private ranch can ensure a healthy herd thriving on healthy rangelands.
The National Wild Horse Foundation (Foundation) offered the federal government such a proposal to resolve their dilemma of excess horses solve their administrative challenges and provide a permanent home for these horses.
Under the proposal, the Foundation would purchase and operate a ranch for the sole purpose of providing proper care and a perpetual home for the horses. This ranch would have yearlong grazing capability, federal and private land for management flexibility, sufficient private land for hay production for at least 20,000 head during grave times (drought, deep snow, and rangeland fire), adequate water and sufficient size to support a minimum herd of this size.
The Foundation would enter into a contract or cooperative agreement, as already stipulated in the Wild Horse and Burro Act, with the Secretary of Interior to relocate the 9,000 wild horses currently held in short term holding corrals to the ranch, and to accept future non-adopted wild horses. The total population of horses on the ranch would be determined by its carrying capacity (approximately 20,000 to 30,000 head). The horse population would be managed as a non reproductive herd.
The Foundation will be able to take an additional 2000 to 4000 animals annually from future government wild horse gathers. With abundant forage, water, and acreage and a near normal life expectancy of wild horses on the ranch, the further need for BLM utilizing holding pens to hold horses for years is eliminated. This is good for the government having a readily available permanent home for the horses which will ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands. Taxpayers will save tens of millions annually.
Why does the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 need to be amended to save Wild Horses and Burros?
This Act needs to be amended to ensure that excess wild horse and burros can be provided long term care on western rangelands including public and private lands. The Act prohibits moving these animals to other public rangeland where they were not found at the passage of the Act. Congress and the Secretary of Interior should insist these excess wild horses and burros be allowed to freely roam on the range instead of be confined in corrals.
The Wild Horse and Burro Act need amended. Section 10 of the Wild Horse and Burro Act states: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the Secretary to relocate wild free-roaming horses or burros to areas of the public lands where they do not presently exist.” An amendment to exempt this provision would allow the Secretary to relocate wild horses to suitable ranches with public and private lands. Relocation sould be authorized only if the Secretary enters into a Cooperative Agreement to form a partnership using the private and public lands to provide for a permanent home for horses.
Amazingly, the Wild Horse and Burro Act already states: “The Secretary is authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with other landowners and with the State and local governmental agencies and may issue such regulations as he deems necessary for the furtherance of the purposes of this Act.” An amendment will allow the Secretary to enter into a Cooperative Agreement using both private and public lands for permanent protection, management, and control of excess non reproductive wild horse herds.
The Cooperative Agreement would guarantee:
(a) Public lands would be administered by BLM for permanent protection, management and care of excess wild horses;
(b) Grazing capacity on public lands shall be determined by the agency using scientific fundamentals of healthy rangelands;
(c) The agency can authorize the periods of use and temporary grazing use on adjacent public grazing allotments with the consent of adjacent livestock operators;
(d) Appropriated funds would be provided for maintenance of range improvements on public lands;
(e) The fiduciary responsibilities of the federal government for wild horses on the Foundation ranch are stipulated.
(f) Appropriate due diligence is conducted to qualify applicants and ranches.
The Wild Horse and Burro Act amendment needs to define the fiduciary responsibility of the federal government for their horses. Short term holding contracts currently cost taxpayers $5.75 per day per horse for feeding and watering horses. An amendment will allow the Secretary to enter into an agreement for permanent protection, management, and care of excess non reproductive wild horse herds at a substantially lower cost.