Friday, November 27, 2009

Wild Horses & Burros Available for Adoption in Winchester, CA

U.S. Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management
News Release

For Immediate Release: Nov. 24, 2009 CA-CDD-10-18
Contact: David Briery, (951) 697-5220 or Steve Razo, (951) 697-5217

Wild Horses and Burros Available for Adoption in Winchester
Strength, endurance, and spirit are qualities embodied in wild horses and burros that roam America’s rangelands. These living legends are available for adoption at Winchester Wild West Arena in Winchester, Calif. on Dec. 5, 2009, through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Adopt-A-Horse or Burro Program. The mustangs and burros were gathered from public lands in California and Nevada, have been wormed and vaccinated, and are in excellent health. Spectators are welcome.
Animals arrive at noon on Friday December 4, and potential adopters may view the mustangs and burros from 1 to 5 p.m. An excellent media opportunity exists at noon when the animals arrive and unload. Approved adopters will receive a lottery number, which is required to participate in the lottery adoption Saturday morning starting at 9 a.m. The lottery adoption provides all adopters an equal opportunity to adopt the animal of their choice. BLM staff will approve adoption applications from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.
The adoption fee is $125.00 per animal. Animals not selected during the lottery adoption will be available for adoption on a first come, first served basis for the remainder of Saturday. Adoption fees may be paid by cash, check, or credit card.
Qualified adopters must be 18 years old, have adequate facilities, the financial means to care for the animal(s), and would have some experience training or raising a horse or burro. Adopters also must be a resident of the United States and have no convictions for inhumane treatment of animals. Qualified individuals with the proper facilities may adopt up to four animals.
The process is called an “adoption” because BLM retains title to the animal for one year after the adoption. During the year, a BLM compliance officer or designated representative will visit each adopter to ensure the animal is being cared for and has a good home. During this time adopters cannot sell their adopted animal. Adopters must notify BLM if the animal is moved.
After the first year, adopters may apply for title. BLM will pass title of the animal if all the stipulations of the adoption agreement have been met. The animal becomes the private property of the adopter only after BLM transfers title, which completes the adoption process.
Directions to Winchester Arena: from Interstate 215 exit S.H. 74 East; turn south on S.H. 79 S./ Winchester Road; turn west on 9th Street to 32150 S. Grand Ave. For more information about the Winchester adoption or the Bureau's Adopt-A-Horse or Burro Program, contact BLM toll free at 866-4MUSTANGS or visit

visit our website
California Desert District Office – 22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos, Moreno Valley, CA 92553

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lawsuit Filed Giving Mustangs 28-day Reprieve

Nevada Mustangs Given 28-Day Reprieve

IDA Lawsuit Postpones Huge Wild Horse Roundup

Washington, DC (November 24, 2009) - The U.S. Department of Justice announced tonight that the massive roundup and removal of thousands of horses from public land in northwestern Nevada will be delayed until December 28 as a direct result of the filing of a lawsuit by In Defense of Animals and renowned ecologist Craig Downer on November 23.

Tomorrow, IDA and Mr. Downer plan to file a motion for a permanent injunction, with supporting affidavits from horse experts and eyewitnesses to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roundups. The motion will ask Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop the roundup altogether.

The roundup and removal of 80-90 percent of the estimated 3,055 wild horses living in the BLM's Calico Mountain Complex was originally scheduled to begin December 1. The BLM has received over 10,000 public comments in opposition to the roundup.

"We welcome this moratorium on the capture and inhumane treatment of the Calico horses," said William Spriggs, Esq. of Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney, pro bono attorney for IDA and Mr. Downer. "The BLM plan for a massive helicopter roundup of these horses is entirely illegal."

"We are confident that the court will agree that America's wild horses are protected by law from BLM’s plan to indiscriminately chase and stampede them into corrals for indeterminate warehousing away from their established habitat," he said. "The magnificent wild horses and burros of the American West are an important part of our national heritage and must be preserved."

The Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, passed unanimously by Congress in 1971, designated America's wild horses and burros as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West," specifying they "shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death … [and that] to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of public lands.”

Since 1971, the BLM has removed over 270,000 horses from their Western home ranges and taken away nearly 20 million acres of wild horse habitat. Only 37,000 wild horses and burros remain on public lands in the West. By contrast, millions of cattle graze our public lands. Thirty-two thousand wild horses who have been removed from the range are already held in government holding facilities, and the BLM intends to round up 12,000 more horses in FY 2010.


In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization located in San Rafael, Calif. dedicated to protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitat through education, outreach, and our hands-on rescue facilities in Mumbai, India, Cameroon, Africa, and rural Mississippi.

Vicki | A Voice for Our Horses

Equine Welfare Alliance

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Call for Moratorium on Wild Horse & Burro Round-ups Heats Up

Mariana Tosca, Viggo Mortensen and Kevin Nealon join the unified call for an immediate moratorium on wild horse and burro round-ups.
“Without a single dissenting vote, the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was passed by Congress guaranteeing these animals protection from “capture, branding, harassment and death.” – Mariana Tosca
CHICAGO, (EWA) – Acclaimed Actors Mariana Tosca, Christmas in the Clouds, Viggo Mortensen, Lord of the Rings, Appaloosa and Hidalgo and Kevin Nealon, Weeds have added their voice to a growing 150 organizations and dignitaries from America, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa asking President Obama and Secretary Salazar to halt the round-ups of America’s wild horses and burros.

The assault on America’s wild horses and burros must be halted until range studies can be performed and a solid plan is established for the management of these magnificent animals that represent our American heritage.

Actor and Social Activist, Mariana Tosca, joined the unified call with the following statement issued to John Holland, President of the Equine Welfare Alliance.

“With virtually no oversight, the BLM’s maneuvers are methodically cleansing the land of these animals who have become an inconvenience and impediment to the goals of the ranching, gas and oil industries.

It is the action of arrogance and the lowest instincts of man to place greed above the rights of others and to shape policy to fit private agendas. Millions of head of cattle are grazing on public ranges - public ranges that were designated for these wild horses and burros on land that belongs to American taxpayers, not to private entities.

These horses are connected to this land; their ancestors roamed unfettered on it over a million years ago. They represent the basic principal that our nation was founded on: FREEDOM. These animals are the physical embodiment of all that we as people and as a nation aspire to… liberty and self-determination. And at some level that resonates with each and every one of us. With every BLM round up that is allowed to happen, our heritage is under siege.”

Viggo Mortensen adds, “Thanks to all who have contacted their government representatives on behalf of mustangs, those unique animals that are living symbols of the nation's heritage and character. Your efforts have paid off, prompting Congress to strengthen the protections afforded to wild horses and burros in the United States of America [with the passage of HR 1018].

Mariana Tosca continues, “We have to stop eroding the law that ensures their protection, simply to cater to and placate private entities. America faces a very real risk that the wild horse will go the way of the buffalo, wiped out by a zealous hunt to make room for commercial interests.

Since the BLM is a government agency, with perceived mismanagement and conflict of interest issues, the public has a right to call for an independent audit of the horses in BLM managed short and long term holding facilities, as well as an independent count of the horses remaining on the ranges. The management of our remaining wild horses should be moved to another agency.”

A lawsuit was filed by IDA (In Defense of Animals) on November 23 aimed at halting the removal of over 2,700 horses in the Nevada Calico Complex which is scheduled to start on December 1.

Additional information on the unified call for a moratorium is available on the Equine Welfare Alliance and The Cloud Foundation websites.

Equine Welfare Alliance

Vicki | A Voice for Our Horses

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Calling All Horse Welfare Groups!

Hi, all. Could you also pass this on to any organizations that may be interested? I can’t locate the list I had from a few months ago when we were working on the Sheldon suit and many of them aren’t in my disty list. I sent to quite a few yesterday but don’t want to miss anyone. We want to list as many supporters as possible.

The Cloud Foundation
is sending a letter to Congress and a few others government departments calling for an immediate moratorium. Included with the letter will be a list of organizations that are in support of an immediate moratorium. If you would like to be included in the organization list, please let me know ASAP.

Please provide the organization name, one name for the organization (optional), link or linked logo (please also include link in case the link doesn’t come through).

We are planning on finalizing the list by early evening tomorrow (Sunday).

Thanks so much.


Vicki | A Voice for Our Horses

Sunday, November 8, 2009

BLM Always follows the Money - to Hell with the Horses!

In an " emergency" gather 325 horses were removed and four semi loads of sheep were unloaded on the Sulpher Range last Nov.. The allotments are not separated by fencing. BLM say they are finally down to AML with less than 200 horses remaining on 225,000 wild horse herd area. Last we heard, the water was still turned off at the solar panels. Somewhere in my cybespace are the pics I took.

----- Original Message -----
From: TerryW
To: Undisclosed-Recipient:;
Sent: Saturday, November 07, 2009 11:08 PM
Subject: From a couple years ago......

Hundreds of sheep brought in after wild horses removed: a supporter contacted us to report that, after 200 horses were removed in December from the Dry Lake Complex in Nevada, he was shocked to see about 1,000 sheep trucked in to that very area, less than two weeks after the round-up. Questioned on the issue, BLM confirmed that the area includes a grazing allotment for 2,200 private sheep, whereas for horses the “appropriate management level” is set at only 128 head, or one horse per 5,500 acres! What BLM failed to address is why substantially more forage is consistently allocated to private livestock on the very areas that should be “devoted principally” to wild horses under the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

The Science Behind Wild Horse Roundups
2007, KTVN
Rounding up wild horses carries inherent risks for the animals, so presumably, there should be a good reason for capturing them. In early September, a BLM roundup captured 900 horses in Nevada's Jackson Mountain Wilderness Area, supposedly because there wasn't enough forage to support them. When the horses got to the Palomino Valley holding facility, they started dying because of the feed they received. What bothers wild horse advocates the most is that while the BLM felt there was only room for 200 or fewer horses in the 280,000 acre Jackson Range, they said it was still okay to have 8,000 cattle and sheep grazing in the same area.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Congressional Committee Will Call for Moratorium on Wild Horse Gathers!

Congressional Committee Will Call for Moratorium on Gathers
Posted Oct 28, 2009 by lauraallen
o Horse Slaughter
© by Laura Allen, Executive Director, Animal Law Coalition
Update Nov. 2, 2009: A Congressional staff member has confirmed to Animal Law Coalition that the House Natural Resources Committee is calling on BLM to stop all gathers or removals of wild horses and burros until Congress takes action on the controversial issues surrounding the wild horses and burros.
A Congressional staff member told Animal Law Coalition, "It is my understanding that BLM has 11 more roundups planned for 2009 and is expecting to remove more than 6,000 horses. This is unacceptable especially in light of the fact that these roundups are not based on science."
Support the House Natural Resources Committee's call for a moratorium! Write or call your U.S. representative and senators and urge them to support a moratorium pending decisions by Congress on the role of the BLM and the course of the wild horses and burros program. Copy the Committee on any fax or letter to your representative and senators so they can see your support for a moratorium!
For more information, read Animal Law Coalition's call for a Congressional investigation and moratorium on gathers!
Original report: It's time for a public Congressional hearing and investigation of BLM's management of America's wild horses and burros including the new plan recently announced by DOI and BLM.
In the meantime and pending decisions about the course of the wild horse and burro program, there should be a moratorium on gathers.
On October 7, 2009 Dept. of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey announced a new 3 part plan for managing America's wild horses and burros in the future. But, other than a press release and a letter to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the specifics of the plan have not been made public. As Mr. Abbey said in the press conference held on Oct. 7, 2009, there are "thousands" of wild horse and burro enthusiasts who care about the fate of these animals. There are also innumerable experts and citizens concerned about BLM's management of these American icons.
There should be a public hearing and investigation held by Congress regarding BLM's management of America's wild horses and burros particularly before yet another plan essentially approved only by BLM and DOI is put in place. There should be a moratorium on all gathers until Congress has completed public hearings and an investigation and reached a decision about the appropriate management of these animals consistent with the laws that protect them. These are after all America's wild horses and burros.
The Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHBA) directs BLM to manage America's wild horses and burros to "maintain free roaming behavior". All management activities by law are to be at the "minimal feasible level". Under WFRHBA America's wild horses and burros are entitled to humane treatment and to remain free from "capture, ...harassment, or death".
But, instead, the BLM largely manages these animals by running them down with helicopters and gathering or removing them from public lands to holding facilities, separating families, injuring and even killing horses in the process. A terrifying ordeal that leaves wild horses and burros in holding pens where few are adopted, many are sold for slaughter and still more languish, their spirits and bodies broken. The operation of holding facilities will consume about 70% of the total 2009 budget for these animals.
Surely, that is contrary, to say the least, to the directive of the WFRHBA. Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer found in her August 5, 2009 opinion: "It would be anomalous to infer that by authorizing the custodian of the wild-free roaming horses and burros to manage them, Congress intended to permit the animals' custodian to subvert the primary policy of the statute by capturing and removing from the wild the very animals that congress sought to protect from being removed from the wild." Colorado Wild Horse and Burro Coalition, Inc. v. Salazar, No. 06-1609 (D.D.C 2009)
Mr. Salazar insists that "arid western lands and watersheds" can't support the few wild horses that remain "without significant damage to the environment" and "degrading public lands". These are reasons typically stated by BLM in its environmental assessments and environmental impact statements to support removals of wild horses and burros from herd areas. And, just as typically, there are no specifics to support these claims. For more examples....
Indeed, Mr. Salazar and BLM do not mention the thousands of cattle grazing and drinking and fouling water on these lands, BLM's land sales, development, increasing recreational use, and mining as well diversion of water from herd areas. Wildlife ecologists say if public lands are "degraded", something that is disputed, these factors are far more to blame. In fact, citizens living in the areas where there are wild horses and burros, including small ranchers, contradict BLM's assessments the range is "degraded" or lacks sufficient water for these few remaining animals.
Note that in 1990 BLM claimed the range was the best it had been in the last century. Yet, since then, there has been an increase in the numbers of wild horses and burros removed from the range. There is also no question BLM has routinely renewed grazing permits, finding the range satisfactory for grazing cattle and at the same time, issue environmental assessments that claim the very same range cannot support the few wild horses and burros that remain. BLM has also relied on outdated or what can only be called completely false assessments in its apparent zeal to justify removal of wild horses and burros.
Shouldn't Congress at least have a hearing or investigate whether BLM's claims are true? Shouldn't Congress consider whether BLM should even continue as the manager of the wild horses and burros program? An agency that has turned the WFRHBA on its head and instead of managing to maintain free roaming behavior, does so by removing and penning wild horses and burros.
It is also questionable whether BLM really has the authority, as it claims, to manage America's wild horses and burros in all respects pursuant to a multiple use concept. Though WFRHBA mentions "multiple-use relationship" in connection with specified ranges, it is very clear that the directive is to manage these animals otherwise only to "maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands" and "protect the natural ecological balance of all wildlife species which inhabit such lands, particularly endangered wildlife species".
In effect, WFRHBA authorizes only limited interference with wild horses and burros in herd areas where they were living in 1971. Nothing about removing wild horses and burros from herd areas where they lived in 1971 to allow multiple use such as cattle grazing, recreation for off road vehicles, mining or development. Also, protecting the ecological balance of all wildlife has never meant rounding up and removing whole species. Especially when there is a law that explicitly protects their right to exist in historic herd areas.
Even designated ranges managed under a multiple use concept are to be "devoted principally" to wild horses and burros. The wild horses and burros on these lands are not to be eliminated for cattle or mining or recreation or even secondary to these other uses.
Despite the limited authority to interfere with wild horses and burros under WFRHBA, the BLM has decided, however, the multiple public use concept applies to all herd areas as well as ranges. BLM even issued a regulation that effectively rewrites WFRHBA to say the "objectives of these regulations are management of wild horses and burros as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands under the principle of multiple use". 43 CFR § 4700.0-2 Yet, the WFRHBA says only that wild horses and burros "are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands". 16 U.S.C. §1331.
The BLM has also authorized itself to divide herd areas into "herd management areas", something not authorized by WFRHBA. 43 CFR 4710.3-1. In this way, with no statutory authority at all, BLM has limited wild horses and burros' access to thousands of acres that were historically their herd areas. This is done without thought about the horses' seasonal migration patterns or available resources. The BLM then removes wild horses and burros from the artificially created "herd management areas" on the basis there is insufficient forage, water or habitat! BLM also targets them for removal if they cross the artificial boundaries into their original herd areas.
While BLM has authorized itself to create divide herd areas into Herd Management Areas, its own regulations provide that "management of wild horses and burros shall be undertaken with the objective of limiting the animals' distribution to herd areas, 43 C.F.R. § 4710.4."Herd area" is defined by regulation as "the geographic area identified as having been used by a herd as its habitat in 1971," 43 C.F.R. §4710.4.
Another example of BLM's erosion of the WFRHBA protections is the rewording of the WFRHBA mandate "[a]ll management activities shall be at the minimal feasible level". BLM's regulation says "[m]anagement shall be at the minimum level necessary to attain the objectives identified in approved land use plans and herd management area plans." 43 CFR 4710.4, 16 U.S.C. §1333. Two very different laws. So if a land use plan authorizes a land giveaway or increased recreation or mining, " a minimum level" can mean round up and removal, according to the BLM.
The Federal Land Policy Management Act requires management of public lands under concepts of multiple use and sustained yield. 43 U.S.C. §§ 1701, et seq. But the multiple use concept does not trump the WFRHBA protections for wild horses. In fact, the statute makes clear that the protections under WFRHBA take precedence. FLPMA, 43 U.S.C. § 1732 (a) Yet, despite this, BLM has issued a regulation that provides "[w]ild horses and burros shall be considered comparably with other resource values in the formulation of land use plans." 43 C.F.R. §4700.0-6(b).
The BLM's land use plans make clear that contrary to WFRHBA, it does not decide to remove wild horses and burros only to maintain a "thriving natural ecological balance to the range, and protect the range from the deterioration associated with overpopulation". Nor are the protected wild horse ranges "devoted principally" to the use of wild horses and burros. Instead, the BLM clearly embraces the multiple use concept for all lands designated for wild horses and burros. Indeed, the plan seems to be to eliminate or zero out the wild horses and burros in favor of increased development and recreational use, mining, and cattle.
Surely, BLM's fast and loose interpretation of the WFRHBA is more than sufficient for Congress to take a look, hold a public hearing and investigate before America's icon is lost forever.
It should be noted that BLM has also virtually ignored the directive in the WFRHBA to "maintain a current inventory of wild free-roaming horses and burros on given areas of the public lands". 16 U.S.C. §1333(b). According to WFRHBA, the inventory is critical in determining appropriate management levels or AML and whether there is indeed an overpopulation or excess horses and burros. Yet, BLM has gathered and removed thousands of horses without the important information necessary to determine if the removal is legal. It's time to take a look, an independent census and standardize AML determinations.
It is important for Congress to open up for public review the work of an agency that has operated largely in secret, offering the public generally pre-determined courses of action, making a joke out of the public comment process. It is also time BLM or whatever agency that is put in charge of the wild horses and burros took seriously the WFRHBA mandate requiring consultation not with special interests but also a range of independent experts recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, the states and those with "scientific expertise and special knowledge of wild horse and burro protection...[and] wildlife management". 16 U.S.C. §1333(b).
Congress should hold public hearings and investigate Secretary Salazar's plan in particular. There are innumerable experts outside of the BLM who should have an opportunity to weigh in on how BLM continues to manage America's wild horses and burros.
Secretary Salazar delivered the following 3 part proposal to Sen. Reid: 1. BLM will work with non-profits and the "thousands" of wild horse enthusiasts to create sanctuaries and preserves in the Midwest or east. In fact, BLM appears to have already decided on sever preserves. It is not known who is involved in these transactions or how BLM decided on these preserves. Surely, the public is entitled to know how this happened. Mr. Salazar says tourism would be encouraged and could provide a source of revenue. But the mandate of the WFRHBA is to avoid such zoo-like settings for these American icons. The idea, the law, in fact, is that these animals are to remain free to roam on the public lands where they were living in 1971 when the Act went into effect.
2. Mr. Salazar will designate more ranges for wild horses. He cited the Pryor Mountain herd, recently rounded up and decimated, as an example of a range under BLM protection.
3. This is one of the most troubling aspects of Mr. Salazar and Mr. Abbey's plan. They say BLM will work to restore the "sustainability" of herds and public lands. BLM will continue to round up and remove horses but step up "fertility control", monitor sex ratios, and introduce non-reproducing herds. More like BLM will work toward the extinction of herds. The obvious concern is how a herd that is non-reproducing or sterilized can remain self-sustaining, genetically viable, as mandated by law. There are serious questions here about BLM's determination of sex ratios. These proposals will have a very negative effect on herds and herd behavior. This plan euphemistically referred to as "restoring sustainability" during the press conference, is, in fact, the opposite, a plan to exterminate the wild horses and burros and in doing so, create great chaos and suffering in the herds. In effect, this plan raises real concerns about compliance with WFRHBA's mandate that BLM should manage these animals to maintain "free-roaming behavior" and a "thriving natural ecological balance" in herd areas.
There are also growing concerns about the effectiveness and use of the contraceptive, PZP, particularly in view of its effect on herd behavior and dangerous side effects such as out of season foals.
These plans likely stem from BLM's secret discussions that began in July, 2008 about ways to eliminate wild horses through unlimited slaughter, killing, manipulation of sex ratios, sterilization of mares, creation of gelding herds and the like. It is telling that here there is no promise in this plan to stop the slaughter of these wild animals or killing of healthy animals. There is no promise to stop the round ups, the decimation of herds, the brutal treatment of America's wild horses and burros in holding facilities.
During its discussions in the past year BLM considered ways to keep the public away from round ups and the killing of healthy horses and burros and planned to brand protests as "eco-terrorism". This was all to be done in secret. If Congress does not hold a hearing, investigate this plan and this agency, BLM will have succeeded.
The wild horses and burros can be saved. There has to be a better way to manage these animals other than by hiring criminals to run them down with helicopters and penning some for life and sending others to slaughter. The WFRHBA requires them to be protected in their herd areas where they were living in 1971. And that is what the BLM should do.
Find and contact your U.S. senators here and urge them to hold a hearing or investigate BLM's management of America's wild horses and burros and tell the BLM to stop rounding up and killing or removing our wild horses and burros or selling them for slaughter and return them to the lands where they were living in 1971.
Go here to write your U.S. representative and urge him or her to do the same!

Vicki | A Voice for Our Horses

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Scroll below the following response for press release

All agencies have failed and refused to answer the simple question....what is the cost of managing genetically viable herds on their native ranges vs the cost of removal, holding, and adoption???

Where is the legal authority to transport non excess wild horses and burros across state lines for sale and adoption, or in holding facilities?

Restoring the millions of acres of Congressionally designated (vacant)herd areas may be a huge savings to our Herds and the taxpayers. Its OUR Heritage...ya the loss of our inheritance without the benefit of probate.

The land management plans that vacated these herd areas are legally defective/ technically flawed, and politically motivated. They can be corrected/remedied as BLM Tom Pogacnik stated. But BLM won't do it until Congress tells them. BLM Don Glenn suggested we sue. Since when it is OUR DUTY to sue the Guvmint to make them do their fiduciary duty?

Alliance calls for suspension of wild horse musters
October 31, 2009

Wild stallion Cloud, whose herd was recently mustered.
An alliance of more than 60 organisations has called for a suspension of all wild-horse musters in the United States, saying roundups have intensified and some herds have been removed entirely.

The group also voiced its concern for the ongoing genetic viability of some herds reduced in Bureau of Land Management musters.

The Equine Welfare Alliance said it wanted an immediate moratorium on the gathering of wild horses and burros by all government agencies.

Its call follows similar demands by The Cloud Foundation, The Animal Law Coalition, wildlife ecologist Craig Downer and Mustang author Deanne Stillman.

The moratorium call comes just three weeks after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a raft of proposals for future wild-herd management, including up to seven new herd areas further east and more aggressive use of long-term contraception.

Salazar admitted "The current path of the wild horse and burro programme is not sustainable for the animals, the environment, or the taxpayer."
More than 30,000 wild horses are held in captivity, only a few thousand fewer than still inhabit the western rangelands.

However, the alliance, an umbrella group comprising more than 60 member organisations, voiced its disapproval of Salazar's proposals.
"The Salazar plan would simply throw the herds off of their historical Western lands set aside for them in the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act and put them into long-term holding facilities which it renames 'refuges'," spokeswoman Vicki Tobin said.

The alliance said deficiencies in the current herd management programme had been pointed out to Bureau of Land Management boss Bob Abbey in an August letter from Congressmen Raul Grijalva.

"To date, none of the deficiencies have been corrected and until range studies can be completed, there is no scientific evidence justifying the removal of wild horses and burros from the land," alliance representatives John Holland and Shelley Sawhook said.

Following an independent report in 2008 that found the bureau did not have funding to support the estimated 37,000 horses held in captivity, Congress increased their budget.

"Instead of using the funding for its intended purpose, the bureau has intensified round-ups and has zeroed out many herds while leaving the remaining herds genetically unviable as a result of reduced numbers and mares that were given birth control," Holland and Sawhook said.
"The increased round-ups are coming at time when there are more wild horses in holding pens than on the open range at a cost of millions of dollars to tax payers."

Holland continued: "The huge number of horses being gathered is effectively guaranteeing a new and worse budget crisis in the immediate future."
The alliance said many wild horse advocates suspected the Department of Interior and bureau were on a course to exterminate America's wild horses and burros.

It cited a bureau ecologist, saying: "Wild horses do not belong in western ecosystems," and that "The 1971 Horse and Burro Act was based on emotions, not science".

"In a comparative analysis of free-roaming wild horses and burros in relation to habitat, wildlife and livestock populations, wild horses and burros populations pale in comparison," Holland and Sawhook said.

"In most cases, the wild horses and burros are being removed in record numbers with no scientific evidence justifying the need for these removals.
"According to the BLM schedule, another 12,000 wild horses and burros are targeted for removal in 2010."

The group argued that removing horses without scientific justification is in violation of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act.

"The 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act is a law and Americans are demanding that instead of ignoring the law, the bureau enforce it. An immediate moratorium on round-ups must be issued until the range studies are completed and the discrepancies are resolved."

Vicki | A Voice for Our Horses