Letter: Management of wild animals prioritizes human interests
I’m Rick Karcich, a retired engineer and wild horse and burro advocate from Centennial.
In my humble opinion, the treatment of wild horses and burros during roundups, while devastating, really illustrates the way that human “management” of animals always prioritizes human interests, such as grazing space for cattle at the expense of federally protected horses.
For years, the Bureau of Land Management has taken healthy wild horses and burros from their legally protected lands in the American West at the expense of taxpayers. Notably, keeping wild horses on public lands with their natural predators cost taxpayers nothing. Yet the BLM roundups continue, taking tens of thousands of wild horses into captivity, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
The wild horse and burro program is nothing more than a grazing program ancillary, designed to give ranchers unfettered access to cheap feed on America’s public lands.
A five-year Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) investigation of BLM wild horse and burro off-range corrals, undertaken by the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, noted violations, including misrepresentations, lack of scientific accounting for wild horses and burros on and off range, multitudes of inconsistencies in documentation presented to both the American public and Congress and waste of taxpayer funds.
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The white paper that resulted from this research documented intentional attempts by the BLM to mislead and confuse the taxpaying public and legislators. Data from this 2017 report showed that large numbers of horses disappeared from the holding pens or during transports. Other issues documented include inhumane treatment of wild horses and burros, both on and off range, and herd growth rates based on BLM’s own statistics that are scientifically and biologically impossible and the main driver of roundups.
Direct and indirect subsidies to public-lands ranchers of the BLM’s wild horse and burro “roundup and warehouse” policy now total $500 million to $1 billion every single year for a less than 2% contribution to the U.S.’s beef supply and massive destruction of our public lands.
With public lands grazing fees far below national rates, BLM is losing over $100 million per year on the program. The current livestock grazing fee sits well below market value, at $1.35 per AUM, but then ranchers charge taxpayers $60 per AUM to house wild horses on their pastures. All of this for a program that contributes only 1.9% to the nation’s beef supply.
The BLM’s wild horse and burro program has become a “capture and conversion” cottage industry of federally protected horses and burros being scapegoated for profit by welfare ranchers, all compliments of the American taxpayer.
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On Tuesday, Peak Health Alliance, a nonprofit, locally-led insurance purchasing alliance, gave a presentation to the Routt County commissioners. We attended the meeting (remotely), and this is what we learned: