Letter: No emergency at Sand Wash Basin
As a regular visitor to Sand Wash Basin, I was appalled to learn that the Bureau of Land Management plans to remove 783 horses in the upcoming gather in the basin. That is a ridiculously large number (80% of the herd) given that the conditions do not warrant this emergency gather.
The drought-caused reduction of viable water holes was an issue earlier this summer, but due to donations by thousands of people who love and support the basin horses, the BLM OK’d water hauling to tanks for the horses that would get them through to winter.
That was not necessary, as the monsoon rains refilled a number of water holes, and green grass started growing, again. There is currently no emergency — despite photos posted by the BLM, the basin horses are fit and healthy.
I do agree that there are too many horses in the basin now — they have become victims of their own success. Some need to be removed in a humane gather, but no more than half the number currently planned. Have you been to the basin recently or ever? You would see that the horses are doing remarkably well despite drought conditions. Certainly better than they would fare in holding pens for the rest of their lives or in Mexican slaughterhouses.
And it is not the horses alone that will be affected by a huge gather; the many thousands of volunteers and followers and donors who love the horses are distraught by this news and will be even more so as they learn the names of the horses that will have to be euthanized due to injury caused by the inhumane helicopters in the basin’s rough terrain. Many longstanding equine families will be destroyed in the process.
Many of us have sent emails and letters to BLM officials, asking them to reduce the number of horses to be captured and removed. It would save a huge amount of suffering, not just for these beautiful horses but also their many thousands of admirers, as well as gateway towns like Craig and Maybell that depend on income from basin visitors.
If you would like to make a statement and help save the horses, the BLM’s Wild Horse Specialist is Ben Smith. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and his phone number is 970-244-3084.
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