BLM Sets Up Toll-Free Number to Spur More Adoptions...
Officials try to place horses....
..."Bureau of Land Management director Kathleen Clarke said the agency is looking to place wild horses in safe environments as it carries out a law Congress passed last fall to speed horse and burro sales.
'We have a law that we need to comply with, and we'd like to find positive ways to do that,' Clarke said.
The new law removed restrictions on wild horse sales, prompting criticism from activists that the animals sold by the BLM might end up in slaughterhouses.
The law allows the BLM to sell any horse older than 10 years of age and horses that have been put up for adoption three times without success. [Editor's note: According to European butchers who sell horsemeat, the ideal cut of meat is a horse that, a)has not been treated with medications (such as a wild horse) and, b)is 10 - 15 years of age. The meat is at its most tender at that age.]
BLM has contacted wild-horse groups and roughly a dozen Indian tribes to place more horses in private sanctuaries, Clarke said.
'We are casting our nets and trying to generate interest from all kinds of groups,' Clarke said. 'We want to do business with anyone who may be able to work with us.
*******The BLM next week will unveil a toll free phone number, 1-800-710-7597, and an e-mail at email@example.com to solicit proposals from the public, agency officials said. *******
Rights groups have lobbied the BLM to devise a policy to safeguard the horses. Government investigators in a 1990 report found that thousands of horses were killed when the agency waived adoption fees for large-scale adoptions during the 1980s.
With horse meat valued at $1 per pound, the average horse could fetch $1,200 at slaughter plants in Texas and Illinois that pack meat for sale in France and China, activists said.
'We feel it is very important to have a dialogue with the agency,' said Michael Markarian, vice president at the Humane Society of the United States.
But Markarian said few groups have the resources to care for large numbers of horses.
'We're not in the position of privately funding new sanctuaries to clean up the government's mess,' Markarian said. 'We need the BLM to let the wild horses roam freely on the public lands. The public lands should be viewed as sanctuaries for these horses, not grazing allotments for ranchers.'
Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., said last week the new law will force BLM to bolster its troubled adoption program.
'BLM has failed in the past because of the limitations placed on them,' said Rachel Buzzetti, executive director of the Nevada Cattlemen's Association.
The BLM estimates it will spend in 2005 more than half of its budget housing an estimated 24,000 wild horses, about $20.1 million. Roughly 8,400 of the horses must be sold under the new law.
The BLM for the past six years has asked Congress for additional money to pay for the rising costs in gathering, adopting and housing 'excess' wild horses.
The BLM estimates 37,000 wild horses roam 10 Western states, about half of them on Nevada public lands. The Nevada Cattlemen's Association estimates at least 25,000 wild horses live on the range, far too many, it contends, eating precious forage. [Editor's note: Wild horses and burros are a tiny minority to the millions of cattle that share this land; studies have shown damage to these public lands have been caused by cattle, not horses.]
The BLM is looking to reduce horse and burros to 28,000 in all 10 states by 2007, program manager Jeff Rawson said.
The Humane Society of the United States, the Las Vegas-based National Wild Horse Association and other groups are petitioning Congress to pass legislation by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., that would repeal the law.