I'm so glad that the mustangs of the West have a powerful ally in the person of Madeline Pickens, wife of Boone Pickens. She has been in their corner for a long time - one time hoping to provide thousands of acres for them to roam freely without fear from the Bureau of Land Mangement. Their helicopters have caused many of them to lose their lives in their futile exhausting attempt to evade these flying "monsters."
One of the fatal Mustang Roundups occurred in Nevada in July, '10. At least 34 horses died or were euthanized during and shortly after a forced roundup where they had to run for miles in extreme heat.
I always believed that the Bush Administration did not care about animal welfare at all, but I had hoped that the Obama Administration would be different. Sadly, this is just not the case. They seem to be unconcerned and have allowed the BLM to carry on these terrible roundups of the past. Weren't our wild horses of the West supposed to be protected by the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Act? I just will never understand government.
In my opinion, Congress has not even been concerned or done very little to enforce the Animal Welfare Act - an act which was suppose to mandate humane treatment of animals. I believe it was pushed through Congress by former Senator Robert Dole to whom we are grateful even though it seems it is poorly executed. And now - the obviously hard won Act of "Wild Horse Annie" (Velma Johnston) has been so watered down that it no longer is meaningful and protective to these beautiful horses of the West whom many of us see as part of our heritage.
Thank goodness that after the Nevada round up - there was a cry of outrage and caring people obviously wrote their congresspeople re this cruelty. As a result, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar received a letter from 54 members of the House of Representatives asking the BLM to stop the deadly "helicopter ambush" roundups on federally protected horse preserves. There you go - FEDERALLY PROTECTED HORSE PRESERVES. These were clearly violations of the act. Why didn't some heads roll?
Animal Rights people claimed the Nevada roundup occurred in the heat of summer and before the herd's delicate foaling season had ended simply for the benefit of private companies starting an open-pit mining venture and an oil and gas pipeline. It sounds very likely to me. Why should they worry that they are taking from horses these lands bequeathed to them, supposedly for posterity? Money and profits always top caring and compassion for people like this.
The Representatives also asked the BLM to update its science with respect to the management of approximately 40,000 wild horses and burros living in over 10 Western states. As a result, the BLM responded and has announced it has asked the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council to undertake a formal review of its polices to ensure the Interior Department is using the "best science available" to manage its wild horse and burro program. The BLM has admitted it has been 20 or 30 years since the NAS/NRC last evaluated the soundness of its roundup procedures.
In my opinion, the question to be addressed should have been - why is the BLM rounding up "protected" horses in the first place? If there are too many of them - why haven't they been employing contraceptive measures? Sometimes I wonder if we are really living in the 21st century.
Despite the supposedly good news re the commission employing the NAS/NRC to review the policies - which will start in January 2011 and be issued in 2013. In the meantime the BLM says it cannot halt or change its roundup polices between now and the time the new reports are issued. Oh really - and why can't they?
So much for rejoicing that the horses and those who care for them have won. Instead, it seems likely that these cruel roundups will probably be resumed so that these lands - per the BLM - will have achieved appropriate management levels.
Now some good news re the mustangs. Madeline Pickens has made sure that 6 beautiful mustangs will march proudly in the 2011 Rose Bowl Parade. She is asking all of us who love the mustangs to note that they are 82 and 83 in the parade lineup. She tells us that we can vote for their float (Vote for the 2011 Tournament of Roses Viewer' Choice Award.) By doing so we will be giving more attention to the mustangs. You can also text "Float 83" to cast your vote on your mobile phone to "50649."
* No charge to vote, but message & data rates may apply.
* Vote up to 5 times for your favorite float.
* Voting begins at 8 a.m. PST on January 1, 2011,
* and will end at 2:10 p.m. PST on January 1, 2011.
Well, I don't have a cell phone so I can't vote for them. However, these beautiful mustangs and their float will be in my thoughts and prayers. I will have my eyes glued to the TV until I see them in their first ever 2011 Rose Parade. I hope their appearance will be a portent of better things to come for them.