One of the “Horse Groups” that Partners with the BLM

It was at a National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting in Reno, Nevada on June 30, 2008, that former Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Henri Bisson publicly discussed what he described as “difficult issues” facing the Wild Horse and Burro Program.  Bisson said

that with current funding of about $37 million, the BLM cannot continue both the gather operations necessary to maintain an ecological balance on the public rangeland and feed and care for the approximately 30,000 horses currently in holding.

The BLM is faced with three alternatives to address the situation.  They are: 1) sale and euthanasia [slaughter] of excess horses for which no adoption demand exists; 2) fully fund gathering and lifetime holding or 3) stop gathering all wild horses and burros.

Bisson said the BLM had not exercised the first alternative (what he called “these options” (slaughter or sale for slaughter) “in the past because of public sentiment.”

A November, 2009, meeting of the Society for Range Management convened especially to discuss the Wild Horse and Burro Program “issues”, the SRM (a 4,000 member “professional society dedicated to supporting persons who work with rangelands and have a commitment to their sustainable use,”) featured Bud Cribley, BLM Deputy Assistant Director, Renewable Resources & Planning.  Cribley lauded Bisson from the podium, saying that Bisson had “put his head on the chopping block” at the July 2008 Advisory Board meeting by discussing the possibility of slaughtering healthy wild horses.

Here is a blurb about Bud Cribley published at a “Geospatial ’09” conference webpage–Cribley was a speaker at the conference:

Bud Cribley
Bud C. Cribley

Bud received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, with a range management option from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. He started his career for the Bureau of Land Management(BLM) the summer of 1975 as a Range and Forestry Technician at the Arizona Strip District and then went on to be a Range Conservationist for the Malta District and the Lewistown District in Montana. From there he moved to Escalante, Utah and worked for the Cedar City District. Bud became a Supervisory Range Conservationist for the Montrose District in Gunnison Colorado and then became an Area Manager and then an Assistant District Manager for the Winnemucca District in Winnemucca Nevada.

He then moved onto the BLM Headquarters Office in Washington DC to become the Senior Wild Horse and Burro Specialist. After that he was temporarily the Acting Group Manager there for the Wild Horse and Burro Program. Bud then worked in the Washington DC office of United States Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho as a BLM Legislative Fellow. After that he became a Natural Resource Advisor in the BLM Headquarters Office and then Division Chief, Rangeland Resources in the office of the Assistant Director for Renewal Resources and Planning. Bud was Acting State Director for the BLM Idaho State Office in beautiful Boise, Idaho for eight months. Upon returning to Washington DC Bud assume the duties of his present position of Deputy Assistant Director for Renewable Resources and Planning.

The June, 2008, Advisory Board meeting attendees included BLM Nevada Associate Director Amy Leuders, who reported at the meeting that the

State of Nevada is still considering litigation associated with the removal of wild horses.  Also, the Fallon Facility will be managed under the Washington Office to help the Nevada State Office focus on land management.

Nevada State Wild Horse and Burro Lead, Susie Stokke, also attended.  (Does anyone else wonder how the BLM justifies sending so many employees around the country to attend all these meetings?).  Stokke mentioned

there will need to be emergency gathers this year because of drought conditions.  The gathers will include North Stillwater HMA, Fox and Lake Range HMA, and Nevada Wild Horse Range.  The Nevada Wild Horse Range gather is currently under way and Dr. Al Kane, APHIS veterinarian, is in attendance.  The National Wild Horse Association, one of the BLM Nevada’s partners, will care for orphan foals, if necessary.

If former BLM Director Henri Bisson can be believed, the only reason the BLM has not already sent to slaughter the wild horses that he described as “those horses,” is

because of public sentiment.

If Amy Leuders of the BLM spoke the truth, the new Fallon Facility (looks like a feedlot) that the Calico Complex horses are being shipped to is being managed out of Washington, D.C. so that the Nevada BLM office may “focus on land management” (instead of focusing on managing and protecting “those horses” that the BLM has obviously never had the desire to do).

Managing the Fallon Facility (and the horses in it) out of Washington, D.C. and under the direct authority of the Secretary of the Interior is a rare example of what Congress probably envisioned when it gave the Secretary the duty of protecting wild horse and burros in the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, under Section 1333 “Power and Duties of Secretary” [emphasis added]:

All wild free-roaming horses and burros are hereby declared to be under the jurisdiction of the Secretary for the purpose of management and protection in accordance with the provisions of this Act. The Secretary is authorized and directed to protect and manage wild free-roaming horses and burros as components of the public lands, and he may designate and maintain specific ranges on public lands as sanctuaries for their protection and preservation, where the Secretary after consultation with the wildlife agency of the State wherein any such range is proposed and with the Advisory Board established in section 7 of this Act deems such action desirable. The Secretary shall manage wild free-roaming horses and burros in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands.

Though the Secretary’s power was internally delegated to the BLM, the delegation was apparently never codified, and the lack of formal, statutory delegation was probably fatal to the BLM’s exercise of authority and contributed to the failure of stewardship.  Secretary Salazar’s plan, though ill-conceived, gets the order right in this one sense.  The Secretary himself is finally taking steps to protect and manage the animals, and leaving management of the land itself to his delegates in the BLM.

And if what Susie Stokke of the BLM said was accurate, at least one of “the horse groups” that can be counted on to help out the BLM is the National Wild Horse Association (NWHA), a BLM “partner,” that “will care for orphan foals, if necessary.”

Unfortunately, it once again seems to be necessary to have someone “care for” foals orphaned by a round-up.  Tragically, this has become more than a “difficult issue” for the orphaned foals, the mares that were shot for having poor body condition (that may or may not have been enough to survive the winter; we will never know, and all the horses forever separated from band members and the range they knew as homeland.

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