Sunday, January 2, 2011

Slaughter or PZP?

I read this article in the Spokesman this morning. Personally, I found it disturbing, especially since PZP has so much promise.

This week I'll be preparing TJ's final Q and A--her observations of the mares in the Spring Creek herd given PZP-22 and her documentation project. I hope, as these questions come to a head, what to do with too many horses costing too much money and destroying too much land--people will begin to take more seriously controlling the population on the first end (contraception) rather than the last end (roundups and--YES--slaughter).

Most of us can agree--there are too many wild horses in holding. There are not enough people wanting to adopt wild horses--nor should they feel pressured to. It is costing too much money.

We can agree on this, but we can disagree on the solution. Wallis' non-profit wants slaughter; I want contraceptives.

The other issue here is that though Representative Wallis has a non-profit (the one organizing the summit), it's also reported that she's starting a private company, a Limited Liability Corporation that will slaughter and sell meat within Wyoming. This appears to be a conflict of interest. I started a 501c-3 in the past, and one of the first questions they asked is if you could benefit financially from the work of the non-profit. Again, this is what's being written; if it's not true, please inform us--I'd hate to falsely accuse. Link here.

As our country struggles to come out of the recession and as states struggle to balance budgets, wild horses are going to be threatened with a loss of protection. Instead of apathy, which it is easy to sink into when you don't see a solution to a problem--I want to encourage everyone who loves Mustangs to at least consider Mustang contraception--study it, provide input, spread the word to others.

Here's a link to the summit. Summit of the Horse.

This is what their front page says: If you are sick and tired of so-called horse “advocates,” radical animal rightists, and Hollywood do-gooders defining our relationship with horses: if you are disgusted by lawmakers dictating impractical, counterproductive, and damaging measures that hurt horse people, and cause horses to suffer…then you need to be here.

What?? I'm not a hollywood do-gooder, and I'm not a so-called "advocate". Yet, I do want what is best for the Mustangs, and I sure don't think that's slaughter.

The article from the Spokesman-Review--January 1, 2011:

Herds Overrun Ranges

SEATTLE – Horse people hope the new year will bring a solution to an old problem: too many horses.

A horse summit planned for the first week of the year is expected to draw to Las Vegas representatives from Northwest tribes, federal agencies and conservation groups, as well as wildlife advocates, and horse people vexed by too many horses with no market to cull the herds.

“It’s bad and getting worse,” said Sue Wallis, a Wyoming legislator and member of United Horsemen, a Wyoming-based nonprofit organizing the summit. She backs development of a plant in Wyoming where horses can be slaughtered for human consumption – which she says is the humane and ethical solution to the problem.

[Huh? Human consumption? Who in the U.S. eats horse meat? Is it going to be shipped overseas?]

“We are not just some meat-industry schmucks,” she said of slaughter supporters. “What we need is humane and regulated horse processing in the U.S. where we can control it, and we can set really high standards. We are horse people concerned about the well being of the horse.”

The Yakama, Warm Springs, Shoshone-Bannock, Paiute, Crow, Apache, Navajo, and Pueblo tribes are among those expected at next week’s summit to talk about horse troubles, as herds keep multiplying on tribal lands, destroying a fragile balance of land and wildlife.

The horse has proved tricky to reckon with: Neither wildlife nor livestock intentionally grown for slaughter, growing horse populations have defied a solution since the U.S. slaughter industry for horses was shut down in 2007 by animal-rights activists, many of whom objected to the way the animals were treated and killed.

While the slaughter industry is still technically legal in this country, a congressional ban on spending federal money to pay inspectors of horse carcasses intended for human consumption, primarily overseas, killed the industry.

Populations have been building ever since, as the bottom fell out of the market that helped tribes and other horse managers keep numbers in check. Today, horses are trucked to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, and many more are overpopulating public and tribal lands – to the detriment, land managers say, of wildlife, native plants and the health of the range.

The Bureau of Land Management estimates it has nearly 12,000 more horses on its lands than the range can support, and the agency is feeding more than 11,400 corralled animals it can’t find adopters for.

The BLM spent $36.9 million in 2010 alone just to feed and care for horses it has rounded up and confined in corrals and put out to pasture in long-term holding facilities in the Midwest. And the cost is going up.

United Horsemen members want to see a solution in 2011, Wallis said. Tribes, too, are seeking an answer. The Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition has morphed into the National Tribal Horse Coalition, as other tribes joined with Northwest nations that last year embarked on a feasibility study of opening a slaughter facility on tribal lands.

That study, paid for by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is expected back soon and will help guide tribes’ decision making, said Jason Smith of the Warm Springs Tribe in Oregon, president of the coalition.

The Yakama reservation offers a good look at the problem. There, wild horses pour over the backcountry of the reservation in growing numbers. Their beauty is part of the problem, stoking a mystique around wild horses that has made them a hard problem to talk about.

Like feral cats, the horses multiply at a prodigious rate: With no natural predators, and these days, no market for purchase, the herds are estimated at about 12,000 animals and growing.

That’s up from about 500 animals in the 1950s; 2,500 in the 1990s, and more than 4,500 in 2006. Carrying capacity of the tribe’s rangeland was about 1,000 horses in 2007, and it’s significantly less than that today because of continued degradation from overgrazing, said Jim Stephenson, big-game biologist and wild-horse project leader for the Yakama Nation.

By now, deer are mostly gone from several of the game units he helps manage for the tribe, Stephenson said, because of competition from horses. The tribe is also worried about how grazing pressure from horses is affecting its efforts to re-establish populations of sage grouse, and reintroduce pronghorn antelope to the reservation this winter.

In the past, the tribe lived in balance with these herds. Originally of Spanish origin, the herds today include descendants of domestic animals turned out by homesteaders, and lately, horses dumped by people too hammered by the recession and high cost of hay to keep their animals.

First floated publicly in the spring of 2009, the idea of a tribal horse-processing facility is controversial and runs into a thicket of regulatory and legal roadblocks, from food-safety concerns to international trade and the federal-inspection question.

There is also widespread popular opposition in a country long wedded to a romantic notion of the wild horses of the West. “Horses are not food animals in this country; they are companions,” said Scott Beckstead, Oregon state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

“My guess is they are scrambling to find a way to make it feasible, but they are fighting against the tide of public opinion,” Beckstead said.

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