Forest Service plan for Arizona’s Heber wild horses could mean death in 2023
By Staci-lee Sherwood
A looming tragedy is about to take place in Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreaves forest. A a herd of about 400 wild horses, relatively untouched and unspoiled by humans, is facing a death sentence. Nearly all other areas where wild horses had roamed freely for centuries have been destroyed. Despite a landmark law in 1971 that granted wild horses and burros legal protection and freedom from human harassment while living on 50 million acres of public land, they have never been truly protected.
No sooner was the law signed than ranchers, developers and mining interests began to rip it to shreds. Over the years their land has been reduced by nearly half, their population has been drastically reduced and fragmented and the word ‘livestock’ is used to get the public into thinking they’re not native wildlife. Brutal and unnecessary roundups have taken place throughout the plains and western states.
In reality most horses and almost all burros are sold to kill buyers for slaughter, not adopted. All of this is known and actively supported by the Bureau of Land MISmanagement (BLM) despite the billions of taxpayer dollars given to them to insure the animals protection. The BLM’s entire wild horse and burro policy is contrary to US law but neither the Dept of Interior officials nor the Dept of Justice care to investigate.
Forest Service threat
The Heber wild horses in Arizona are managed by the Forest Service (FS), which oddly enough comes under the jurisdiction of the Dept of Agriculture. They have a massive $7,000,000,000 annual budget and their own so called ‘non-profit’ yet can’t manage to keep wildfires at bay or forests healthy and sustainable. Many of their policies run contrary to common sense. They should not be in the business of managing wild horses. Their version of managing mimics that of the BLM, brutal roundups, swift often private auctions for kill buyers then quickly move in the livestock to graze on once healthy land where horses lived.
The FS is part of the USDA, whose only approach to animals is two ways, dead now or dead later. They aren’t in the business of conservation but of slaughter so having any part of their department attempt to manage wild animals makes for a schizophrenic policy at best. USDA is home to Wildlife Services, that agency kills millions of native wild animals, many endangered, annually for the purpose of protecting private ranchers.
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