Yet another government report is adding to the evidence that the BLM wild horse and burro program is irretrievably mismanaged and broken as the agency continues on a collision course with disaster in the costly and cruel roundup of an astounding 1,100 wild horses from eastern Nevada beginning November 1st.
The Interior Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) last week released a report finding that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was wasting tax dollars and in some cases violating the law in its contracts for warehousing captured wild horses that the agency has rounded up and removed from the range. The OIG found, for example, that instead of maximizing the use of cost-effective long-term pastures for wild horses, the agency was storing horses in expensive short term holding pens for as long as five years. The OIG also found that BLM had no strategic pan for managing our nation's wild horses and burros. Like other government reports, this one concluded that the wild horse and burro program is on a collision course with fiscal disaster unless the agency changes course.
This is only the latest in a string of government reports documenting widespread agency mismanagement and corruption. Others include;
· Government Accountability Office (GAO) report of 2008 finding: “If not controlled, off-the-range holding costs will continue to overwhelm the program.”
· National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report of 2013 finding that “Continuation of ‘business as usual practices’ will be expensive and unproductive for the BLM and the public it serves.”
· Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report of 2015 finding that 1,800 wild horses sold by BLM to a known kill buyer had been slaughtered in Mexico in violation of the Congressional prohibition on selling wild horses for slaughter.
· OIG Report of 2015 addressing allegations of financial improprieties at the Mustang Heritage Foundation, which receives over $1 million from BLM annually to train and place captured wild horses. The allegations resulted in the resignation of the Executive Director and reshuffling of the Foundation’s board.
· OIG Report of 2013 finding $2 million in BLM overpayments to the Utah Department of Corrections for holding and training of captured wild horses.
Yet despite calls for reform from all quarters, and promises to reform by former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, the agency continues undaunted on its destructive path toward financial ruin and irreversible harm to our nation’s wild horses and burro herds. The roundup of 1,100 wild horses from Nevada that begins on Monday is further evidence of this agency’s unwillingness to change course.
The only solutions the agency offers – kill 45,000 horses in holding so it can again fill up the holding pens with more captured mustangs or throw more money at this broken program – are unacceptable to the American public. We can only hope the next administration takes the reins of this out of control government agency and forces real change on the corrupt cowboy culture that currently controls it to the detriment of the American taxpayers and our cherished wild horses and burros.