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In Battle to Save America’s Wild Horses, Activists Engage in Disruption

January 26, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

The U.S. government is waging a war on America’s wild horses, and Friends of Animals (FOA) is getting increasingly aggressive in its efforts to stop it.

FOA asserts that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – the federal agency charged with protecting wild horses – is wiping them out on behalf of powerful ranchers who want the public land to graze their cattle. The government either sterilizes the horses with PZP or uses low-flying helicopters to chase them into fenced-in traps which bring them – and their freedom – to a screeching halt.

Helicopters chase terrified horses into traps (photo: returntofreedom.org)

Helicopters chase terrified horses into traps (photo: returntofreedom.org)

“The BLM is exterminating wild horses because cattle ranchers regard them as pests,” said Edita Birnkrant, Director of Campaigns for Friends of Animals. “But we’ve reach a tipping point. To save those who remain, we must disrupt business as usual.”

At a recent BLM meeting in Nevada, Ms. Birnkrant seized control of the microphone and announced that the “BLM is managing wild horses to extinction through roundups and PZP” and “pimping our land out to ranchers.” Within minutes, she and her colleague Nicole Rivard, who filmed the protest, were escorted out of the conference room and expelled from the hotel, in spite of the fact that they were paying guests.

The Nevada disruption was not FOA’s first act of civil disobedience. In September, 15 protesters with FOA occupied the BLM’s Wyoming office and temporarily blocked the entrance to a nearby holding pen for wild horses.

Activists block entrance to horse holding pen

Activists block entrance to horse holding pen

In an effort to protect the remaining horses, FOA isn’t just relying on provocative protests. In June 2014, the organization filed a petition it with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list North American wild horses as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act. They expect an answer within the next five months.

The BLM vehemently denies allegations by horse advocates and claims that it works to “ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands.” But the “smaller print” on its website reveals the conflict of interest that FOA and other groups describe: “The BLM monitors rangeland conditions . . . to determine the number of animals, including livestock and wildlife, that the land can support.” Why does federal government allow privately-owned “livestock” on public land in the first place? Also, isn’t the BLM’s use of tax dollars to round up wild horses on behalf of cattle ranchers really just a meat subsidy covered in horse blood?

Cattle graze on public land (photo: thewildlifenews.com)

Cattle graze on public land (photo: thewildlifenews.com)

On it’s website, the BLM also states that it “gathers excess wild horses and burros from areas where vegetation and water could become scarce if too many animals use the area.” What it fails to mention, of course, is that private cattle who are brought onto the public land consume far more water and vegetation than the wild horses.

Before Ms. Birnkrant disrupted the BLM meeting in Nevada, she heard a cattle rancher tell a BLM representative that he “wants to open a horse butcher shop.” The two of them, she said, had a big laugh.

Wild horses in BLM trap (photo: equineink.com)

Wild horses in BLM trap (photo: equineink.com)

Your Turn

Please ask U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to list North American wild horses on public lands as “threatened” or “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This designation represents their best hope for the survival. We can also help the horses by going vegan. If we put the cattle ranchers out of business, then they will no longer steal public land inhabited by the wild horses.


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Activists Occupy Govt. Office & Block Entrance to Horse Holding Pen

September 23, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

In an effort to curb the U.S. government’s barbaric roundup of America’s remaining wild horses, 15 protesters occupied the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wyoming office and temporarily blocked the entrance to a nearby holding pen where the horses are held captive.

Activists block entrance to horse holding pen

Activists block entrance to horse holding pen

Over a dozen law enforcement officials followed the activists throughout the day, but they did not intervene in an apparent effort to minimize media coverage which would call additional attention to the government roundups. Police were on hand, however, in case the protesters attempted to liberate the horses from the holding pen.

Freedom to captivity (photo: Elyse Gardner)

Holding Pen (photo: Elyse Gardner)

The protesters – all women – drove up to six hours from neighboring states to participate in the acts of civil disobedience. When the activists entered the BLM offices, staff members in the lobby “scurried away,” according to Edita Birnkrant, Friends of Animals’ Campaigns Director who organized the protest. As expected, BLM representatives refused to meet with the activists, who used a megaphone to chant, “Stop the roundup. Stop the pain. BLM is to blame.”

The protest made front page news in the local paper.

The Rocket Miner newspaper

The Rocket Miner newspaper

Your Turn

Only 1,900 wild horses remain in Wyoming. During the current roundup period, BLM is capturing and removing 800 of them on behalf of powerful cattle ranchers who want the public lands to themselves for grazing. The BLM intends to continue the roundups until the herds reach an “appropriate management level.”

Please ask U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to list North American wild horses on public lands as “threatened” or “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This designation represents their best hope for the survival.


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Activists to Engage in Civil Disobedience

September 22, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

With the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) chasing and trapping horses on public lands and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refusing to intervene, activists with Friends of Animals (FOA) will, on Monday, engage in civil disobedience to disrupt, protest and raise awareness of the government’s reckless roundup of America’s wild horses. The direct action will take place at a location in Rock Springs, Wyoming being disclosed only the media.

wild horse roundup

Edita Birnkrant, Friends of Animals

During the most recent roundup in Wyoming, the BLM kidnapped 179 horses, tearing apart families and killing three horses in the process. The government is clearing the land of horses on behalf of cattle ranchers, who covet the public land for grazing.

In addition to engaging in civil disobedience, FOA plans to sue the government for its failure to list the quickly vanishing horses as “threatened” or “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a designation that represents the best hope for their survival. Wild horses have already been exterminated in six states.


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How Our Taste for Meat is Killing America’s Last Wild Horses

September 17, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

Our insatiable appetite for meat is killing America’s remaining wild horses, but passionate advocacy groups from around the country are moving mountains to protect those who remain.

For decades, the U.S. government’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been rounding up America’s horses because they graze on public land coveted by powerful cattle ranchers. The BLM uses “rangeland health” to justify the roundups, but the 30,000 some odd horses who remain pose no threat to the land compared to the millions of cows and sheep who graze on it.

photo: Catoor Livestock image

photo: Catoor Livestock image

During a typical roundup, the BLM uses low flying helicopters to chase the terrified horses into traps. According to Edita Birnkrant, the Campaigns Director for Friends of Animals, “Families are torn apart during the roundups, separating foals from their mothers, and the captured horses are imprisoned in squalid holding facilities where their fates are unknown.

“Today, over 47,000 horses are being held captive, and the BLM is poised to use tax dollars to kidnap the remaining 30,000 on behalf of the meat industry. According to FOA, six states have already lost their wild horse populations.

Freedom to captivity (photo: Elyse Gardner)

From freedom to captivity (photo: Elyse Gardner)

In an effort to protect the remaining horses, Friends of Animals and the Cloud Foundation have petitioned the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to list them as “threatened” or “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the organizations are prepared to pursue legal options if the USFWS does not comply.

Your Turn

America was built on the backs of horses. They are a national treasure, and we must do everything in our power to protect the few who remain. Please take action today.


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Five Activists Arrested for Allegedly Blocking Roundup of Wild Horses

February 25, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

According to the Calgary Herald, five activists documenting the roundup of wild horses in western Canada were arrested and charged with mischief for allegedly interfering with the operation. The activists, two of whom are elderly, are accused of preventing the horses from entering the capture pen. But they deny the accusation: “Nobody was tampering with the site. But they told us that us being in that vicinity would prevent horses from going into his trap.” Canada has issued licenses to capture 200 of the approximately 1,000 wild horses for personal use or slaughter. The government says it wants to “reduce the population to reduce their impact on the food supply for other animals.”

Wild horse roundup in Canada

Wild horse roundup in Canada

News & Opinion

When wild animals inhabit land that we want for ourselves, we often label them as pests, round them up and exterminate them. Even animals who are endangered are at risk. In Southeast Asia, for example, orangutans are being killed as their rain forests are “slashed and burned” to clear the land for palm oil plantations. To find out how you can help protect wildlife, please visit Defenders of Wildlife.


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