Salazar Seeks Congressional Support for Sustainable National Program to Manage Iconic Wild Horses
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today proposed a national solution to restore the health of America's wild horse herds and the rangelands that support them by creating a cost-efficient, sustainable management program that includes the possible creation of wild horse preserves on the productive grasslands of the Midwest and East. The following are remarks from a teleconference the Secretary had with the press Wednesday afternoon.
Topic: Secretary Salazar says the current situation is unsustainable and is costing taxpayer dollars.
In fiscal year 2007 we were spending $53 million and we are now at a budget request of $69 million to take care of these wild horses and burros. Additionally, the arid Western lands and watersheds, in my view, simply cannot support a population that is this large without significant damage to the environment.
Topic: The plan would include moving wild horses to preserves in the Midwest and East.
Establish a set of wild horse preserves across the nation, we would look in particular to establish national wild horse preserves on productive lands of the Midwest and the East where there is more water and more forage than there is in the arid lands of many places like Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and other places across the West. We believe that the national preserves would provide excellent opportunities to celebrate the historic significance of wild horse, showcase these animals to the American public and serve as amenities that would drive local tourism and economic activity that would create jobs in those rural areas.
Topic:The Secretary would bring more attention to Western herds by "showcasing" them through special designations.
I believe we need to better showcase the herds on the public lands where they already are in the West and places where we believe those places and those herds can receive special recognition. For that reason I will, as we implement this proposal, highlight special herds and ranges through a Secretarial Order, under the 1970 law that gives me as Secretary the authority to provide those designations. I will make those designations in a way that will provide monuments to these wild horse special places across the West.
Topic: The proposal would apply new strategies to balance the growth rate of the herds with adoptions.
I’m proposing a new set of strategies that will insure that the herds on our Western rangelands are kept at more sustainable levels. We have to balance population growth rates with adoption demand. Together we believe that these proposals will put the nation’s wild horses and burros back on a sustainable track. Moreover, with this plan, we will be creating a lasting conservation legacy for America.
Topic: The Secretary pointed out that killing wild horses is not considered in any Interior's management plans.
The fact is that the American public has shown that it does not want essentially to have a slaughtering of these animals. It’s a public value that has been tested now multiple times through votes in the United States Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. And so what we have to do is manage these wild horses and burros in such a way that addresses the imperatives that I see in this challenge. And those imperatives are first that we protect the horses and burros, second, that we protect our public lands and third, that we protect the American taxpayer.