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Senator Snowe responds

Published: 10/24/2009
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What I thought was just another letter asking for money was, in fact, a letter from Senator Olympia Snowe.
I emailed her about the roundup of Pryor Mountain mustangs (featured on the public television documentary and thoroughly covered by the Cloud Foundation) and others this fall.

Her letter is just one indication of the thick, bureaucratic stew these animals have fallen into:
Massive stockades.
Dubious "horse maintenance" practices.
Yet again, animals get to be victims of human snafus.

It's real easy to be angry.
It's hard to know how to reach a solution.

Here is her letter:

Dear Maddy:
Thank you for contacting me regarding protecting wild horses. I appreciate having your thoughts on this issue.
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 sought to protect wild horses and burros on federal lands and placed them under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. For years, the management of wild horses and burros has been controversial, with particular concern that adopted horses have been slaughtered.
The BLM is undertaking a major, five-year initiative to cut the number of wild horses and burros nearly in half, on the grounds that overpopulation is threatening the health of the animals and the environment.
In addition to private adoptions, BLM is reducing animals on the range through fertility control and holding in long-term facilities. Currently, there are approximately 33,000 wild horses in corral and pasture holding facilities.
I noted your concern regarding the potential slaughter of wild horses by the BLM. You may be interested to know that on November 17, 2008, the Deputy Director of BLM, Henri Bisson, announced that the wild horse and burro program will be maintained for another year to allow for stakeholders, including Congress and animal advocates, to discuss potential solutions.
The BLM will reduce the number of horses they place in long-term facilities and redistribute funds within the agency to address the escalating holding costs.
Further, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will seek to reduce the population growth among the wild horses and increase private adoptions.
Please be assured that I will continue to monitor this situation, keeping your views in mind.
You also expressed support for S. 1579, the Restore Our American Mustangs Act, which was introduced by Senator Robert Byrd on August 5, 2009. This legislation would provide BLM with additional authority necessary to maintain wild horses and burros living on federal land in a thriving ecological balance while prohibiting the sale for slaughter of wild horses and burros. It would also enhance adoption efforts and encourage modern contraceptive methods to limit reproduction, among other equine management methods.
Furthermore, S. 1579 would give BLM the authority to begin restoring wild horse and burrow ranges to the 53 million acres they roamed as recently as 1971. Following introduction, the Restore Our American Mustangs Act was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for review and consideration.
Should this legislation come under the consideration of the full Senate, you may be assumed that I will keep your thoughts and concerns in mind.
Further, you may also be interested to know of some of my efforts to protect wild horses. For instance, I was an original cosponsor of S.311, the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which was introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu on January 17, 2007.
This legislation would prohibit the interstate transport of any horse flesh or horse, other than a downed horse, for the purpose of slaughter for human consumption. Inspectors would be allowed to confiscate any horses or horse flesh found in interstate transport, and the violators would be subject to fines and penalties. It also authorizes the use of grants to support rescue facilities that agree to accept these horses.
Regrettably, S.311 was not considered by the full Senate prior to the adjournment of the 110th Congress. However, should this legislation be introduced in the 111th Congress, please be assured of my continued support.
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views. I value your opinion and hope that you continue to inform me of the issues that concern you.

Olympia J. Snowe
United States Senator

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