KBR Wild Horse and Burro News


Story date: September, 1998

To:   Bruce_Babbitt@ios.doi.gov
CC:   pshea@wo.blm.gov, msharpe@wo.blm.gov,
      Wildhorse Newsgroup 
SUBJ: WHB Advisory Board

Dear Mr. Babbitt,

There are many American citizens who have struggled against
insurmountable odds to support and defend the BLM, its policies and its
actions.  In many cases, these "odds" have included various powerful
interests.  In many others, the adversary has been the BLM itself who
seems Hell bent on a mission of self-destruction.  A glowing example of
this tendency is the first action of a dubiously selected National
Advisory Board.  Their ill timed euthanasia suggestions are bound to
start a wholesale policy war which will further decimate the BLM's
public image and probably cost a few BLM staffers their careers.

First of all, what were you folks thinking about when you selected these
people?  We all understand the costly surplus "old horse" issue and that
some tough decisions will have to be made, however the naivete shown by
these board members in advancing a euthanasia scheme during their first
session demonstrates nothing short of gross incompetence.  These people
are going to do you in.  Metaphorically, the wild horse and "whole
earth" activists are going to pile your bodies next to the carcasses of
your sanctuary horses.

Pat Shea was quoted as acknowledging that such action would be a "public
relations nightmare."  I don't think he truly understands all of the
implications here which extend far beyond "nightmare."  Many of the more
moderate wild horse enthusiasts are trying to keep at arms' distance
from the more radical groups, however all these forces will be instantly
galvanized if the BLM even seriously DISCUSSES wild horse "euthanasia"
at the present time.  The lunatic fringe are undoubtedly sensing
justification for additional criminal attacks on BLM facilities and you
surely don't need more unfortunate situations like you had at Burns.

You folks have to learn something about public relations and the fact
that many of the thousands of wild horse and burro enthusiasts smell a
"reverse engineering" job going on with respect to the WHB Advisory
Board and their immediate "fast track" sojurn down the mine-laden road
of euthanasia.

I suppose that my greatest concern is that there are alternatives to
broad scale euthanasia which the BLM has not only failed to consider,
but has intentionally avoided.  There are ways to cost-effectively
integrate healthy older horses into the adoption program and I'm not
just talking about the BOX.  While such avenues will not resolve the
entire problem, they will diminish the "surplus" wild horse populations
and demonstrate to the American People that the BLM is taking a balanced
approach to dealing with the problems associated with older feral horses
and the "frequent fliers."  The only logical reason that I can see for
the BLM not pursuing such alternatives is that they require the
formation of simple public-private partnerships and the mind set of some
(but not all) BLM personnel is that the WHB program is theirs, they are
in control and it is not to be shared with private parties.

Please understand that I'm not trying to alienate anyone at BLM by
making these comments.  I've invested a great deal of personal time and
money promoting the WHB program.  I don't want to see it ripped apart. 
I don't want to see logical advances "frozen" as the wealthier advocacy
groups drag the BLM back into court.  What I hope to do is to encourage
you to reconsider the sensitivity of these issues, remove people if
necessary who are destructive to your organization, and try something
fresh... engage the American Public in bringing about the solutions to
your problems.

Never underestimate the power of a motivated citizenry.  We have
demonstrated in numerous small scale activities that it works.  This is
what a competent Advisory Board should be addressing.  Cement the
relationship between the BLM and the Citizens who fund it.  Enlist their
direct participation.  Underscore the problems regarding the surplus
aged horses.  Allow the citizenry to participate in the solution.  You
will reduce your continuing costs, reduce the numbers of horses which
may have to be euthanized, and you will have a large block of citizens
who understand the issues and can convey the message that euthanasia is
only being selectively applied in situations which are appropriate.

James Watt was once presented by President Regan with a bronze shoe with
a bullet hole in it for his failure to account for the public perception
of his actions and those of his subordinates.  Please don't shoot
yourself in the foot over the very emotional issue of wild horses.  It's
time to reassess the direction which you are taking and orient your
organization toward more palatable solutions.


Willis Lamm

This is not a BLM operated or BLM sponsored site. It is run by private wild horse and burro enthusiasts and owners.

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