By LAURA LEIGH of Wild Horse Education
To The Desert Independent
March 2, 2017
WASHINGTON DC – The U.S. Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to head the Interior Department as the White House seeks to increase fossil fuel production on federal lands. Ryan Zinke, a U.S. Representative from coal-producing Montana, won confirmation by a vote of 68 to 31, with several Democrats joining Republicans, who lead the chamber.
On February 6, 170 environmental organizations sent a joint letter to reject this nomination. The letter, spearheaded by the Center for Biological Diversity read: “In the two short years he has been in Congress, Rep. Zinke has earned a three percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters, reflecting a consistent voting record against protecting America’s public lands, waters and endangered species 97 percent of the time. Rep. Zinke has prioritized the narrow, short-term interests of corporate and extractive industries, championing dirty fossil fuel development on public lands while supporting significantly reduced environmental review of and public involvement in decisions about this development. Based on this record, we ask that you oppose his nomination.”
For wild horses the appointment of Zinke is ominous. In 2009 he carried a bill in the Montana Senate to reopen horse slaughter plants. Zinc has repeatedly stated his opinion that horses are simply livestock.
“Wild horses on public land are essentially a protected heritage species; a resource on, and not a use of, our public land.” state Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education, “I hope that Zinke will be able to distinguish between his personal opinion and the laws that protect our wild ones. My fear is that he will cater to the profit driven interests that have always resented federal protection of wild horses and want “mustanging” back. Slaughtering our wild horses for profit driven enterprise will not be tolerated by the vast majority of Americans.”
Mustanging was the practice of removing wild horses from the range and shipping them off to be ground up for chicken feed, fertilizer and dog food. In 1971 Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act granting the federal government jurisdiction to stop the practice and manage wild horses on our public land.
“The Act has been resented since it was passed,” Leigh continued, “The livestock industry has resented federal control of any resource and has made moves to slaughter our wild horses every opportunity they get. Pressure from these same entities has interfered with federal management and is in part responsible for the mess the program is in. This accelerates year after year as federal managers caved to the pressure.”
The largest fertility control program in the nation, Fish Creek in Nevada, is still on hold due to pressure, litigation and interference from counties and the livestock industry.