January 3, 2011 in City, Region

BLM director urged to shun horse summit

Martin Griffith Associated Press
 

RENO, Nev. – Wild horse activists are criticizing U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey’s plans to attend a Las Vegas conference held by groups that support slaughter of the animals for human consumption.

Advocates think it’s inappropriate for Abbey on Tuesday to address groups that seek to profit from horse slaughter, said Ginger Kathrens, director of the horse advocacy group Cloud Foundation, based in Colorado.

United Horsemen, a Wyoming-based nonprofit pushing for a plant in that state where horses could be slaughtered for human consumption, is organizing the summit to be held today through Thursday.

“The BLM’s significant participation in this slaughter summit is truly troubling,” Kathrens said. “The BLM needs to change course and begin listening to the American people who are calling for the protection and preservation of our wild herds, not to those who would profit from their flesh.”

BLM spokeswoman Celia Boddington in Washington, D.C., said Abbey has an obligation to talk to all sides of the issue because of the agency’s multiple use mandate for public lands. She noted he has talked many times to horse advocates.

“Since he has become BLM director, Bob has emphasized outreach to all different groups on this issue,” she told the Associated Press on Sunday. “It’s simply inappropriate for one side to say whom the BLM should be talking to.”

Sue Wallis, of United Horsemen, a Wyoming state lawmaker and rancher, said the purpose of the summit is to find solutions to deal with excess numbers of horses on federal, state, tribal and private lands.

In 2008, the BLM said it was considering euthanasia as a way to control herd sizes and stem escalating costs of keeping animals. But a public outcry prompted the agency to drop the proposal.

Boddington said Abbey and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar remain firmly opposed to euthanasia.

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