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Department of the Interior, Enivonment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Chairman, this is one of those issues where our opponents are trying to use emotion to overwhelm good policy. As is usually the case in such debates, the results are exactly the opposite of what is being advocated.

So it is with the proposal to revoke the Secretary of Interior's authority to sell excess wild horses and burros. Ironically, rather than saving wild horses, the amendment will have the perverse effect of ensuring their numbers will stay at unsustainable levels, adoption efforts will be hampered, and thousands of old unadoptable horses will stay stuck in limbo in long-term holding facilities, or as the gentleman from Kentucky suggested, euthanized. Oh, that makes a lot of sense.

But this is what you get. This is what you get with this kind of policy, horses that are starving to death on the range. The BLM has conducted an analysis of their wild horse and burro program and determined that if they had not removed many of the wild horses from the range, prolonged drought, reduced forage production, and poor health would have resulted in large losses during the winter of 2005.

In Cedar City, Utah, for example, over 100 horses had to be removed from the range to prevent their suffering and potential starvation.

It is ironic that the authority that was used to save nearly 2,000 horses this past year is the very authority the sponsors of this amendment are trying to repeal.

If this amendment prevails, the only method to remove these horses will be adoption, which historically has failed to keep up with the explosion of the population. Inadequacy of the adoption program has resulted in many of these horses being sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in long-term facilities unsuitable for wild horses. I urge my colleagues to oppose this amendment.

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Mr. Chairman, this is one of those issues where our opponents are trying to use emotion to overwhelm good policy. As is usually the case in such debates, the results are exactly the opposite of what is being advocated.

So it is with the proposal to revoke the Secretary of the Interior's authority to sell excess wild horses and burros. Ironically, rather than saving wild horses, the amendment will have the perverse effect of ensuring that their numbers will stay at unsustainable levels, adoption efforts will be hampered, and thousands of old, unadoptable horses will stay stuck in limbo in long-term holding facilities. Horses on the range will, most likely, starve to death.

BLM has conducted an analysis of their wild horse and burro program and determined that if they had not removed many of the wild horses from the range, prolonged drought, reduced forage production and poor health would have resulted in large losses during the winter of 2005. In Cedar city, Utah, for example, over 100 horses had to be removed from the range to prevent their suffering and potential starvation. It is ironic that the authority that was used to save nearly 2000 horses this past year is the very authority the sponsors of this amendment are trying to repeal.

If this amendment prevails, the only method to remove these horses will be adoption, which historically has failed to keep up with the explosion of the population. Inadequacy of the adoption program has resulted in many of these horses being sentenced to spend the rest of their life in long term unsuitable for wild holding facilities.

Because of the overwhelming cost of these facilities at the expense of the federal government, the number of horses on the range is still well above the appropriate management levels called for in law. furthermore, one-half of the entire wild horse and burro operating budget is used to take care of "unadoptable" horses held in these facilities. This amendment would only cause those costs to skyrocket at the expense of the adoption program.

Last year, Congress enacted a law that allowed BLM to sell unadoptable horses that are over 10 years old or have been offered unsuccessfully for adoption three times, until the appropriate management level is reached. These proceeds are then used by BLM to help promote and finance their adoption program.

Currently there are 8400 horses in these long term facilities that need to be moved on through the program in order to prevent malnutrition and starvation that is associated with the overpopulation of the range land herds. By denying the funds to implement the sale program for wild horses and burros, this irresponsible amendment would eliminate a far more efficient tool in the management of the program. By not allowing BLM to keep the herd in manageable numbers, this amendment endangers the welfare of the wild horses by exacerbating the deplorable conditions these animals must try to survive in where their only escape is death by starvation.

Vote for the welfare of the wild horses. Vote "no" on the Rahall-Whitfield Amendment.

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