Sheryl Crow Joins in Wild Horse Fight

George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter, KLAS TV, Las Vegas

Singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow is not a celebrity-come-lately to the wild horse debate. She owns horses, including an adopted wild mustang, and has campaigned for the protection of the herds for years.

Crow has lent her support to the Cloud Foundation, a Colorado-based organization dedicated to preserving wild horses on the range and to finding homes for those already in captivity.

In a backstage interview, Crow summed up the urgency of the moment, “33,000 horses are being held right now by the BLM and due to budgetary problems, they’re saying now they can’t afford to feed them, which is kind of a great excuse to exterminate them.”

Just weeks ago, wild horse advocates had reason for hope. They held a summit in Las Vegas at which the BLM offered to work with the groups on mutually acceptable solutions to the huge population of horses now being held in government pens. But this week, a report from the GAO provided new impetus for mass euthanizations of captured horses, as well as the sale of the herds to foreign slaughterhouses.

GAO says the BLM simply can’t afford to keep feeding so many horses.

Like other wild horse advocates, Crow isn’t buying it, “Like a lot of big organizations that are steeped in red tape, the Bureau of Land Management has taken the path of least resistance — whatever is quick and can be brushed under the rug, and that’s to exterminate.”

Critics of the BLM program say the elimination of the horses from public ranges has been systematic. 40-percent of the horses in the wild have been rounded up in the last seven years. More than 100 regions set aside specifically as horse habitat have been zeroed out, all of the horses are now gone from those areas, often replaced by cattle or sheep.

And while BLM complains it can’t afford to feed the horses it has, it still keeps rounding up more.

“They’ve been told get the horses off there, just remove them. End of story,” said wild horse advocate Jerry Reynoldson.

“Its just being dictated by their agenda, which is to minimize or eliminate wild horses or burros wherever they can,” said former BLM range scientist Craig Downer.

On Monday, backed up by a GAO report which paves the way for mass euthanizations, BLM will address the Wild Horse Advisory Board and seek the ok to move forward with more drastic alternatives.

Horse groups are hoping that Sheryl Crow’s high profile will help them to mobilize the broader public into letting Washington know euthanization or slaughter are not acceptable options.

“We as humans, how much land do we need to possess? This land is designated as land but is rented out to ranchers and the administration makes a lot of money off of that, but what winds up happening. The animals that belong there end up being removed for convenience purposes,” said Crow. “These animals need to be protected and they can be protected. It’s just a matter of what the administration deems important. So many horses have already been exterminated. This is our biggest opportunity to save those that are in danger.”

On Monday in Reno, wild horse groups say they will present a united front to the advisory board and will ask that before any horses are put to death, the BLM should explain why it eliminated the herds from 19 million acres instead of just leaving them out there.

Sheryl Crow and the other horse advocates are urging people who care about the issue to make their voices heard, before that meeting.

Article: KLAS-TV: I-Team: Sheryl Crow Joins in Wild Horse Fight

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