JUNE 23, 2010
DENVER - Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles this week told the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board that federal proposals to change how wild horses and burros are managed must have a goal of ensuring a thriving ecological balance between horses and burros and wildlife, and include the involvement of state wildlife agencies.
Speaking on behalf of the Arizona Game and Fish Department in collaboration with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) at the board’s public meeting in Denver, Voyles stated that the proposals should ensure the existence of horses and burros as intended in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, but cannot allow them to greatly expand their presence and create disastrous impacts on habitat and native wildlife across the West.
“The Wild Horse and Burro Act was initiated when horses and burros were in danger of disappearing from the western landscape. The Act and the Bureau of Land Management have essentially done their jobs to ensure this doesn’t happen, as wild horse and burro populations have grown substantially and are not in any danger of being eliminated,” said Voyles.
Voyles agreed that the current implementation approach to horse and burro management isn’t sustainable and that changes are needed, but he said he would expect any new federal initiative to fix the program, not grow it; and he expressed support for Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s efforts to build solutions within the existing body of law and regulation.
Voyles stressed the importance of managing horse and burro herds, pointing out that under the current protections provided by the Act, horse and burro populations have proven to be very prolific, and only very active management prevents over-population in many areas.
The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the Wild and Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act.
The advisory board conducted the June 14-15 Denver workshop and meeting to provide the public with an opportunity to express their views and comments regarding Secretary Salazar’s Wild Horse and Burro Initiative, which he and BLM Director Bob Abbey announced last October.
The public has the opportunity to provide comment on the strategy development document implementing the Wild Horse and Burro Initiative. To access the document and provide the BLM with comment, visit www.blm.gov and click on the link titled “BLM Director Seeks Input for New Direction in National Wild Horse and Burro Program.” Comments must be submitted by Aug. 3, 2010.
For more information on wild horse and burro management as it relates to wildlife conservation, visit www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd /WildHorseBurro.shtml