Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shepherd-ing The Future

They brought him in from Wyoming, where he oversaw BLM’s second largest wild horse operation in the West. He is the “lead” contraceptive guy, the “lead” guy in new census studies on the Adobe Town/Salt Wells Horses, and now has been brought in as the “Lead” Wild Horse & Burro manager for Nevada.

He was on the Team Conference Calls between July and September of 2008, after BLM announced they might euthanize tens of thousands of horses as he and others plotted “what to do”, which was finalized in the Draft Alternative Management Options Report (October 2008), so graphicly summarized by this recent Animal Law Coalition article by Laura Allen in, “BLMs Final Solution for the Wild Horses & Burros” and Equine Welfare Alliance's, “BLM Slaughter Conspiracy” by Valerie James Patton and John Holland.

Now he is outlining the future of our mustangs and burros with strategies supporting the Salazoos and feedlots masquerading as “preserves”, the long-awaited “private sanctuaries” where wild horses are turned into livestock - complete with interpretive centers describing how they use to be “wild” - with the added bonus of the public losing their rights to be involved in their management, preservation or protection (try filing a Freedom of Information Act request on a private company).

Finally, BLM will no longer have to answer to anybody about “where” the horses and burros are going any more....

He is Alan Shepherd and this could be the finest hour of his BLM career.

As Wild Horse & Burro Lead of Nevada, he now gets to rub elbows with “who’s who” in the state that holds the largest free-roaming herds still left on public lands.

He is BLMs lead guy to be called in by Nevada Senator Harry Reid if feedback is necessary on the wild horse and burro situation, who coincidentally, as Senate Majority Leader holds the keys to R.O.A.M and Congressional Hearings on their bungled management.

He is in line to discuss the wild horse and burro issues with former Nevada BLM Director Robert Abbey and now National BLM Director, who set in motion many of the wild horse and burro plans we are seeing come to fruition today.

He can hold private conversations with the folks at the Wild Horse & Burro Program's National Office sitting across the hall, which include ex-Nevada State Wild Horse & Burro Lead, Susie “Sunshine” Stokke, now in charge of writing BLMs Handbook on Wild Horse & Burro Management throughout the West.

Or he can get feedback from guys like Elko County Commissioner and rancher Demar Dahl, who submitted statements in 1998 to a Congressional Subcommittee Hearing about what to do with the wild horse problem who also had the gonads to turn around and tell a room full of advocates last month at the National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board Meeting what a great guy he is, how much he loves wild horses and everything he’s done for them.

Based on Mr. Dahl’s comments last month, apparently he has changed his opinion since the last time he was called in to support “the team”, as back in 1998, this is some of what he had to say;

We need I think to recognize that the horse is a resource. All of us love Bambi and all of us love deer, we all recognize that a deer herd has to be managed and we manage them and we control their numbers. And how do we do it? We eat them. The horse is a resource, there are horses that are good for companionship, good for pleasure riding, good for working cattle, good for jumping. There are some horses that I can tell you, and I have known horses all my life and I love good horses, but there are a lot of horses that are just to be eaten and that is their best use. And there are plenty of people and plenty of pets in this world that are willing to utilize that resource. And I think that common sense should dictate that we give the BLM sale authority and allow that to happen.”

Mr. Dahl also threw in the suggestion of, “I think that if we were to remove all of the wild horses from the ranges but establish horse reserves where people, as John Carpenter talked about, could come and visit and see the horses, but keep all of the horses off of the other areas, I think that would be a step in the right direction.”

But for now, it looks like Alan has set his sites for rubbing elbows with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar by drawing up a pretty, bullet point paper about the “future” of our mustangs and burros titled, “Nevada Wild Horse & Burro Strategy Update – NV Tri-RAC” that seems intent on totaling supporting and doing whatever it takes to move Secretary Salazar's plans forward.

As I read what Mr. Shepherd was outlining, I wanted to ask him how he knows the current population in Nevada is 21,000 wild horses and burros or that 31 HMAs are above AML (165%), when part of the outlined strategy is to “increase accuracy of populations”.

Or why BLM believes they need to reduce reproduction rates when they are having trouble figuring out how many horses are really on the range to begin with.

But since Alan arrived in Nevada, he hasn’t responded to a single question I've posed or email sent. As a result, I’d also like to ask Mr. Shepherd what “develop a public participation and outreach strategy” means, but since he doesn’t respond to my current efforts of “public participation”, it doesn’t look like the chances are very high I’ll get an answer on this question either. Maybe this is a precursor to BLMs new vision for public involvement...

According to Alan’s Plan, “Discussions are ongoing with KEY Congressman and Committees”. Apparently, the rest of Congress hasn’t been invited to the elbow rubbing sessions or else fail to hold the “keys” to the solutions BLM is looking for.

I also thought the comment made by Eileen O’Conner with respect to the "BLMs Final Solution" article referenced above was very revealing too, about how Congress was now identified as a “stakeholder” in public resource management, as the definition of a stakeholder is usually reserved for private interests, not public.

Alan outlines how BLM is busy drafting a new Wild Horse & Burro Management Plan that must be submitted to Congress by September 30, 2010. Its primary focus is on what to do with all the wild horses and burros BLM has captured while simultaneously focusing on the need to improve all their deficiencies in monitoring, census methods, and lack of personnel that caused them to be removed in the first place. But nobody trying to ram these new proposals through wants to bring these issues to the table, do they?

Mr. Shepherd ends his strategic outline with a painted pony running free on the range and titles it, “Questions?”

Yeah, I have a lot of questions.
When are you guys going to start really answering them?

1 comment:

robotsoul said...

I just don't know that is is a productive use of tax payer money especially after seeing this:

as this post points out, the whole, endeavor smacks of private interests.