By Steven Long
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – Federal Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Division Chief Joan Guilfoyle faced a crowded room in Oklahoma City Monday. It was filled with a largely polite but angry crowd of wild horse advocates who had come to see the occasional meeting of BLM’s advisory board. They were not disappointed as Guilfoyle stood before them and with a straight face told the group she was going to set the record straight regarding remarks she had heard earlier during the public’s brief statement period.
The proceedings were carried live on an Internet feed. The board meeting will again be carried live today.
Three organizations, hosted a noon press conference which played to a packed house.
The Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board is largely window dressing, holding infrequent meetings to rubber stamp the bureaucratic actions of the BLM. Members of the public gave the largely powerless and ceremonial board a piece of their minds as they called the chiefs heads on the carpet for being a large government agency gone rogue.
As BLM has been increasingly caught selling wild horses to killer buyers, Guilfoyle looked at the assemblage with a straight face and said, slaughter “is not our policy and it never will be.”
The wild horse population has been decimated by wholesale removal from Herd Management Areas and replaced by millions of head of cattle. Yet the director did not condemn the removal of the animals that many Americans view as a national treasure.
“It’s not reasonable that any animal have dominant use of any land,” she said, despite millions of head of beef cattle replacing wild horses at a breakneck rate.
Guilfoyle addressed the investigation of alleged killer buyer Tom Davis and the 1,700 missing horses that were sold to him, punting to the agency’s office Office of the Inspector General. “If you have questions, call the OIG, we’re out of it.”
Despite the frequent use of the word feral to describe BLM horses, Guilfoyle denied that any horses are called by that name.
Captured BLM horses are held at taxpayer expense in vast pastures leased for millions from favored landowners. Guilfoyle criticized the practice.
“I don’t think long term holding is good either, although they have rich grass.”
At the close of her remarks, the Guilfoyle addressed the frequent BLM helicopter stampedes where animals are often injured and young foals are run for miles attempting to keep up with their frightened mothers. Many die.
“Wild Horse Annie agreed that helicopters were the best way to gather,” she said. “Those animals were brought in calmly.”
The final remark was too much to bear for members of the audience who could contain themselves no longer. Guilfoyle closed her brief remarks amid shouts from the audience.