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AJR-26 Wild and free-roaming horses and burros: protection: roundup moratorium.(2019-2020)



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AJR26:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Joint Resolution
No. 26


Introduced by Assembly Member Luz Rivas
(Principal coauthor: Assembly Member Waldron)

February 04, 2020


Relative to wild and free-roaming horses and burros.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AJR 26, as introduced, Luz Rivas. Wild and free-roaming horses and burros: protection: roundup moratorium.
This measure would urge the federal government to immediately declare a moratorium on all further wild horse and burro roundups and would urge the United States Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service to restore the wild horses and burros of California to their legal areas throughout the state.
Fiscal Committee: NO  

WHEREAS, From the 1600s to the early 1900s, the State of California was once an ideal habitat for hundreds of thousands of wild horses and burros, with a robust ecosystem bearing rich and moisture-retaining soils, and a great abundance and variety of germinating seeds as a result of the foraging of those herds, whose remains returned to the balanced ecosystem, fulfilling an important ecological niche; and
WHEREAS, Both the horse and the burro have their evolutionary origins and longstanding development in North America, tracing back at least 58,000,000 years, and quickly revert to fulfill a harmonious natural role within many of the western ecosystems, adapting and positively contributing thereto as returned native species; and
WHEREAS, The State of California, host to an ever-increasing number of catastrophic wildfires due to the effects of climate change, benefits greatly from the mitigation and even prevention of those fires when wild horses and burros are present to reduce dry flammable vegetation or tinder; and
WHEREAS, On December 18, 1971, through the foresight and advocacy of Velma Bronn Johnston, known as “Wild Horse Annie,” the United States Congress unanimously passed and chaptered the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which declared that “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene,” and “that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”; and
WHEREAS, Nonetheless, after four decades under the management of the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS), our nation’s wild horses and burros now find themselves at alarmingly low population numbers, with disrupted social structures, and cheated of their rightful legal areas and forage allocations on BLM and USFS lands; and
WHEREAS, In 1979, nearly 600 burros were dramatically rescued from the deep ravines of the Grand Canyon by helicopter lift, thereby escaping imminent roundup and extermination by the BLM, through the resources and efforts of Cleveland Amory, founder of The Fund for Animals, which later merged with the Humane Society of the United States. The placement of those burros was the impetus for the creation of Amory’s renowned Black Beauty Ranch; and
WHEREAS, The two agencies charged with preserving, protecting, and managing our nation’s wild horses and burros throughout the West have subverted the true intent of the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 that represents the overall will and desire of the general public of the United States; and
WHEREAS, Present plans of the BLM and USFS only continue to excessively reduce the wild horse and burro herds to illegally low, genetically nonviable levels, allowing other interests, particularly livestock, to consume the greater quantities of forage and water, thus abrogating their responsibility to ensure that the resources of the legal wild horse and burro herd areas and territories are “principally devoted” to these national heritage species as fully accords with the true meaning and intent of the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971; and
WHEREAS, There exists intelligent means through the conscientious employment of the sound principles of reserve design, whereby the wild horses and burros can achieve long-term genetically viable populations, or herds, that are allowed to harmoniously adapt to the particular ecosystems they inhabit and self-stabilize through the establishment of mature social units and the incorporation of natural and, where necessary, artificial barriers, but always with a mind to preserving complete and sustainable habitats for these equid herds; and
WHEREAS, Millions of people greatly benefit from the uplifting vitality, elegance, and beauty of these animals when they are living at liberty in nature according to their age-old habit; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly and the Senate of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature urges the federal government to immediately declare a moratorium on all further wild horse and burro roundups; and be it further
Resolved, That the Legislature urges the United States Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service to restore the wild horses and burros of California to their legal areas throughout the state; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this resolution to the President and Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States, to the Deputy Director of Policy and Programs and the California Acting State Director of the United States Bureau of Land Management, to the Chief and Associate Chief of the United States Forest Service, and to the author for appropriate distribution.