Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board members named; meeting set for Oct. 29-31

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Photo of Annabelle taken at RTF’s San Luis Obispo satellite sanctuary by Paloma Ianes.

The Bureau of Land Management on Thursday named two new National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board members and the re-appointment of a third in advance of its Oct. 29-31 meeting in Washington, D.C.

Susan McAlpine of Kingman, Ariz., has been appointed to represent humane advocacy, replacing Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation, while Vernon Bleich of Bismarck, N.D., has been appointed to represent wildlife management, replacing filmmaker Ben Masters.

Rancher Steven Yardley has been re-appointed to the livestock management seat for a second three-year term, according to a BLM press release.

The nine-member, all-volunteer advisory board typically meets twice per year. It provides recommendations to the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service on the management of wild horses and burros from the perspective of different interest groups. The board does not control BLM or USFS policy.

The Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of Agriculture select board members based on education, training or experience that would enable them to represent a particular interest group.

At its July meeting in Boise, Idaho, the board for the first time in three years did not recommend either euthanizing captive wild horses and burros or selling them without restriction (to slaughter). The board voted to make such recommendations in 2016-18. At that time, only Kathrens and later, Kathrens and Return to Freedom biologist Celeste Carlisle, who joined the board in 2018, voted against using lethal tools to reduce wild horse populations.

Read the board’s July recommendations here.

About the appointees

–McAlpine has raised, trained and advocated for horses for most of her adult life, according to a BLM press release, and has served on the Mohave County Horse Science committee, planned educational equestrian programs and volunteered for the Arizona Dressage Association. She holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Framingham State College and master’s degree in instructional design from the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She serves as a Trustee on the Mohave Community College Board of Governors.

— Bleich is a research professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, where his work includes advising graduate students working on the ecology of large mammals in arid ecosystems of the West. He has more than 40 years of experience studying Western wildlife populations, including serving for 35 at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife where he was involved in conservation efforts in the Great Basin, Mojave and Sonoran deserts.

— Yardley, the vice president of Yardley Cattle Company, is a public land rancher and private landowner who holds grazing permits from the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. A graduate of Southern Utah University, he also serves as vice president of the Western Rangelands Conservation Association.

Other members of the board are Carlisle (wild horse and burro advocacy), Fred Woehl, Jr. (public interest), James French (natural resource management), Tom Lenz (veterinary medicine), Sue McDonnell (wild horse and burro research) and Barry Perryman (public interest).

Meeting information

The advisory board is set to meet Oct. 29-31 at the Phoenix Park Hotel and 20 F Street NW Conference Center in Washington, D.C. The meeting will be live-streamed at http://www.blm.gov/live from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 30-31.

The advisory board will make a site visit to a BLM wild horse and burro adoption and sale event in Lorton, Va., on Nov. 1.

Public comment

A public comment period will be held during the Oct. 31 session.

Written comments pertaining to the meeting and written statements that will be presented to the Advisory Board may be filed in advance of the meeting and sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior, BLM, Attention: Advisory Board (WO-260), 20 M Street SE (Room 2134 LM), Washington, DC 20003 or emailed to: whbadvisoryboard@blm.gov. Please include “Advisory Board Comment” in the subject line of the email.

Those interested in making comments during the meeting’s open comment period should sign in two hours prior to the comment period at the meeting location.