The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Duty to Protect, July 14, 2010

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on July 16, 2010

The following editorial has been posted to the AOWHA Wild Horse War Room
( ) along with some links to legal documents.

Editorial Opinion: Duty to Protect
Willis Lamm
July 14, 2010

The following is the opening sentence in the Wild Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act that outlines the intention of the Act.

(16 U.S.C. 1331)

Sec. 1

To require the protection, management, and control of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands.

Three requirements are stated here: protection, management and control. None are exclusive of the others. All three are required.

While there is plenty of room for debate over the meaning of “management” and “control,” particularly given the various conditions that apply to the management and control of wild free-roaming horses, “protection” is pretty a clear cut term.

After nearly three decades in fire / EMS, I pretty well understand the meaning and application of “protection.”

Protection involves three elements: prevention, mitigation and response.

Prevention involves understanding and evaluating risk factors and preventing them from adversely impacting the protection of whatever or whomever is being protected.

Mitigation involves taking steps to ensure that risk factors that cannot be reasonably prevented are not allowed to compromise the protection of whatever or whomever is being protected.

Response is what is necessary when a situation arises in spite of prevention and mitigation efforts and immediate intervention is warranted.

BLM has clearly developed formulas for the management and control of wild horses, however the agency is horribly lacking in its ability to carry out its third required duty, the one Congress listed first, the requirement of protecting the horses.

Taking the Act at face value, BLM is not empowered to manage and control horses at the expense of protection. Conversely BLM is obligated to manage and control horses in ways that facilitate their protection. The requirement of protection extends to roundups, field preparation, transportation, facility operations, after capture care and placement. The Act does not contain any language where these activities can supersede the requirement of protection.

Furthermore the Act does not contain language that allows BLM to abdicate protection because the agency hasn’t gotten around to prevention or mitigation, or simply because people don’t know what is going on out on the public lands or what they are doing.

Protection is the first requirement stated in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Apparently it is the first requirement that BLM has forgotten about.


Note: This commentary reflects the views of the writer who is solely responsible for its content.


11 Responses to “Duty to Protect, July 14, 2010”

  1. Linda said

    Simply by the order of the requirements under law – protection(primary), management(secondary), and control(tertiary) – the BLM’s responsibility should be clear.

    I’ve done a bit of technical writing and have impressed upon my clients that order matters. You can’t just throw words out there without considering your priorities and how your readers will perceive those priorities.

    When Thomas Jefferson wrote “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, he stated those “inalienable rights” in a specific and logical order. The second and third mean nothing without the first.

  2. Donna Buscemi said

    So, do we know if the author of the editorial shared his views with Interior, BLM, Congress? I doubt that they check in on the web sites that we do. While we may not think it will make a difference, I hope he shared it with someone other than horse advocates.

  3. Jan said

    has anyone lately at blm even read the law – sure dont think so as they do not seem to abide by any of it

    • sandra longley said

      Ah yes, The Law, is however and whatever, BLM interprets it to be-ie; mulitiple use has become a weapon rather than a “sharing equally” of resources.

  4. sandra longley said

    It is apparent to me-that the BLM only feels it must protect the horses from the general public and not from their own action or inactions..they have aquired this sense of entitlement when it comes to land and the horses..and asking for our input and then ignoring it constitutes a satisfaction of their duties…

  5. sandra longley said

    I came into this 6 months ago, with no preconceived notions about the BLM..I very quickly was relieve of my willingness to take at face value what was being said and done..not by the blogs but by what I read in their own documents and saw with my own eyes..and it went beyond the horses to the mismanagement of our resources, the squandering of our water which is of the highest priority, and the complete and total arrogance of this department, the idea that not only do they NOT fufill their duties, but squander our natural resourses, and then disrespect us with lies and manipulations..we who own the land, the resources, the wild horses…and pay their salaries.



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