Petition link: www.change.org/p/marr-plan
1. Who is Anthony Marr?
2. Why any plan at all?
3. The MARR PLAN (vs the HAR PLAN)
1. Who is Anthony Marr?
Anthony Marr is a winning activist. In 1999 he was featured as the “Champion of the Bengal Tiger” in the 5-season TV documentary series [Champions of The Wild] aired on Discovery Channel and Animal Planet in 20 countries.
A decade later, during the prestigious [Animal Rights 2010 National Conference] in Washington DC attended by over a thousand activists, he was honored with the [Henry Spira Grassroots Activist Award] for his “outstanding contribution to animal liberation”.
Earlier the same year, the AR group Negotiation Is Over (NIO), as reported by the “radical” Animal Liberation Front (ALF), bestowed upon him the title of “Best All-Around Activist”, with the following accolade by NIO founder Camille A. Marino, a courageous and pure-hearted activist who has been severely punished for her “no compromise” approach:
“Whether protecting tiger reserves in India, risking his life in undercover investigations of the illegal trade in endangered species parts; challenging any and all forms of hunting; hosting a radio show; writing visionary books on science, philosophy, and cosmology; embarking on marathon coast-to-coast Compassion for Animals Road Expeditions covering dozens of US states (launching his seventh tour in March 2010), or mobilizing scientific research to awaken the complacent to the imminent dangers of irreversible ecological crisis, Anthony Marr is raising awareness, effectively campaigning, and blazing new trails… For anyone skeptical of what one person can do alone or in strategic alliance with others, or what can be accomplished without the large bankrolls such as what the likes of the HSUS commands (and squanders), look no further. For Marr shows what great things can blossom from intelligence, independence, courage, and unqualified commitment to the rights of nature, free from the predatory violence of Homo sapiens. The story Marr tells, and the outcome for which he fights, is not a zero-sum tragedy that pits one element of nature against another, however, but achieves a harmonization of life forces. ‘If we win,’ Marr says, ‘we will have elevated the quality of Humanity, and brought about a major quantum leap in human social evolution.'”
If you want something looking more like a resume, here is an itemization of some of his campaigns:
* has a degree in physics (1970)
* is the author of “OMNI-SCIENCE and the Human Destiny” (2003) and “Homo Sapiens SAVE YOUR EARTH” (2008)
* 1995, cleaned up N. American Chinatowns of endangered species medicines, resulting in the rapid passing of the WAPPRIITA law
* 1996, led “the highest-profile anti-trophy-hunting campaign in Canada” (Globe and Mail), resulting in a three-year Grizzly bear hunting moratorium
* 1997-1999, worked at and around the Bandhavgarh and Kanha tiger reserves of India, and lectured at dozens of urban Indian schools, while co-leading the campaign to oppose Grey whale hunting by the Washington state Makah natives, and the Harp seal hunt by Canadian Newfoundlanders.
* 1999, founded Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE) and the Global Anti-hunting Coalition (GAHC)
* 2004/2005, conducted covert operations in Shimonoseki and Taiji, Japan, against dolphin slaughter and whaling (being caught means 40 days in a Japanese prison without trial, to begin with).
* 2003-2011, completed 7 Compassion for Animals Road Expeditions (CARE tours, each covering 30-45 states over 4-7 months), and spoke at the National AR Conference every year
* 2012, co-led the anti-shark-finning campaign in the Greater Vancouver Region, resulting in the banning of the shark-fin trade in many communities.
Among others, including his climate change campaign based on his second book HOMO SAPIENS, SAVE YOUR EARTH (2008, coauthored with Dr. Peter Carter).
Anthony Marr’s life and contributions are detailed in his 4th book BEAUTIFUL LIFE published in 2016 at his age of 72, major parts of which being presented in his personal website
“Beautiful Life” is the meaning of his given name, to live up to which he has striven since Day 1 – February 25, 1944 – more or less successfully. Life to him indeed is beautiful, and dangerous. To crown it off, his surname, “Marr”, means “Horse”, based on which alone he sees his current work for the wild horses as being preordained. He vows to wage his MARR PLAN campaign until it is won.
2. Why any plan at all?
The Misfits (1961) is the last completed film of both Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, and one of the last of Montgomery Clift. It portrays a time when there was no protection for the American wild horse the Mustang whatsoever. If you had a gun, you could go hunt a Mustang. If you had a truck and a rope, you could go catch one live, then do whatever you want with him, or her, whether she had a foal at foot or not. Most ended up in the slaughterhouse.
The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WFRHBA, 1971) put a stop to the savagery and gave the mustangs and burros a measure of protection. No longer could hunters hunt mustangs, nor could meat merchants just pluck them from the wild. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was created as a branch of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and placed in charge of the public lands and the wild horses living thereupon. Its mandate was to set an upper limit for the number of wild horses allowed on public land, and protect them from hunting and capture. Notable is that while mustang hunting was a blanket ban, not so live capture, which remains permissible, though only by the BLM. The live capture was to be exercised when the estimated number of wild horses (hereafter including burros) on public land exceeded the Appropriate Management Level (AML, which basically means the maximum allowable population on a piece of land, or the carrying capacity of the land) of wild horses set by the BLM in 1971. At that time the BLM estimated wild horse population to be around 26,000, based on which the AML was then set somewhat arbitrarily at 26,600. Noteworthy in this transition is that the precursor of the BLM was the US Grazing Service (USGS), which makes obvious the cattle-over-horse priority and bias of the BLM. Still, since the WFRHBA forbids the killing of captured wild horses, the BLM turned to adoption as the way to dispense of the captives. Meanwhile, they were kept in corrals – of what would become the Wild Horse Holding Facilities.
This looked like a plan but in fact not, at least not one that could work in the long run, but then, the BLM of 1971 never looked two steps ahead, much less three, especially when their one-step-thinking worked out initially for awhile. Perhaps due to The Misfits and the new law, public interest in the Mustang was at an all time high. All captured mustangs were adopted in the first few years. But then, Mustang Fever gradually waned, and leveled off at only about 7% of captive horses getting adopted.
Then came BLM’s second bout of one-step-thinking. Due to the new no-kill policy, they built more holding facilities to keep the unadopted and the unadoptables, for life. But how many?
Malthus, Ecology 101, as well as the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) hold that most herbivorous species, in the presence of a healthy food supply, would have a reproductive rate increase of 15-20% per year, or doubling every 4 years, and the wild horse is no exception. The role of the wild horse’s natural predators, principally the wolf and the cougar, is to cut the 15-20% down to 0% for a stable and sustainable wild horse population. A schematic ecologically painting of the public land in 1971, however, included no wolves or cougars, which have been eradicated by ranchers to protect their livestock, and hunters as competition for deer and elk, which means that nature’s own control mechanism has been excised. Thus crippled, nature cannot regulate the wild horse population on its own. It does have a last resort – population regulation by starvation – which, other than the horrible tragedy of it all, would be compounded with serious if not irreversible environmental damage, when, at that point, most of the damage would be done by the truly overpopulated domestic cattle, which number some 2 million.
To prevent environmental collapse human intervention is required. The BLM’s way was removal of wild horses by helicopter roundup. The “HAR PLAN” is all for that, and will expand on it with gusto. Since this increase would be exponential if not slowed or halted, the BLM resorted to their third bout of one-step-thinking – to massively round up excess wild horses by helicopter, and to build more and more holding facilities to house more and more of them, with no end in sight.
But then of course, in sight or not, there is an end. It is called the Annual Budget. As more and more horses were rounded up, more and more holding facilities had to be built, and they aren’t cheap, to build and especially to run. By the time 2018 came around, it was estimated that to keep each captive wild horse, the cost is some $48,000 over its lifetime on average. The cost of helicopter roundups and running the existing holding facilities combined consumed over 80% of BLM’s annual budget, leaving little for the field work it is supposed to do.
I gave 2018 special though not honorable mention for a specific reason. It was the year when BLM’s kicking-the-can-down-the-road finally hit the wall. It was the year when the holding facilities were declared full, to the tune of 47,000 horses, when, to make things even more unworkable, BLM’s on-range wild horse population estimate had risen to 82,000, or 55,400 over the AML of 26,600. There was no money left in the budget to build more holding facilities, nor helicopter expenses to roundup 55,400 horses as BLM policy dictated. The suddenly pressing question, “suddenly” because BLM did not seem prepared, became “Where are the 55,400 horses to go but the slaughterhouse, even if we had the budget to round them up?”
The phrase that pops up is: “What a mess!” And Congress saw it too. In February, 2019, Congress ordered the BLM to come up with a solution to solve the unprecedented problem once and for all. BLM’s response was to advance a plan put together by the HSUS, the ASPCA Return To Freedom (HAR), and dozens of “stakeholders”, basically special interest groups including cattle ranching and resources extraction, herein called the “HAR PLAN”. This HAR PLAN is an unimaginative and incoherent conglomerate of compromises, which amounts to nothing more than an abidance to the old BLM formula and the original, i.e. low, AML of around 30,000. It requires rounding up 15,000-20,000 wild horses per year at least over the first four years, and somewhat less in the following years, until the population is reduced down to the low AML. To hold these new captives, BLM will build more holding facilities. The cost for the helicopter roundup would be around $20 million per year, and the cost of building and running more holding facilities will be about $30 million a year, totaling $50 million per year, and that is over and above the regular BLM budget of $80.6 million in 2019. Meanwhile, BLM will suppress the population even further by “aggressive” applications of neutering by whatever means necessarily.
I call this BLM’s 4th bout of one-step-thinking. The second step in this bout, were it mentally taken, would be to see that after just 4 years, there will be 60,000-80,000 more horses in captivity over and above the current 47,000, totaling 107,000-127,000. At $50,000 per horse of lifetime care, the total cost to care for 127,000 captive horses, and increasing, will be staggering. If you think that today’s 47,000 is bad, wait till 125,000. Almost inevitably, this whole system will financially collapse. At that point , it will all be about money, and tens of thousands of captive wild horse will go to slaughter, public outcry be damned.
The HAR PLAN is worse than no plan, and no plan will spell doom to all wild horses. The only option for us then is to advance an innovative, outside-the-box solution, an unprecedented solution for an unprecedented problem.
Enter the MARR PLAN – February, 2019.
What is the MARR PLAN (vs the HAR PLAN)?
For the Unprecedented Problem: the UNPRECEDENTED SOLUTION
Any “new” plan requiring roundup as in integral part of its MO, e.g. the “HAR PLAN”, tosses itself automatically into the waste paper basket, or, had I the time to manage a filing system, I would put it into the “OBSOLETE UPON INCEPTION” category. Any “new” plan based on and derived from the same old roundup-track that has led us to the current crisis in the first place is just a badly repackaged version of the bad old plan that has never worked.
In contrast, the original, creative and innovative solution advanced by Anthony Marr known as the MARR PLAN will remove not a single horse from the range, ever, thus rendering roundup and slaughter unsavory relics of the past. Further, take note, it will return all captive horses back to the range. And, through it all, it will bring BLM a windfall of over $60 million for more worthwhile work than to build and run even more totally pointless holding facilities.
Sounds like a colossal fantasy, at least a very tall order. So, how?
Here is the MARR PLAN in a nut shell.
1. There are approximately 2 million head of cattle grazing on the public lands as we speak, versus fewer than 100,000 wild horses, or more than 20:1. It used to be even higher, 37:1 at some point, so 20:1 is mathematically a major reduction, and ecologically a major improvement. But who is to say that 20:1 is the right or correct or golden ratio? Why not 19:1, 18:1… 10:1? Even 5:1 is still vastly in favor of the cow over the horse. The MARR PLAN reasonably requires the 20:1 to be marginally reduced to 19:1 – nothing drastic or traumatic to the BLM. Please don’t tell us that BLM does not have that little flexibility. To be exact, the MARR PLAN requires that some 250,000 head of cattle be removed from the public lands, or a mild 12% reduction. The BLM can argue that this will cost it a million dollars or two in grazing fees lost. The MARR PLAN allows for a 12% increase in the grazing fee to offset the “loss”, which is neither severe nor unprecedented. If BLM prefers to appease the remaining ranchers, it has the option not to raise the fee. The $60 million windfall the BLM will reap from the MARR PLAN will dwarf any $1-2M loss into insignificance.
2. In terms of allotment, one cow equals approximately one horse on a per month basis, but if the cows graze on public land only half of the year, then on an annual basis, one horse will equal two cows, in which case a reduction of 250,000 cows will equal to an increase of 125,000 wild horses in the AML, which, added to the extant AML of 26,600, will raise it up to approximately 150,000, or a glorious 600% increase for the horse. Using BLM’s own number of 90,000 wild horses on the range in 2019, given this new AML of 150,000, not only can they all remain on the range, there is now room for 60,000 more horses. BLM’s figure for the number of horses currently in captivity is 47,000. Therefore, ALL wild horses currently in captivity can and will be returned to the wild, bringing up the population to 90,000 + 47,000 = 137,000, which is 13,000 below the new AML of 150,000. If the total population is kept below 150,000 at all times, which with the starting population of 137,000, would be a “piece of cake”. The BLM will have no reason to remove any horse, and the roundup-helicopter will be grounded forever and a day.
3. With the holding facilities thus vacated, they can all be closed down (save the prison adoption program) for good. This, together with ending helicopter-roundups once and for all, will free up over $60 million of the BLM’s budget so far consumed by helicopter expenses and maintenance costs of the expensive holding facilities. BLM will thus go afield to do the on range work it is mandated and supposed to do, which currently it is hardly doing due to funding constraints.
4. BLM will practice mild Maintenance-Contraception to keep the wild horse population below 150,00 at all times. Considering that most of the captive horses have already been sterilized or contracepted during captivity, their return to the wild will give maintenance contraception an excellent head start. The 13,000 vacant head-space will offer ample room for experimentation and to absorb initial errors. Once stabilized, it will be a highly stable system that will nearly run itself. It needs to be pointed out here that there is an ongoing doctrine in the wild horse advocacy community that a wild horse population not deemed overpopulated does not need contraception. The point to be understood in no uncertain terms is that the first purpose of fertility control is to PREVENT overpopulation, not to correct overpopulation after it has occurred. Whoever attacking the MARR PLAN with this doctrine is indulging in one-step-thinking at its finest.
5. There exists plenty of wildfire-prone BLM land with neither cow nor horse. Wild horses are known to be an effective wildfire deterrent by feeding on flammable vegetation. Some of the captive horses, therefore, can be released into these wildfire-prone regions, to the benefit of all. As for the cattle, once the holding pastures have been vacated by the captive wild horses, the displaced cows can be placed into them at a higher density than that on the arid public lands. For those placed into private grazing, which charges much more than what BLM charges for public land grazing, a compensatory package can be issued at BLM’s discretion.
This is an outside-the-box solution, not subjected to inside-the-box constrains. A proposal of a deeply transformative nature like the MARR PLAN won’t work within the confines and methodologies of the old (extant) system, including e.g. the structure of the federal grazing program. It is a pure concept, not a detailed algorithm, which, if adopted by the BLM, will be filled out and made workable by BLM’s own intelligence and expertise. It will involve a lot of discarding of the old and incorporating of the new. Opposition that the MARR PLAN does not “jibe” with the old system and its rules and regulations is irrelevant. Some would ask about personnel. Will there be a lot of layoffs? Not necessarily. There will be a lot of “retraining”, but not a lot of layoffs. In fact, the MARR PLAN will open up many new employment opportunities. It is an original blueprint by a new architect. It is not derived from the blueprint of the fundamentally flawed structure it is designed to replace, and not bound by its obsolete parameters.
There is no doubt that it will take an enormous effort by all involved to achieve this transformation, but once done, all current problems will disappear, and roundup and slaughter will be terminated once and for all.
Please help Anthony Marr help the wild horses we all love and cherish.
- Janelle Earnshaw
- Nancy Fleming
- Ruthanne Penn
- Joy Tracy
Organizer and beneficiary