Robert Redford, Ed Harris, Elle Fanning, Ian Somerhalder and countless other equine enthusiasts joined The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Return to Freedom and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to draw attention to the threat posed to wild horses and burros.
"My family and I stand strongly against horse slaughter and against our government harming our wild horses," said actor and director Ed Harris. "I am pleading that a humane and common sense solution to the management of our wild horse population be mandated by Congress in keeping with the spirit of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act."
Wild Horses Under Siege on Public Lands https://t.co/5NSBGDDwBd @greenpeaceusa @Sierra_Magazine— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1488841225.0
Since the implementation of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has attempted to maintain stable populations by rounding up and removing thousands of horses and burros from the wild, despite repeated directives that this was leading the program to financial instability.
The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Return to Freedom and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have long called for the agency to cease these actions and instead redirect money spent on capturing and holding wild horses toward available solutions, including judicious use of safe, proven fertility control on the range.
The BLM did not listen, and now they want to fix their mistakes by slaughtering wild horses.
Provisions in the budget proposed by the administration would allow the BLM to kill captured wild horses or sell them without restriction—a change that would enable buyers to purchase wild horses on the cheap and haul them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.
If Congress approves provisions in the president's budget, then tens of thousands of horses will die.
On Tuesday July 18, the House Committee on Appropriations will vote on the 2018 Interior Appropriations bill. The bill, approved by the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, maintains protective language, but there is a chance it might be amended in full committee and removed creating a pathway to slaughter.
Wild horse supporters are raising their voices to ensure the protections remain.
Here's the letter sent to Congress from actors, singers, screenwriters and scientists urging them to oppose wild horse slaughter:
We Stand with America's Wild Horses and Burros
Our nation's iconic wild horses are fighting for their lives and we cannot stand by silently and let that happen.
We the undersigned call on Congress to oppose provisions in the president's 2018 budget that threatens the lives of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros that will be senselessly killed or easily sold to those who would profit from their slaughter.
For decades, we have had available humane solutions, which would keep wild equines on the range and save tax dollars. Sadly, agencies continue to discredit proven alternatives instead of committing to implement them.
The American people have repeatedly and resoundingly called for wild horses and burros—the descendants of the animals who helped build our country, made our own freedom possible and shaped a vital part of our cultural heritage—to live free on the range.
Two years after the passage of the "Wild Horse Annie Act," which banned the use of vehicles to hunt down wild horses sold for slaughter, the 1961 movie "The Misfits" brought the brutal practices of the mustangers onto the big screen. Marilyn Monroe cried out on behalf of audiences when she pleaded for a roped and struggling wild horse to b set free.
A decade later, in 1971, the overwhelming passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act enshrined in law the historic bond between Americans and wild horses and the policy of Congress "that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment or death."
Yet, for all that apparent progress, the lives of tens of thousands of captive wild horses are again at risk.
As American citizens and as voters, we do not accept the use of our tax dollars, which for so many years were invested in the health and safety of the captive wild horses and burros, to now pay for the destruction of these noble animals because they have been deemed inconvenient. It is unnecessary and unconscionable.
The American people would never forgive such a betrayal.
We respectfully urge Congress to take a leadership role by opposing mass euthanasia, slaughter and unrestricted sales and, instead, work together to forge a bipartisan, well-reasoned and humane management plan worthy of these "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West" by recognizing and prioritizing viable alternatives that do exist.
As a nation, we can and must do better.
Robert Redford, Actor, Director, Advocate; Governor Bill Richardson, Politician; Wendie Malick, Actress, Advocate; Willie Nelson, Musician, Advocate; Ed Harris, Actor, Director; Amy Madigan, Actress; Lily Harris, Student; Elle Fanning, Actress; Ian Somerhalder, Actor; Carol Burnett, Actress; Ali MacGraw, Actress; Dr. Ross MacPhee Professor and Curator of Mammals, AMNH; Allen Rutberg, PhD, North Grafton, MA.; Bonnie-Jill Laflin, Fox Sports / BBC sportscaster; Priscilla Presley, Actress, Entrepreneur; Noah Wyle, Actor; Sam Elliott, Actor; Katherine Ross, Actress; Robert Gossett, Actor; Claire Forlani, Actress; Dougray Scott, Actor; Debbie Levin, CEO Environmental Media Association; Huey Lewis, Musician; Diane Warren, Songwriter; Scarlet Rivera, Musician; David Midthunder, Lakota Pipe Carrier, Actor; Amber Midthunder, Lakota Dancer, Actress; John Fusco, Writer; David Franzoni, Screenwriter, Geologist; Petrine Day Mitchum, Author, Film Historian; Robert Knott, Writer, Producer, Actor; Rex Linn, Actor; Rachael Worby, Artistic Director MUSE/IQUE; Lance Bass, Producer, Singer; Jill Rappaport, Media host, Advocate; Ed Asner, Actor; Mike Smith, Hall of Fame Jockey; Peri Gilpin, Actress; Laraine Newman, Actress, Comedian; Laura San Giacomo, Actress; Frances Fisher, Actress; Anjelica Huston, Actress; Jessika Van, Actress; Ray Abruzzo, Actor; Dan Lauria, Actor; Victory Tischler-Blue, Producer, Photographer; Tony Stromberg, Photographer; Amber Valletta, Actress; Kimberly Van Der Beek, Producer; Hart Bochner, Actor; Daryl Wein, Writer, Director; Olivia Newton John, Singer, Actress; Mickey Rourke, Actor; Jeff Franklin, Creator / Executive Producer; John Stamos, Actor; Beth Behrs, Actress; and Drew Carey, Comedian / Host
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.