Over the past decade it has become increasingly difficult to find a celebrity who remains consistent. Even more rare is a celebrity brave enough to call out a Democratic President. Such is the case with Katherine Heigl and her passion for animal rights.
The Grey’s Anatomy Emmy award winner has recently partnered with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and called on President Biden and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stop the Onaqui wild horse round up currently taking place in the Great Basin in Utah. On July 2nd, the actress and various animal rights groups officials along with concerned residents, visited the Utah state capitol building in Salt Lake City to protest the round up, which began July 15th. In the event, Heigl pleaded, “Help us, President Biden. And please, the American public, call your representatives… it’s our voices that are necessary right now to protect the voiceless.”
During his time in the Senate, Joe Biden received a perfect score from animal rights activist groups. It now appears the progressive Oval Office dweller has moved on from his days of animal support and is concerned with other matters. This makes sense, as animal rights was a favorite talking point for Democrats in 90’s but has lately become passé. The BLM has informed the animal rights groups that these roundups will continue as scheduled. This also serves as a rare example Joe Biden maintaining a Donald Trump policy.
So what exactly happens in these roundups and why are they necessary?
These wild mares and stallions of the Onaqui are rounded up every few years to curb population growth. In these roundups, helicopters circle various groups and herd them into enclosed spaces. According to the activists, in this process some of the animals typically die or are severely injured as they are trampled by other horses. They are then transported off sight to a holding facility where some of them are adopted while the rest live out their lives in small pastures and cages. Some are also sold to buyers in Mexico or Canada where they can be slaughtered for food, a practice currently banned in the United States. BLM maintains the roundups are necessary because the land can support only 121-210 horses while the BLM estimates that 600 of them currently roam the area. Amid a drought, the land cannot adequately feed them and has resulted in an unhealthy horse population. The latter reason appears to be suspect as every picture and video one can find apparently shows all of these horses in good health.
Instead of providing fertility treatments to these populations, which would effectively curb the growth and leave nature alone as Heigl and her partners are calling for, the Biden administration seems OK with allowing this to move forward under the radar of the press. The BLM contends that the proposed system of fertility treatments to the mares is inefficient. “We would have to treat a minimum of 80% of the mares in order to see any kind of any positive result from administering birth control. Once we gather and we’re able to treat all the mares, then we should really start seeing a positive result with a population decrease.”
Heigl has a consistent history regarding animal welfare. In her remarks at the Utah Capitol, the Firefly Lane actress concluded, “We’re pulling out all the stops in pressing President Joe Biden to stop the roundup and eradication of the iconic Onaqui wild horses in Utah and call on the president to implement a course correction before it’s too late.” President Biden has thus far ignored the actress and her fellow activists.
Heigl is one of the more apolitical Hollywood activists. She voted for Obama, but there’s scant evidence to paint her as left-wing radical. She has admitted several times that she “Isn’t good at politics”. This is important because unlike the rest of the Social Justice Warriors who traipse around Hollywood attaching themselves to any cause that increases their following, Heigl has relatively nothing to gain by being publicly outspoken regarding her passion. Whether one agrees with her or not remains irrelevant. She’s consistent and is calling out an administration she likely supported.
Regardless of one’s politics, if the problem with Onaqui is overpopulation (something both sides of this argument agree needs to be addressed), then decreasing the population is the solution. In this case, the activist groups seem to have the better argument. The federal government has the capability of humanely controlling the population growth via fertility treatments which are administered via dart guns. The activists are “following the science”. The government does not have to round up the herd in a way that can lead to unintended deaths of an endangered species and removing animals from their natural habitat. Heigl understands this and is raising awareness.
In 2021, with the technology and medicines that are available, there is an approach to animal rights that can please both progressives and conservatives. In fact, the conservation of nature is inherently conservative. The protection of animals is not an inherently a partisan issue either. It’s always been a question of cost, methodology and implementation, something Heigl has humbly helped to expose.
If only the Biden Administration could forsake “business as usual” politics, stand by his historical principals and actually approach this situation with some sense of nuance, the Onaqui herd in Utah could remain undisturbed, the activists quelled and the habitat conserved for future generations. While Hollywood is typically the purveyor of abject hypocrisy, Heigl has exposed an administration that claims one thing and quietly does the other. Whether she intended to or not, she is a rare example of Hollywood exposing hypocrisy.
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