The Bureau of Land Management recently reversed its 2018 wild horse and burro sales policy change which allowed a single buyer to purchase up to 24 captured wild horses (or burros) per day — no questions asked and no waiting period. That policy had left the door wide open for kill buyers and their associates to buy up horses en masse for slaughter.
The new reversal of that policy means that BLM field offices will immediately revert to the policy set in 2014 which limits buyers to purchasing no more than four wild horses or burros every six months, unless they receive special permission.
The 2005 Burns amendment had given the BLM authority to sell captured horses over the age of 10 (and those offered for adoption 3 times but never placed) which was a serious blow to efforts to protect America’s wild horse and burros. When the sales policy changed in 2018, the BLM gave a green light for federally protected animals to be sent in large numbers for slaughter in plants across our borders.
It is hoped that ongoing advocacy efforts and the number of humane alternatives the BLM could choose to manage wild horses and burros will eventually lead to ending the sale program altogether.
Protecting American Horses From Slaughter and Consumption
On January 30th, U.S. House Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) reintroduced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to end the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. The legislation would prohibit the sale and transport of equines for slaughter which would prevent horse slaughter plants from operating in the U.S. and also ending the export of U.S. horses across our borders to Mexico and Canada for this purpose.
Over 100,000 innocent horses are exported for slaughter each year with intense suffering occurring even before they reach the kill box. Kill buyers cram horses into semi trucks usually obtaining them from low-end auctions or owners looking to re-home or sell their horse for free or cheaply. Very often they (or their workers) pretend to be a safe home or even a rescue.
The horses who are not immediately shipped to slaughter often spend time at “kill lots” where they are in filthy conditions with many becoming dangerously ill from contagious diseases. Those in transport often go for over 24 hours without food, water, or rest. Depending upon point of origin, they can be transporting within the U.S. long before reaching the border into Canada or Mexico.
At the slaughter plant, the horror intensifies as the exhausted, sick, injured and terrified horses endure multiple blows to the head in attempts to render them unconscious via the captive bolt method. Gunshot methods for killing regularly involve numerous shots as the panicked horse moves frantically around in the kill box.
Years worth of public polls show a strong percentage (at least 80%) of Americans wanting to ban horse slaughter.
“Horses have a special place in our nation’s history, and these majestic creatures were not raised as food for humans,” U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky said. “The SAFE Act would prohibit any horse slaughter plant from opening; and also end the sale or transport of horses and horse parts in the U.S. and abroad for the purpose of human consumption. I am proud to reintroduce this bill and work with Congressman Buchanan to put an end to this practice.”
“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that has no place in America,” U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan said. “I will continue to lead the effort with Congresswoman Schakowsky to ban domestic horse slaughter and end the export of horses abroad for slaughter.”
Horses are not raised as a food animal in the U.S., and they receive a number of medications and other drugs during their lives that make them unfit for human consumption. Front Range Equine Rescue’s legal actions at the state and federal level during 2012-2013 were based upon these facts.
The SAFE Act would prevent millions of taxpayer dollars from being wasted to allow plants to operate in the U.S. where numerous violations were documented when these facilities were open in the past. Regulations and methods for killing at a U.S. plant would not have any significant difference. Horses cannot be slaughtered humanely. Opening U.S. plants does not stop horses from crossing the border as kill buyers have contracts with various slaughter operators. Just like in the past, they would work to fill quotas for each facility whether it’s in the U.S. or in Mexico and Canada.
A similar bill in the Senate is expected to be introduced.
Updates on U.S. Forest Service’s Plans for Wild Horses
The latest update to our lawsuit filed over the Forest Service’s plans to sell Devil’s Garden wild horses without limitations (which would result in wild horses going to slaughter) is that the Forest Service has now announced that it will not begin those sales until at least February 18.
As of December 10th, 190 wild horses (ages 10 and older) captured during the month-long helicopter roundup remain in danger of being sold for slaughter. Our Federal district court case filed to stop the sale of the older horses is ongoing with an expedited briefing schedule.
In total, 932 wild horses were removed from the Modoc National Forest during the roundup. About 260 of them (ages 10 and up) have been put up for adoption or sale with a restriction against slaughter at the Forest Service’s Double Devil Corrals located at Modoc National Forest near Alturas, CA. Currently, about 70 of the horses have found homes.
The remaining captured horses (ages 9 and under as well as mares with foals) were moved to the BLM’s Litchfield corrals located near Susanville, CA. Weather conditions have slowed efforts to prepare these horses to be available for adoption. The adoptions are likely to begin sometime this month, at the earliest, according to information from the BLM.
The horses at the highest risk of going to slaughter are those to be offered for sale “without limitations” at a price of $1 each. It is hoped that lawsuits filed in Federal court will stop this from occurring as it violates state and federal laws. There are other humane alternatives the Forest Service can consider.
Updates On U.S. Forest Service’s Plan for California’s Wild Horses
The Forest Service’s roundup of the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory has ended with the permanent removal of over 900 horses from their federally-designated habitat on our public lands in California’s Modoc National Forest. We’ve learned that at least 13 horses have died, including a foal. Three mares aborted foals likely due to the trauma of the roundup.
The Forest Service reported euthanizing 7 horses who showed symptoms of pigeon fever, a contagious but usually non-fatal bacterial infection. In spite of the outbreak, the Forest Service held an adoption/sales event this past weekend knowing that pigeon fever is communicable to other livestock.
At this time, the Forest Service intends to sell older horses by the truckload for $1 a piece without limitation on slaughter beginning January 15 or after.
California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra has spoken out about this clear breach of state law noting that it is a felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison. However, the Forest Service is exploiting a legal loophole that puts hundreds of horses in grave danger.
Our lawsuit to stop the “sale without limitation” of the remaining horses is on an expedited briefing schedule with filings due at Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve day. It is our goal to ensure none of the horses end up in the slaughter pipeline.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has recently submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary and Chief of the U.S. Forest Service urging them to reverse their decision to sell California wild horses without restriction. The U.S. Forest initially rounded up 1,000 protected wild horses in October from the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory to reduce the horse populations within the Modoc National Forest. The Forest service will prioritize the adoption of wild horses by members of the public until January 10th, 2019.
After January 10th, 2019, any horses that remain from the October roundup will be for sale without restriction. This Forest Service policy change not only risks violating state law but also contradicting federal law in the Department of the Interior. Attorney General Becerra explains, “To slaughter for commercial consumption mustangs that have roamed California for over a century is not only atrocious, but unlawful. These majestic animals captivate the imagination and symbolize the rugged independence of the American West. We urge the federal government to treat the Modoc National Forest and its wildlife with the respect that it is due by protecting these beautiful wild horses from the commercial slaughterhouse.”
Advocates Continue Working to Protect Wild Horses in Devil’s Garden
Front Range Equine Rescue has partnered with other advocates to protect captured wild horses from the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory (Modoc National Forest, CA) from being sold by the truckload for $1 each by the U.S. Forest Service.
The lawsuit states, in part, that the U.S. Forest Service has “abruptly and inexplicably reversed the long-standing policy of two different federal agencies concerning the disposal of wild horses removed from federal public lands, all but guaranteeing that federally protected wild horses will now be slaughtered for human consumption in violation of the California Penal Code and multiple federal laws, as well as the expressed will of Congress and the American people.”
Furthermore, “…after a short period when the wild horses could be adopted, the Forest Service has announced that any older horses or horses not successfully adopted will be offered for sale “without limitation.” Sales of wild horses to commercial slaughter are anticipated to begin as early as January 2019.”
The lawsuit charges violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Wild Horse Act) and the National Forest Management Act.
Plaintiffs in the case are Front Range Equine Rescue, The Humane Society of the United States, Marin Humane, Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills, Return to Freedom, humane law enforcement officers Cindy Machado and Rosemary Frieborn.
Advocacy organizations are working hard to find safe, qualified adoptive homes for horses up for adoption as well as humane options for those facing the danger of sale to slaughter. The Forest Service needs to cooperate and do the right thing for the 1,000 horses it removed by adhering to laws protecting wild horses.
Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have put the U.S. Forest Service on notice regarding the sale without limitation of horses rounded up from California’s Modoc National Forest.
FRER and HSUS sent a strongly worded letter to the Forest Service (under the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) which reads in part that they:
…are writing to put you on notice with respect to violations of federal and state law in connection with the Forest Service’s plan to sell wild horses “without limitation” after it captures them from the Devil’s Garden Plateau Wild Horse Territory, found in the Modoc National Forest in northeastern California. It is commonly understood, and can certainly be proven, that the sale of wild horses without limitation (especially at the announced $1/per horse price) will result in their sale to purchasers who will ship them to Canada or Mexico, where they will be slaughtered for human consumption.
The Forest Service’s plans to sell wild horses without limitation are in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. (NEPA), the Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations, 40 C.F.R. parts 1500-1508, the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 551, et seq. (APA), California Penal Code section 598c, the spirit of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (“Wild Horse Act”), 16 U.S.C. § 1331 et seq., Congressional sentiment, and the desire of the majority of the American people. We hope that after review of this letter, the Forest Service will withdraw its decision to sell any wild horses “without limitation” in connection with this gather. If the Forest Service is not willing to change its decision, we will consider all other legal remedies available to our clients and their supporters, to stop the Forest Service’s actions.
FRER and HSUS have given the Forest Service until October 23 to provide a response.
Continued Advocacy Efforts Are Reaching the Public Eye
Since Front Range Equine Rescue filed a federal lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), their continued advocacy efforts have not gone unnoticed. “This Horse Rescue Group Is Fighting Back Against the BLM’s Cruel Wild Horse Sterilization Experiment” by Estelle Rayburn writes on the recent events and proposed plans of the BLM. While the public has voiced outrage in regard to BLM’s plans to surgically sterilize the wild mares in Oregon, the BLM expects to move forward with their plans.
However, despite the continued pursuit of the surgery, horse defenders such as Front Range Equine Rescue have continued to advocate for the wild mares, filing a lawsuit against the BLM, ” contending that the harm and suffering the animals involved in the cruel experiment would surely endure would be in violation of federal law.” Continuing to pursue these surgeries in a non-sterile environment is dangerous and “violates the BLM’s congressional mandate to care for wild horses at a minimal feasible level.”
Lawsuits Against the BLM Have Caught CNN’s Attention
“Nonprofits sue to stop ‘inhumane’ government project to sterilize 100 wild horses” by Ellie Kaufman features Front Range Equine Rescue as one of the nonprofits leading the lawsuit against the Interior Department Bureau of Land Management. Front Range Equine Rescue has filed a federal lawsuit in Washington D.C., while other nonprofits,such as the American Wild Horse Campaign and the Cloud Foundation have filed a lawsuit in Oregon.
The filed lawsuits are against the proposed surgery called ovariectomy via colpotomy, that the BLM plans to use on 100 horses from the Warm Springs Herd Management Area. The risk y surgery requires a veterinarian to make an incision and to use their hands to feel for the ovaries before using a tool to extract them. Both Front Range Equine Rescue and the American Wild Horse Campaign are advocating for safer ways to manage the population, including the birth control vaccine for horses called Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP). Despite the previous failed attempts to use this surgery on wild mares, the BLM plans to begin rounding up horses for this surgery in October.
Nonprofit Horse Rescue Group Challenges Inhumane Experimental Surgery
WASHINGTON, DC, September 25, 2018 – Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER), a national nonprofit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue, advocacy, and education, has filed suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management to stop the BLM’s experimental and invasive sterilization of wild mares. The lawsuit was filed yesterday in federal court in Washington D.C.
FRER’s suit contends the BLM’s intention to conduct surgical “experimentation” on wild mares in the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in Eastern Oregon, and then return them to the range without proper oversight, causes harm and suffering in violation of federal law. FRER’s lawsuit also says the plan represents a conflict of interest and is not in the best interests of wild horses, but rather in the BLM’s own best interest by reducing their management load without considering their mandate to properly manage the horses.
The sterilizations on wild mares proposed by the BLM was originally to be carried out in collaboration with Colorado State University, which has now withdrawn its involvement. Despite this vote of nonsupport, BLM has stated its intention to move forward, with unidentified veterinarians, to perform a dangerous procedure. BLM will be removing hundreds of horses from the Warm Springs Herd Management Area and identifying selected mares for their experiment. Veterinarians will then slice open the mare’s vagina while she is sedated, but awake and standing, and pulling her ovaries out — a risky and controversial surgical procedure even for tame mares under the best of conditions, let alone captive wild horses in a holding facility. Some of the mares will be in various stages of pregnancy. After a short recovery period, some of the sterilized mares will be returned to the range for monitoring.
“Performing unproven surgeries in a non-sterile environment violates the BLM’s congressional mandate to care for wild horses at a minimal feasible level, especially when responsible alternatives like the PZP contraceptive vaccine already exist to maintain population levels and ensure herd viability,” said Hilary Wood, President of FRER.
Earlier this year, FRER filed formal comments opposing the “research” that will be done on these conscious, wild mares. These comments – and comments submitted by more than 20,000 members of the public – were disregarded, prompting FRER to file its suit.
“These sterilization procedures are overly invasive, and they are unlikely to have applicability for mares on public lands,” said Laureen Bartfield, DVM, who volunteers with the BLM for the administration of noninvasive birth control.
“The unvisualized removal of the ovaries, while documented in the literature, is disfavored by reputable veterinarians. The BLM’s plan is not just clinically ill-advised, it constitutes animal cruelty on a large scale.”
The plans for eventual widespread sterilization of horses on the range will also run up an estimated cost to the taxpayers in the millions.
BLM’s Plans to Conduct Experimental Sterilization Surgeries on Wild Horses Have Been Disrupted
Late last week Colorado State University (CSU) issued a statement withdrawing from partnering with the BLM to conduct unnecessary and dangerous sterilization research on 100 wild mares in Oregon. Part of their announcement reads:
After careful consideration of multiple factors during the 30-day public comment period for the Warm Springs, Oregon, mare spay project, Colorado State University is withdrawing our partnership on the surgical spaying of mares. The project is led by the Bureau of Land Management and USGS. The decision to withdraw was made with the support of our involved researchers.
Front Range Equine Rescue had submitted comments to the BLM in opposition to the proposed plan. Dozens of other organizations and thousands of equine advocates did the same.
As of this writing, it is unclear whether the BLM will cancel their plans or seek a new partner elsewhere.
Following is some of FRER’s media coverage raising awareness of this issue prior to CSU backing out.
Nonprofit Plans Lawsuit to Stop Inhumane, Unsafe Surgery for “Research”
Front Range Equine Rescue, a national nonprofit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue, advocacy, and education, announced today it has filed comments to stop the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management from performing dangerous experimental sterilizations on wild horses.
The BLM plans to award a research grant to Colorado State University in Fort Collins to perform experimental sterilization surgeries on pregnant and non-pregnant mares. After capturing the approximately 800 horses living in the Warm Springs herd in southeastern Oregon, 100 mares would be selected for sterilization. After a short post-operative observation period, some mares would be returned to the herd.
FRER has filed formal comments objecting to ovariectomy via colpotomy* – a potentially life-threatening surgery with a high risk of complications including prolonged bleeding, hemorrhaging, infections and sepsis, tissue myopathy, neuropathy, and pain, in addition to premature birth and abortion in pregnant mares. FRER maintains that the harm and suffering caused by these medically irresponsible surgeries violate federal law.
If FRER’s comments are disregarded, the organization plans to file suit against the BLM in federal court.
“Reputable equine veterinarians with wild horse experience object to this cruel and dangerous procedure, performed unvisualized while mares are fully conscious, because of the many serious risks during surgery or after due to complications,” said Hilary Wood, President of FRER. “There are added dangers if sterilized mares have complications after they are back in the wild. We urge the BLM to use the many available humane alternatives instead of this radical method of population control.”
The BLM has proposed permanently sterilizing wild horses several times, most recently in 2016, when it dropped its plans following a lawsuit filed by FRER and comments from more than 20,000 members of the public. In 2011, a federal court halted plans to castrate wild horses on the grounds it would be “extreme and irreversible.” In 2012, the BLM was again forced to defend similar plans in federal court, and abandoned its efforts to castrate some of Nevada’s wild horses.
* Ovariectomy via colpotomy is described by the BLM as “making an incision, approximately 1-3 centimeters long, in the anterior-dorsallateral vagina…The incision would be enlarged with blunt dissection to perforate the peritoneum and allow the surgeon’s hand to enter the abdomen.” The surgeon inserts a snare-like tool, and attempts to remove the ovaries without visualization aids, such as laparoscopy, to avoid damaging other organs or blood vessels. The procedure would be done under local anesthesia, so the mare remains awake and standing. This method of permanent sterilization, already problematic on domesticated horses in sanitary conditions such as an appropriately equipped veterinary hospital, would be performed in the field at BLM’s wild horse warehousing facilities.
In 2016, the BLM attempted cruel and dangerous sterilization experiments on wild mares with Oregon State University.
Public outcry and lawsuits filed by wild horse advocacy groups like FRER helped to stop this horrific plan…but now, the BLM is at it again. With a few changes, their current proposal is similar to the gruesome plan of two years ago, but this time CO State University applied for the research grant money to participate.
Most of the wild mares will be in various stages of pregnancy. They will use a surgical procedure known as ovariectomy by colpotomy which has known high risks of pain, bleeding, infection, abortion of foals and evisceration where the intestines protrude through the surgical incision. Even the National Academy of Sciences has concluded this procedure is “inadvisable for field application”.
The surgery itself is described graphically by BLM as follows:
The surgical procedure would involve making an incision, approximately 1–3 centimeters long, in the anterior-dorsallateral vagina. Both ovaries are accessed through this one incision. The incision would be enlarged with blunt dissection to perforate the peritoneum and allow the surgeon’s hand to enter the abdomen. . . . The ovary and associated mesovarium are isolated by direct manual palpation and local anesthesia (5 ml 5% bupivacaine and 5 ml 2% lidocaine) is injected into each ovarian pedicle. . . . The ovarian pedicle would be transected with a chain ecraseur.
Given the serious risks to the mares subjected to this experiment, the BLM has not sufficiently justified the need for the research when (in their own assessment) all the experiment “may” do is provide “more details” about a surgical procedure. This amounts to first-line experimentation on the very horses that BLM is required to protect from harm and suffering which goes against the agency’s obligations under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to protect wild horses from harm and suffering.
The BLM has numerous alternatives for population management of wild horses including PZP (a safe form of birth control which BLM has not widely used).
Comments on the Environmental Assessment are due July 30th. You can submit them directly to the BLM at [email protected]
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Has A New Sale Policy, Take Action Now!
BLM has revised their sale policy to allow agency officials to increase the number of wild horses and burros sold to individuals and organizations from a limit of 4 now to 25.
The prior policy from 2012 limited individuals and organizations to purchase just four horses in a six-month period. This policy emerged after investigations showed that the BLM was selling horses to a known kill buyer who then sent them to slaughter.
This has left the door wide-open for kill buyers to come and fill their trucks with no regard for the lives of America’s wild horses and burros.
The Department of the Interior must act on behalf of the horses immediately when humane options for wild horses and burros exist.
Responsible management means focusing on finding more humane homes for captured horses with more gentling programs to improve adoption rates. Large-scale fertility control on the range using already developed humane, safe methods (PZP) need to be more widely used. The BLM should make better use of the numerous public-private relationship offers to better manage the horses.
No government agency should be allowed to kill them off to manage their budget or correct a poorly run wild horse and burro program.
Contact your elected officials in Congress to stand up to the BLM and Interior Department which oversees the BLM. Tell Congress to ensure wild horse and burro protections remain in place and slaughter is not an option. Locate your Congresspeople via 202-224-3121.
Your calls, emails and other contact with Senators helped save wild horses and burros!
On June 15, we learned that the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to keep protections to stop plans for mass killing and slaughter of wild horses and burros in the Fiscal Year 2019 Interior Department budget bill.
And just as importantly, they said “NO” to allowing dangerous sterilization procedures.
A reconciliation committee will need to iron out differences between the Senate and House versions of this budget bill before the entire U.S. House and Senate vote on the overall federal budget bill for FY19.
Remember, the House of Representatives committee did not spare wild horses and burros from cruel sterilization plans.
It will be critical for wild horse and burro advocates to contact their elected officials before the final vote on the overall budget bill. It is anticipated this could happen late summer/early fall.
In the meantime, we are deeply grateful to everyone who called, emailed or met with their member(s) of Congress on this critical issue.
Will massive sterilization plans eliminate wild horses and burros from public lands as allocated to them by law?
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee has approved the Stewart Amendment in the Interior Department’s budget bill for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19). This amendment supports sterilization for wild horses and burros using invasive, unsafe and inhumane methods (i.e., colpotomy and ovariectomy).
Any form of “spaying” a wild horse or burro is cruel, dangerous and even deadly. These animals will be highly traumatized and their health (even lives) endangered if permanent sterilization methods are allowed for their “management” by the BLM.
In 2016, advocates fought off the BLM’s attempt to use these barbaric procedures when proposed experiments were announced for wild mares in Oregon.
The only positive aspect of the current House vote is that the amendment did not call for any killing of wild horses, which is a change from last year’s approach.
The BLM has many humane management options including:
strategies to manage the herds through expanded use of PZP, a fertility control vaccine already in use.
improving adoptions through gentling programs.
public-private partnerships and sanctuary.
These alternatives are safe, effective and can be further expanded upon especially with the House committee having agreed to a $15 million increase for the BLM to manage wild horses and burros.
The Senate Appropriations Committee holds the future of wild horses and burros in their hands.
Please call your Senators and politely urge them to support the humane management of wild horses and burros which does not include permanent sterilization methods for population control.
The names of your Senators and their office phone numbers are available via www.senate.gov and it is critical the final federal budget bill for FY19 does not provide for measures to have non-reproducing herds.
Establishing Language that Protects America’s Wild Horses and Burros
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee is considering the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget bill for the Interior Department. This bill includes funding for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.
A current draft of the bill protects wild horses and burros from mass killing and slaughter. However, it is expected that Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah will introduce an amendment to remove these protections.
If the House fails to keep protective language within the FY19 Interior Department budget bill, it will be critical that the Senate version provides these protections. And, that the Senate version prevails during a reconciliation of differences between the two bills.
Contact your U.S. House Rep and two Senators through the Capitol operator at 202-224-3121 to keep language which protects America’s wild horses and burros in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget bill.
There is no need for unnecessary roundups to stockpile more horses in holding facilities or seek out untested, dangerous, and even deadly “sterilization” techniques.
The BLM has humane options available, which include:
managing horses on the rangelands allocated to them by law.
keeping populations in check through the use of PZP (a proven birth control method).
improving adoption rates.
forming public-private partnerships to monitor the herds.
The Bureau of Land Management just released another disastrous plan to manage America’s treasured wild horses and burros.
Just this week the BLM released their latest agenda to destroy America’s wild horse and burro herds by decimating their populations on our Western taxpayer funded public lands. The agency failed to include the many humane and politically viable management choices requested by Congress. Instead they produced an outrageous plan which ignores massive public support for the horses, recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report which BLM itself had commissioned as well as a Unified Statement with humane and common sense recommendations supported by over 100 equine welfare and advocacy organizations.
The plan would cut wild horse and burro populations to an AML of 27,000, the number that existed in 1971 when Congress unanimously passed protections for wild horses and burros because they were “fast disappearing.” The unscientific AMLs listed are pathetically low in most Western states. For example in New Mexico, the BLM wants an AML of just 83 horses when the state has more than 14 million acres of BLM-managed public land.
The NAS report even stated the BLM’s AML levels are “not transparent to stakeholders, supported by scientific information, or amenable to adaptation with new information and environmental and social change.”
To achieve their manage-to-extinction goal, the BLM has proposed a variety of cruel, unscientific and completely unacceptable methods including:
Removing more than 50,000 wild horses and burros from the range;
The mass killing or sale for slaughter of up to 100,000 mustangs and burros, including those currently in holding facilities and those to be removed from the public lands;
Mass sterilization of wild horses and burros left on the range — an option previously rejected by the NAS due to suggested dangerous sterilization methods.
BLM’s decades long mismanagement of the Wild Horse and Burro program led to their budget problems in the first place. Yet they continue proposing more abusive plans, including mass roundups and slaughter to hide years of incompetence while catering to powerful and wealthy special interests which are against the wild horses and burros.
Legislation-wise nothing new should happen until October 2018 when the FY2019 federal budget could be voted on. In the meantime, the BLM continues to promote their “overpopulation” and “dire situation” propaganda to lawmakers. Lawmakers need to be educated now that cries of overpopulation are wrong when speaking about wild horses and burros. Livestock dominate and destroy our public lands outnumbering horses at times by 50:1. Many wild horse herds are not large enough to be considered genetically viable.
Estimates of up to 75,000 wild horses and burros on public lands are nothing compared to the millions of head of private (and corporate) livestock damaging and overgrazing our public lands.
It should be noted that wild horses and burros in holding cost about $50 million annually while livestock grazing on public lands costs taxpayers $144 million with a net loss of at least $123 million per year according to the Government Accountability Office.
To avoid a government shutdown, Congress is poised to vote on the FY2018 budget bill by midnight Friday.
The good news is that the current Omnibus spending bill uses the Senate’s version of the Agriculture Department and Interior Department budget bills which (1) prevent funding for horse meat inspections, and (2) keeps language to protect wild horses and burros from unlimited sale, mass killing or slaughter.
But it is not a done deal until the final vote by Congress!
Call now to urge Congressional leaders to keep America’s horses safe by ensuring the final Omnibus budget bill does not allow for funding of horse meat inspectors and keeps protections for wild horses and burros against any unlimited sale or slaughter.
Contact your own elected officials to ensure they will not vote for any budget bill allowing funding for horse slaughter or the mass killing, unlimited sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros. Find your Reps and Senators via Capital switchboard 202-224-3121.
America’s horses are NOT raised as a food animal. They are not regulated as a food animal. There are many humane alternatives in place for both domestic and wild horses. We stand by our horses!
Keep Dirty Politics Out of Wild Horse and Burro Lives!
In 2017, the BLM’s war against wild horses and burros escalated further with the current administration proposed “cut and kill” policy to manage wild horses and burros of the West.
With overcrowded government holding facilities and plans to decrease the BLM’s budget, opponents of wild horses increased political pressure to allow unlimited sale, mass killing and slaughter of at least 44,000 wild horses.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved this measure in its version of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed budget bill. The U.S. Senate did not include approval in its version of the same budget bill. Both bills must be reconciled before a new FY2018 federal budget can pass.
At this time, the FY18 budget bill has been delayed numerous times for a final vote. But the current administration’s suggested budget bill for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) would allow the destruction of wild horses.
The BLM claims its holding facilities are beyond capacity and its largest expense is to feed captive horses. Ironically it continues to remove horses (and burros) to the tune of millions of dollars in taxpayer money keeping its cycle of budget crisis going.
Winter roundups to date have resulted in dozens of injured horses with at least 13 deaths by early February. Witnesses to brutal winter roundups have documented horses in very good body condition which contradicts the BLM’s ongoing excuse of “starving on the range” as a reason for roundups.
It is up to the American public to stand up for wild horse and burro protections allocated to the horses by law. Congress needs to hear from voters that they oppose any legislation which allows unlimited sale, mass killing or slaughter of these national treasures, our icons of the West.
The BLM’s budget should focus on appropriate management on the range strategies, increased public-private partnerships, expanded safe/effective population control (PZP use) and gentling programs to help increase adoption rates and success for captured horses.