Wild Horses: Betrayed or Saved?

Tens of thousands of wild horses face losing their freedom to “front load” a new wild horse and burro management plan. Some say this will save the horses’ future in the longer term.

Plan for Wild Horses and Burros Launched by Large Animal Welfare Groups with Cattle Association Causes Controversy Among Wild Horse and Burro Advocates.

On April 22, a new plan for the management of wild horses and burros was announced by the following organizations:

The ASPCA stated:
“Experts from all corners have put aside their differences to unite under one effective, humane, and proactive plan to protect wild horses and burros and ensure their survival in the American West.” You can read their post here.

The HSUS also issued a statement that:
“The ASPCA®(The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Humane Society Legislative Fund, in concert with rangeland management stakeholders, today announced their support for a proposal on the care of wild horses and burros on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public rangelands. The proposal offers a humane, non-lethal path forward to sustainably manage wild horses and burros in the American West.” Click here for their statement.

Return to Freedom announced that:
“This is a proposal – a first step – intended to confront the inevitable: Bureau of Land Management roundups will continue for the foreseeable future, under the law and with the support of Congress. Unwilling to let this costly stalemate continue, members from both sides of the aisle have asked RTF and others for solutions to the increasing on- and off-range population of wild horses. Maintaining the status quo will likely result in the mass killing or slaughter of wild horses.” Read more of their statement here.

However, other wild horse and burro advocacy groups expressed strong concerns and opposition to this plan citing some pros and cons in their statements, a few of which are listed below:

From American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC):
“As the nation’s largest wild horse preservation organization, we unequivocally oppose a plan by the cattlemen’s industry and two large humane organizations for the mass roundup and removal of America’s iconic wild horses and burros from our Western public lands. This plan is an irresponsible sell out of America’s wild horses and the 80 percent of Americans who want them protected in the wild.” Read more here. 

From Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF):
“Read it and weep, unproven fertility control, increased “gathers”, etc.. Circumventing ALL other Wild Horse & Burro advocacy groups these masters of donations have decided to team up with the welfare ranchers and BLM to wipe out the last of the wild ones on their rightful land. These groups are driven by money and donations, EXCLUSIVELY, and have no regard for the future of our wild herds. They have shown their true colors and it is sickening. The propaganda is posted, below!” Read the blog post here.

From Animal Wellness Action (a group lobbying on behalf of animals):
We recognize that there must be active management to address the social concerns of ranchers and other users of our public lands. Fertility control achieves the key objectives of major players with a stake in the future of wild horses and burros; it reduces reproduction and stabilizes growth and it achieves active management through humane means.

With all of that as a sad historical backdrop for this government’s ham-handed approach to handling wild horses and burros, there now comes an unnerving, naïve, and a historical proposal from two large national animal protection organizations that have made an alliance on this matter with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Their joint proposal advocates for mass removals of tens of thousands of America’s wild mustangs and burros from federal lands on the open range, while conducting aggressive contraception for the horses and burros who would remain on our federal lands.” Read more of their position here.