Wild Horses: Liberty or Death?

Over 100 years ago it was estimated that two million wild horses roamed freely. Tens of thousands ended up slaughtered for dog and cat food, captured and treated most cruelly. A wild horse advocacy movement began and gained massive public support. By 1971 the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act (of 1971) was unanimously passed in Congress.

(Left) Wild horses suffer injuries, even death, from roundups. (Right) Mustangs lose their freedom forever after a round up

However, opponents have relentlessly poisoned politicians to amend the Act in favor of special interests such as livestock grazing, oil and gas
exploration, and even big game hunting.   Lands designated by law for wild horse and burro use have been drastically reduced.  The mustangs and burros have been kept from water sources by livestock grazers who fence off areas for cattle grazing.  Wild horses and burros have been shot and killed or left to die.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has rounded up wild horses until most herds are well below genetic viability.  More mustangs are crammed into government holding facilities than remain in the wild.  Wild horses and burros are injured and even die due to yearly removals.

And our taxpayer dollars fund all of this to the tune of millions of dollars!

I need you to help us continue to fight against the BLM’s mismanagement of the Wild Horse and Burro Program and the powerful, wealthy special interests whose lobbyists spread lies about over population, over-grazing, and promote a “management to extinction” policy.

Just last week, dirty politics were in full force at a hearing by the House Natural Resources Committee’s Public Lands Subcommittee. Here are a few of the comments made by wild horse opponents:

A Nevada rancher and livestock vet (J.J. Goicoechea) put forth his ‘solutions’ for managing wild horses and burros (1) round up 100% of the herds; (2) remove 40,000 animals to get down to the low Appropriate Management Level; (3) use mass euthanasia and/or sale for slaughter to dispose of the 40,000 horses and burros captured, and for the 44,000 already in government holding; and (4) surgically sterilize all horses and burros who remain on the range.

Rep. Cynthia Loomis (R-WY) promoted “lovely and peaceful euthanasia” of wild horses “whose wild lives are over.”

Committee Chairman Tom McClintock claimed that animal rights groups are responsible for “mass starvation” of wild horses on the range. He went on to state that wild horses should be managed like livestock and “harvested” when their numbers increase.

Democrats were not present as they were holding a sit-in regarding gun control. One lone advocate, Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation, stood steadfast for the wild horses and was treated with disdain and extreme rudeness.

Save the Mares

Family bands are destroyed by roundups

Now at least 200 wild mares held captive in Oregon are facing cruel, unnecessary and barbaric experiments in attempts to “just see” if sterilization procedures might work. It is well known that some of these procedures are not even performed on domestic mares… and certainly none have been done on wild ones.

The BLM has ignored the thousands of public comments opposing these appalling procedures which you can read about more here (click here for BLM’s decision record on the dangerous to deadly sterilization experiments).

The BLM’s document clearly points out the lack of a sterile environment for the procedures where attempts will be made to ‘make the best of it’. It indicates that major complications leading to death or necessary euthanasia of a mare are anticipated to be less than two percent. They note that if any gestational group in any of the three procedures meets a major complication rate of greater than twenty percent, then the procedure will be stopped.

The mares are to be monitored for post-operative complications which can include pain (such as colic, anorexia) as well as bleeding, infection or signs of abortion.

Pregnant mares and fillies as young as 8 months of age are slated to be part of this appalling research. Not long after the surgeries, surviving mares will be exposed to stallions.

What We Know:

There are more humane and cost effective alternatives for wild horse and burro population control that are being under-funded and under-utilized. The fertility vaccine (PZP) is a primary example of population control available for over 20 years which keeps horses managed on the range. Sterilized herds will ensure wild horses are forever removed from our taxpayer funded lands – public lands allocated to them by law.

Wild horses value freedom and family just as we do. Their beauty, independence and strong family bonds are qualities we admire. Escalation of removals, macabre sterilization experiments and slaughter are NOT viable options.

Will you help us demand an end to the BLM catering to special interests?

Will you speak up for America’s dwindling wild horse herds before it’s too late?

Contact the BLM to voice your opposition to their cruel sterilization research, [email protected]

Contact your Congressional representatives and inform them of these unnecessary experiments and the need for humane, common sense alternatives to be implemented.  Locate your reps at www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.


Front Range Equine Rescue continues to fight and advocate for America’s fast disappearing wild horse herds. We’ve rescued mustangs from auctions and kill buyers and waged legal battles on their behalf. Please join us in continuing to spare them from more cruelty at the hands of powerful special interests and uncaring politicians.

If you prefer to donate by mail instead of online, click here for our mail-in reply form.

The sterilization procedures proposed on wild mares are nothing short of barbaric, cruel and simply put – outrageous. These procedures are rarely performed on domestic horses because of the complications under the best of circumstances. The fact that the procedures will be carried out in the field versus under sterile surgical conditions alone will result in complete failure and the death of many if not all of the mares. The fact that the procedures are proposed to be done on wild mares is negligent and unethical – it is impossible to monitor these mares and provide needed antibiotics and pain control. The risks far outweigh the benefits. I would urge the BLM to continue to expand on the use of range management of wild horse populations through the use of PZP – a safe and effective fertility vaccine. This system has been proven to work without jeopardizing the lives of the horses that are part of our heritage.
– – Laureen Bartfield, DVM cVSMT Director, SNAP-NC