Wild horse issue needs a compromise solution

Let the caterwauling continue.

The headline over a press release by a group calling itself the American Wild Horse Campaign reads, “80+ Organizations Oppose Trump Administration Plan to Slaughter America’s Mustangs.”

The trigger for the press release — more a fundraising appeal than legitimate polemic — was the release of the Interior Department’s FY2019 budget.

The budget includes this language: “The 2019 budget continues to propose the elimination of appropriations language restricting BLM’s use of all of the management options authorized in the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. This change will provide BLM with the full suite of tools to manage the unsustainable growth of wild horse and burro herds.”

Similar language was in the FY2018 budget, which has yet to be approved.

You see, the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act states: “The Secretary shall cause additional excess wild free-roaming horses and burros for which an adoption demand by qualified individuals does not exist to be destroyed in the most humane and cost efficient manner possible.”

But every federal budget since 2009, has stated, “Appropriations herein made shall not be available for the destruction of healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros in the care of the Bureau or its contractors or for the sale of wild horses and burros that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.”

Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, was quoted as saying in the press release: “Americans want our wild horses and burros protected, not brutally killed and slaughtered.”

Roy was further quoted as saying the horse advocacy groups support a humane and scientific path for wild horse management.

Yet when the Elko district of the Bureau of Land Management submitted a plan to control the wild horse population with fertility control and gathers without ever mentioning euthanizing excess horses, one of those advocacy groups sued saying such action upset the “social organization, band integrity, and expression of a natural behavior repertoire.”

Though wild horses are dying of starvation and thirst on the depleted and drought-stricken range, the self-styled advocates offer only litigation and wild claims. Letting the status quo continue is hardly humane.

When this issue came up in the House Appropriations Committee a year ago Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei, who supported a return to the language in the 1971 law, said during debate, “First let me say I hate this issue and I think everybody here hates this issue. The reality is we have a problem. We have to face it and we have to deal with it. … You think you’re being kind to horses? You’re not. Letting them starve out on the range? … Nobody’s adopting these things — these horses. Not very many people anyway.”

According to the BLM, if nothing is done, by 2020 there will be 130,000 wild horses and burros on BLM-controlled lands, though the range can sustain only 27,000.

That doesn’t count the 45,000 formerly wild horses and burros currently being kept in off-range pens and pastures at a cost of $50 million a year.

In is unlikely Congress will ever approve the wholesale slaughter of wild horses, but there should be a middle ground compromise that handles horses humanely, saves taxpayers money and protects the range, wildlife and agricultural interests. — TM


  1. Phil Edwards says:

    Time to deal with the Bundy Ranch cows also. Someone is going to be killed with them wandering on the highways.

  2. Linda Buxton says:

    If the greedy government (aka BLM) would cut back on some of the land leases to graze cattle and sheep for the ranchers not Improving the land and overgrazing it, there would be a lot more available for our mustangs. From what I’ve seen as a Responsible Jeeper, the BLM management of our lands has been SERIOUSLY LACKING.

  3. The truth of the matter is that the wild horses and burros are being cheated out of their legal land and resources, aka habitat.They are being overly squeezed by selfish human monopolies of the public lands, loathe to share. We need a new and better way of life that allows this sharing. We need to question our lifestyles and learn the live with the wild horses in the wild. As a professional wildlife ecologist, I have long proposed a wise and caring and very realistic solution: Reserve Design. If faithfully conceived and executed, this strategy will result in the restoration of genetically long-term viable, ecologically harmoniously adapted (to each unique region they inhabit), and naturally self-stabilizing populations of wild horses and wild burros. But for this to be achieved, people must share the greater vision of and for life on Earth and care enough about this, believe enough in this, to make it live. See my book at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1461068983 and website http://www.thewildhorseconspiracy.org and my Reserve Design project at http://www.gofundme.com/mstngreservedesign and let’s talk.

  4. Barbara Warner says:

    The NAS study found no evidence of an over-population of wild horses but the BLM has ignored this study it even paid for. Instead it spends millions on unnecessary and cruel roundups and is wiping out our American wild horses. Greedy welfare ranchers and corporations want all the public land and are robbing the public of its heritage. Wake up , folks, before it’s too late and stop believing BLM propaganda that inflates the wild horse population, also they are not starving. Just look at the pictures of those recently rounded up in NV.

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