There has been a lot of frenzy about the news that the Bureau of Land Management’s advisory board voted to recommend euthanizing 45,000 wild horses. Rumors and contradictions have been flying since the announcement. Here are 10 things you should know about the issue.
1. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) itself did not vote to euthanize the horses. Its advisory board, the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, made the controversial decision. As the Inquisitr reported Wednesday, this board voted to recommend euthanizing the horses. At that time, the BLM had not commented on whether it would take their advice.
2. The BLM has now said that they will not euthanize the horses. WTTW reports that the bureau usually takes several months to respond to their advisory board’s recommendations, but they reacted quickly this time in response to the public uproar.
“The BLM will not euthanize or sell without limitation any healthy animals,” BLM spokesman Jason Lutterman told the press. “We’re going to continue caring for and seeking good homes for the un-adopted animals in our off-range corrals and pastures.”
BREAKING: U.S. Government decides it will not euthanize our wild horses! Way to go activists! https://t.co/jRuQRMkleI— Vegan Green Planet (@vegangreeplanet) September 15, 2016
3. The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (Public Law 92-195) put the Bureau of Land Management in charge of ensuring “the protection, management, and control of wild free- roaming horses and burros on public lands.”
“That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.”
The act further says that they must be “protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”
4. According to the act, wild horses may be removed if they are old, sick, or lame and destroyed in the most humane manner possible. Capture of excess wild horses is allowed under the act, provided there are suitable adoptions for them where they can be provided with adequate care. No more than four wild horses are to be adopted by any one individual in a year unless the person can prove that he or she can properly care for more. The act further says that if there are excess wild horses that cannot be adopted, they should “be destroyed in the most humane and cost efficient manner possible.”
5. The BLM has been in trouble for their treatment of wild horses in the past. The Washington Times reported in 2015 that the agency sold 1,794 wild horses for $10 each to a Colorado rancher who sent them to slaughter. An investigation revealed that the bureau did not follow their own rules to protect the wild horses, including limiting the number sold to each individual and ensuring that they were going to good homes and not to slaughter.
Reports are also rampant of abuse of the horses during roundups and in their holding facilities. The Humane Society reports that they have witnessed abuses such as a BLM contractor who appeared to hogtie and leave a lost foal in the path of stampeding mustangs, for instance. The BLM publicly admitted to some abuses on its own website, such as using electrical prods on horses. There are also many concerns about the use of helicopters to round up wild horses and burros and the fact that long runs often permanently separate foals from their mothers.
6. Wild horses are not native to the United States, but neither are cattle. Proponents of euthanizing the horses are quick to point out that wild horses were brought to the United States by the Spanish in the 16th century and are not native to America. However, the lands where wild horses are being removed are often being used for grazing cattle, which are not native either.
@NeillVicki The real crazy part is Beatys Butte HMA has 437,000 acres, BLM claims can only support 100-250 wild horses. But plenty of cattle— Freedom4Horses (@Freedom4Horses) August 21, 2016
Nature World News reports that the species that’s currently the most damaging to our ecosystems is cattle and that 41 percent of all land in the United States is now grazed by livestock.
“Livestock are one of the main drivers of ecological degradation globally, and the crisis is only becoming worse. Grazing has a place in just about every agricultural system, but introducing large numbers of grass-munching cattle into areas where cows were not previously found is rapidly wreaking havoc on native ecosystems – so much so that the practice can now be characterized as an ‘invasive species.'”
One Green Planet reports that cattle now outnumber wild horses 50 to one.
7. Fracking and other forms of Big Energy are also driving forces behind the removal of wild horses and the loss of resources that all wild animals depend on.
“It is very clear that the energy frontier has a significant impact on wild herds, as well as all other interests on western public land,” says Wild Horse Education.
They point out that energy projects are given special status and are exempt from many regulations on public land, and that processing like fracking require massive amounts of water in areas that are plagued with drought as it is.
Utah Rep Chris Stewart wants to open Utah's public lands to mining and fracking and needs Wild Horses gone to do so. pic.twitter.com/N1ESj9sbWs— Freedom4Horses (@Freedom4Horses) May 27, 2016
Wild Horses are Not the Only Ones Who Suffer as Republicans Sell Off Public Lands for Fracking/Mining/Livestock. pic.twitter.com/zrQgU3uYYW— Freedom4Horses (@Freedom4Horses) June 29, 2016
8. Wild horses have been used to rehabilitate prison inmates since 1986 through the Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP). The program, which began in Colorado, now runs in five states. WHIP matches up wild horses and burros with inmates to receive “personal and extensive training as part of an inmate rehabilitative program.”
9. Some of these trained horses now work for the border patrol. The BLM sells some of the trained horses to work the Canadian and Mexican borders.
“All of our mustangs can move up a trail at a good pace. ATV’s can’t get up there. Trucks can’t get up there.” said U.S. Border Patrol ranger Bobby Traweek on the BLM website.
The bureau also points out that not only are the horses excellent at working the rough terrain and handling dangerous situations, but they cost the Border Patrol half of what they’re used to paying for trained horses.
10. Wild horses and burros are available for adoption, starting at only $125 each.
[Featured Image by Russel A. Daniels/AP Images]