After wild horses were removed from their natural habitat by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM ), to allow for privately owned cattle to graze on the land for profit, the BLM has now made the decision to euthanize 44,000 wild horses it has been keeping in numerous holding facilities across the United States.
— Animal Rights (@AnimalRRights) September 12, 2016
The public reaction to the decision was that of disgust, with the Humane Society referring to it as “a complete abdication of responsibility for their care,” while strongly criticizing the BLM for not using birth control to curtail the growth of the population.
The Humane Society of the United States released a statement stating:
“The decision of the BLM advisory board to recommend the destruction of the 44,000 wild horses currently in holding facilities is a complete abdication of responsibility for their care. The agency would not be in this situation but for their long-term mismanagement. Alternatives to this proposal have been ignored for over 20 years. The HSUS stands ready to implement these alternatives at any time.”
Approximately 44,000 animals are currently held in short and long-term holdings with an estimated cost of $49 million spent on them in the last year alone. The horses can be adopted from these holding facilities for $125 apiece. However, even if all 44,000 of them were purchased, the $5,625,000 cost would do little to offset the $49 million that the BLM spent on them last year, according to The Verge.
The $49 million spent is over half of the entire budget for the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Meanwhile, less than 1 percent of the BLM wild horse program’s budget is spent on humane fertility control that costs around $26 per dose: The PZP contraceptive vaccine.
PZP is safe, humane and effective alternative to the current ineffective and expensive methods being employed. Rather than sterilization, which is invasive, expensive and inhumane, PZP is flexible and reversible. This method has been used successfully in numerous herd management areas, including on the Assateague Island National Seashore since 1994.
The BLM uses helicopters to chase down mustangs and remove them from the range. However, rather than controlling horse numbers, these roundups actually drive herds to breed more, creating an endless cycle of crisis and spiraling costs. While some are adopted out, the vast majority live out the rest of their lives in taxpayer-funded holding corrals — no longer free and wild.
The BLM’s claims of “overpopulation” on the range are not substantiated by science. The “Appropriate Management Levels” the agency uses to set population isn’t based on science, but is an arbitrary system. The National Academy of Sciences, in a 2013 report, called out the BLM on this, stating that it “could not identify a science-based rationale” behind the AMLs.
The reality is that only 3 percent of western grazing land is inhabited by wild horses. That’s roughly one horse per 500 acres — this can hardly be considered overpopulation by any reasonable or objective standard.
Ironically, the BLM is tasked with preserving our nation’s iconic wild horses, with nearly three-fourths of all Americans supporting this mission. Meanwhile, 80 percent of Americans — including 90 percent of women — oppose horse slaughter.
Why has the BLM has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an unsustainable roundup and removal scheme that has backfired horribly? Are we now going to let the BLM waste millions more on risky and inhumane sterilization experiments that most certainly will damage the health of horses and their herds?
Hopefully, if enough people stand up, this senseless slaughter can be stopped. Please help spread the word about the inhumane treatment of these majestic animals by sharing this story!