60 Stakeholders Oppose Cruel, Costly Wild Horse and Burro Round-Up Plan

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Animal Wellness Action, The Cloud Foundation and American Wild Horse Campaign, Joined by 60 Stakeholders in Opposing Cruel, Costly Massive Wild Horse and Burro Round-Up Plan

The plan, still short on details, would cost taxpayers a billion dollars and depopulate many parts of the West of these iconic animals

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a broad coalition of stakeholders, organizations, and businesses sent a letter to the U.S. Congress in strong opposition to a dangerous and unworkable proposal that threatens our iconic American wild horses. The bizarre proposal, a brainchild of the HSUS and ASPCA, working in concert with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Farm Bureau Federation, calls for the removal of at least 45,000 to 60,000 and potentially as many as 200,000 wild horses and burros from our federal lands over the next ten years, putting the horses at significant risk of slaughter and placing a burden on taxpayers for an outcome that is widely appalled by the public.

Nearly 60 signors, including wild horse advocacy organizations, horse rescues, animal protection organizations, and horse-related businesses across the nation have banded together to defeat this egregious measure, urging legislators to reject the dangerous proposal.

“This is a terrible deal for wild horses. The unfunded 'plan' will put tens of thousands more wild horses in government holding, with their fate left to the whims of future appropriators,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director at the American Wild Horse Campaign. “Make no mistake: this could result in the eventual slaughter of tens of thousands of wild horses. The cattlemen’s lobby is the only winner, achieving the near extinction-level population of wild horses they have long sought."

“This ill-considered plan would remove tens of thousands of our iconic American wild horses from the range at a billion-dollar price-tag to the taxpayer over a decade,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “The biggest beneficiary of this plan would not be horses, but the livestock industry, which will see the federal government remove wild horses so that more cattle can graze on our public lands.”

"In its current form, this plan would be disastrous for our wild herds,” said Ginger Kathrens, founder and executive director of The Cloud Foundation. “It provides for no meaningful accountability on the part of BLM to implement humane and reversible fertility control measures. This plan gives BLM the mandate it has always wanted to round up more than 50,000 of our wild horses, doubling the number in off-range holding at enormous cost to the American taxpayer. We fear that unless funds are allocated to support those horses in holding for the rest of their natural lives, we will eventually see them sold killed in slaughterhouses. Meanwhile, our wild herds will be even more decimated, suffering deterioration in health due to poor genetic variability. Bottom line, wild horses and burros will eventually disappear from the West altogether. We suspect this is exactly what some of the stakeholders presenting this plan want."

“This proposal is both inhumane and socially insensitive, and it falsely implies that there are not other viable solutions," said Willis Lammis, president, Least Resistance Training Concepts, based in Nevada. “The BLM should instead focus on humane management options, such as fertility control, and work to achieve measurable results, not continue conducting calamitous roundups."

The groups noted that, although Nevada is the state where over half of the nation’s remaining wild horses reside, not a single wild horse protection organization in the state --  including those actively involved in humanely managing wild horses on the range -- was involved in developing the Cattlemen’s/HSUS plan.

Rounding up horses and burros is a highly stressful and dangerous experience for these animals. Injuries and deaths are not uncommon, and many horses will be separated from their families.

The plan places wild horses and burros at significant risk of slaughter. The proposal significantly increases the number of captive horses at federally run and financed facilities and will create a future fiscal crisis. If history repeats itself, this increase will provoke pro-slaughter lawmakers to call for mass slaughter and euthanasia as a matter of fiscal responsibility.    

As a humane and responsible alternative, stakeholders are instead calling for a step up in BLM-conducted fertility control programs, which allows horses to be managed humanely on the range. Proposed by U.S. Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), fertility control will eliminate the need for mass roundups and removals and spare taxpayers the need to finance long-term care, feeding, and leasing of land.

Click here to view the letter

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.

Animal Wellness Action (AWA) is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife. We advocate for policies to stop dogfighting and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to confront factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we promote enacting good public policies and we work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.

The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, that grew out of Executive Director Ginger Kathrens' knowledge and fear for wild horses in the West. TCF works to educate the public about the natural free-roaming behavior and social structure of wild horses and the threats to wild horse and burro society, to encourage the public to speak out for their protection on their home ranges and to support only humane management measures. Kathrens serves as the Humane Advisor on BLM’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board.