WASHINGTON, DC (June 3, 2021) -- Today, actress and Utah resident Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy, Firefly Lane) sent letters to the U.S. Senate and House, urging Congress to take action to protect the famous Onaqui wild horse population in Utah. The letters ask Congress to urge the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to reconsider its plan to capture and remove most of the herd, which is supposed to be federally protected. Instead, Heigl says, the BLM should pursue a humane management proposal submitted by the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) and the conservation organization Western Watersheds Project (WWP).
As early as July 12, the BLM will begin a helicopter roundup and removal of over 80 percent of the wild horses from the Onaqui Mountain Herd Management Area (HMA) just southwest of Salt Lake City. The herd, which is currently managed on public lands using fertility control, is historically and culturally significant and is visited by tourists from all over the world.
“I stand with the overwhelming majority of Americans who support wild horse protection and oppose the BLM’s continuing “business as usual” practice of mass roundups and stockpiling of wild horses in off-range corrals for the rest of their lives,” said Heigl, co-founder of the animal advocacy foundation Jason Debus Heigl Foundation, in the letter. The actress also pointed to a recent New York Times piece which shows that mustangs removed from the range are ending up at slaughter.
“The American Wild Horse Campaign is grateful to Katherine for speaking up to save the iconic Onaqui wild mustangs, who are threatened by the BLM’s inhumane mass roundup and removal plan set to begin next month,” said Brieanah Schwartz, Director of Policy and Litigation for the AWHC. “It’s time for the Biden Administration to reject the previous Administration’s broken and fiscally-wreckless approach to wild horse management and instead embrace humane alternatives that keep these cherished animals healthy, wild and free on our Western public lands.”
In April, the AWHC and WWP submitted a proposal for the management of the Onaqui horses, focusing on the need to allow time -- just three more years -- for the PZP fertility program currently in place in the Onaqui HMA to stabilize population growth. The plan also emphasized the need for BLM to give wild horses a more equitable share of resources by decreasing commercial livestock grazing in their habitat, and asked that the entire Herd Management Area be open and accessible to the wild horses.
“Please join me and my fellow Americans in opposing the BLM plan to roundup and remove the majority of wild horses from the Onaqui HMA in Utah and direct the agency to pursue the reasonable, humane and fiscally responsible alternative that is on the table,” concluded Heigl in the letters to Congress.
Last week, Heigl joined the fight against the pending Onaqui roundup by posting a call to action to her more than 11 million followers on social media directed to the AWHC website, SaveOnaqui.com
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 and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America’s wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.