PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -
Advocates of Arizona’s wild horses delivered on Wednesday a 300,000-signature petition to Sen. Jeff Flake's office in Phoenix, opposing the mass killing of federally protected horses and burros across the U.S.
The Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and its partner, the American Wild Horse Campaign, are urging the senator to oppose the Bureau of Land Management’s 2018 budget.
This financial plan asks Congress to give the bureau permission to kill wild horses and burros and sell the animals for slaughter, according to the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group. The Senate will be reviewing the BLM’s 2018 budget this month.
Sen. Flake is known for supporting the protection of the Salt River wild horses, and he is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee within the Senate.
“There is an amendment, called the Stewart Amendment in a 2018 appropriations bill, and that amendment will allow for the killing and slaughter of healthy, American wild horses,” says Simone Netherlands, the president of the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group and spokeswoman of the American Wild Horse Campaign.
The Stewart Amendment was introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), and according to his website, the legislation would, "give states and Indian Tribes the option to take over the management of wild horses and burros." Stewart argues that every state faces its own challenges with horse and burro populations, and that it would give each state the ability to manage their own wildlife.
“There are legislators that want to push that agenda through, and they are claiming that wild horses are starving which is absolutely absurd. They are claiming that there is an overpopulation of wild horses, which is also not true, because we actually have very few of them left,” Netherlands said.
According to Netherlands, there are 60,000 wild horses in the country. She added that when the big horned sheep population was at the same number, they were considered a species of concern.
But according to BLM, there are more than 72,000 wild horses on U.S. rangeland and it can only sustain fewer than 27,000. There are about 46,000 in holding facilities.
The American Wild Horse Campaign posted an informational graphic on their website concerning the interactions BLM has with wild animals.