Congress Releases Omnibus Spending Bill that Includes New Measure Mandating Use of Birth Control to Manage Nation’s Federally-Protected Wild Horse Herds
WASHINGTON (March 9, 2022) — Today, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) commended the U.S. Congress for including an important bipartisan wild horse protection measure in the just-released Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations omnibus. The measure requires the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Wild Horse and Burro Program to utilize up to $11 million to implement a humane immunocontraceptive fertility control management program during the remaining months of FY22.
“We thank Congress for taking this critical first step toward humane management of our nation’s federally-protected wild horse herds, which is the best strategy to ultimately move away from unsustainable helicopter roundups,” said Holly Gann Bice, director of government relations of AWHC. “While we remain concerned about the overall support for the current unscientific and costly mass removal plan, Congress is finally requiring movement toward much-needed reform by mandating the use of humane fertility control vaccines.”
The legislative effort for humane management was supported by a strong bipartisan team of lawmakers led by U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen (D-Tenn) and Dina Titus (D-Nev) in the House and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate. According to AWHC, it marks the first time that Congress has directed the agency to utilize scientifically-proven fertility control, a management approach that will in the future result in fewer removals of wild horses from the wild.
AWHC also thanked Congress for including the long-standing anti-slaughter provisions, including a ban on the killing and slaughter of federally-protected wild horses and burros and language to defund USDA horse meat inspections, which effectively prevents horse slaughter plants from operating in the U.S.
The final bill also adopted important directives from the U.S. House Interior Appropriations report which requires:
- Evaluation of options for relocating wild horses and burros to different Herd Management Areas instead of removing them to government holding facilities.
- Review of the BLM’s controversial Adoption Incentive Program, strengthening adoption and sale contractual language, and addressing any program weaknesses that jeopardize the welfare of wild horses and burros placed into private care.
- Creation of public-private partnerships.
At the same time, the organization expressed disappointment that the bill provides increased
funding for roundups and removal, a total of $21 million increase over the FY21 budget, though AWHC is pleased that Congress ultimately appropriated significantly less funding than the amount that was provided in the original FY22 House and Senate bills, and less than the $35 million that was requested by the Administration. Wild horses are blamed for land degradation despite a recent report showing that commercial livestock is the major environmental threat within the 12% of public lands designated as wild horse habitat.
The language also creates an interagency task force, and AWHC urges the Administration to conduct a transparent process that avoids focusing on wild horses in isolation from the much larger environmental issues facing public lands, including commercial livestock grazing.
Last month, renewed attention to BLM wild horse roundups sparked by incidents of cruel treatment prompted Congresswoman Titus to introduce the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act to ban the use of helicopters to capture these animals. Recent polling shows 3 in 4 Americans oppose helicopter roundups and 88% of Americans, on a strong bipartisan basis, want wild horses and burros protected.
About the American Wild Horse Campaign
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.