Five Things the Government Shutdown Could Mean for Wild Horses & Burros

(January 20, 2018) ... Late last night, the U.S. Senate failed to come to agreement on a Continuing Resolution to keep the government running, sparking a government shutdown. The duration of the shutdown is unknown, as Senators and House members meet todayin another attempt to reach an agreement.

Here are five ways that wild horses and burros could be affected.

#1. Wild horses and burros in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities will continue to be fed and cared for. The BLM has confirmed to AWHC that this is considered an essential government service that will continue during the shutdown. 

#2. Pending wild horse roundups – scheduled to start next week -- could be delayed or cancelled. That means that the 1,400 wild horses targeted for removal could enjoy a few more days - or weeks - of freedom on our public lands.

AWHC received word this morning that the pending round up of 100 horses from the Cold Springs/ Hog Creek Herd Management Areas in Oregon has been "suspended until further notice." No information yet on how the shutdown will impact the planned removal of 1,000 horses from Nevada's Triple B Complex, scheduled to start next week, or the 300-horse roundup, currently scheduled to begin on January 30 in Utah's Bible Springs Complex. 

#3.  Deadlines for public comments on various proposed actions related to federally protected wild horses and burros may be extended. This includes the roundup in Nevada’s Seaman/White River Herd Areas and a scoping period for the Forest Service’s plan to construct an on-range holding facility to facilitate the removal of as many as 2,000 wild horses from the Devils Garden Wild Horse Territory in California.

#4. Congress' decision on whether to grant the BLM's request to kill tens of thousands of wild horses and burros will be delayed – again. Even if the Congress comes to agreement to restart the government, it will do so under a Continuing Resolution that will keep the government running under the provisions of the 2017 omnibus spending bill. That’s good news for wild horses and burros, because the 2017 bill prohibits the BLM from destroying healthy wild horses and burros and from selling them for slaughter.

#5. Wild horse and burro advocates will have to remain ready to act … but at the right time.  Calls to Congress at this moment urging continued protections for wild horses and burros are likely to be lost in all the noise on Capitol Hill.

It’s unclear whether Congress will return to deliberating actual Fiscal Year 2018 spending legislation.  When and if it does, members will decide between the Senate Interior Appropriations bill (which prohibits killing and slaughter of wild horses and burros) and the House version (which allows for the destruction of healthy wild horses and burros, putting tens of thousands in danger of being killed). That will be the time to weigh in and ensure that the voice of 80 percent of Americans who oppose the killing and slaughter of America’s iconic mustangs and burros is heard.

So stay informed, stay ready and stay tuned!