(April 22, 2019) The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) today issued the following statement in response to a proposal by cattlemen’s lobbying groups, the ASPCA, Humane Society of the U.S. and Return to Freedom, a California wild horse sanctuary, for the future management of America’s wild horses and burros.
As the nation’s largest wild horse preservation organization, we unequivocally oppose a plan by the cattlemen’s industry and two large humane organizations for the mass roundup and removal of America’s iconic wild horses and burros from our Western public lands. This plan is an irresponsible sell out of America’s wild horses and the 80 percent of Americans who want them protected in the wild.
By mandating the removal of a startling 15,000 - 20,000 wild horses per year, the plan will result in the reduction of America’s wild herds to extinction levels. In addition, the fiscally irresponsible and unscientific plan would more than double the number of wild horses in expensive government holding pens, with no long-term guarantees for their humane treatment or protection from slaughter.
The groups promoting this plan have agreed to support the livestock industry's agenda for wild horses by the BLM's vague promise to utilize undefined "population growth suppression" methods, some of which -- like surgical sterilization -- BLM has promoted despite scientific and animal welfare concerns. These groups do not represent the views of the vast majority of horse welfare organizations, over 100 of whom signed a 2017 Unified Statement of Principles opposing mass removals of wild horses from the range.
The American Wild Horse Campaign remains committed to our mission of keeping America’s wild horses wild and we will continue to vigorously fight for them and against misguided plans that will result in their harm or destruction.
The HSUS et al press release references support for strategic "gathers." The Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations language they are promoting on Capitol Hill states, "The funding provided for FY 2020 anticipates that 15,000-20,000 wild horses and burros shall be removed from the range and the BLM will implement mandatory on-range population growth suppression projects." Among the glaring problems with this language: the mass removal of horses to achieve the BLM's extinction level population limits, the doubling of the number of horses in holding pens/pastures without a guarantee for their long-term safety and welfare; and the lack of definition of population growth suppression projects - which in the BLM's hands means surgical sterilization and other inhumane methods that are not in accord with scientific recommendations and raise serious animal welfare concerns.
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse advocacy organization, dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment.