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Budget Request Seeks Approval from Congress to Kill Nearly 100,000 Wild Horses & Burros, Setting Stage for Near Extinction of Mustangs from the West

Washington, DC (May 23, 2017)…  The nation’s leading wild horse protection organization is calling on President Donald J. Trump to intervene to save America’s historic and beloved mustangs in the face of his Interior Department’s budget, released today, which seeks Congressional authorization to use “management tools,” including the mass killing and slaughter of these federally-protected national icons.                     

“The Bureau of Land Management is asking Congress to give the green light for the brutal slaughter of nearly 100,000 mustangs and burros – both in holding and on the range -- and to set the stage for the virtual extinction of these national icons from the West,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Campaign.  “This lethal budget is wildly out of step with the wishes of the American people, and the American public will not stand for this travesty.”

Polls show that 3 in 4 Americans want wild horses protected on our public lands and 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter

“President Trump promised to return government to the people, and we trust that he meant it,” Roy continued. “Now we call on him to respect the will of the people by intervening to save America’s mustangs. America can’t be great if these national symbols of freedom are destroyed.”

Every year, the BLM uses helicopters to roundup and remove thousands of federally-protected wild horses and burros from their homes on our public lands each year to make room for taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing. The agency has removed so many mustangs from public lands that it currently maintains 46,000 captured wild horses and burros in government holding facilities. It wrongly asserts that an additional 46,000 wild horses and burros are “excess” on the range. Both horses in holding and those considered to be “excess” on the range  would be killed en masse, if Congress were to grant the BLM’s budget request.

“The BLM’s budget request to Congress places the lives of nearly 100,000 federally-protected wild horses and burros in jeopardy,” Roy concluded. “These innocent and publicly-cherished animals should not pay the ultimate price for the federal government’s gross mismanagement and trampling of science and the will of the American people to protect these national legacy animals.”

Science firmly contradicts the BLM assertions that no humane management tools are available and that there are three times more wild horses than the land can sustain, AWHC says, referencing the 2013 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review of the federal wild horse and burro program.

·      While the agency claims that there are three times wild horses and burros than the land can sustain, the NAS “could not identify a science-based rationale” for the agency population limits.

·      Although the BLM says it has no alternative management tools, the NAS concluded “tools exist for BLM to address many challenges.”

The primary available tool recommended by the NAS is the PZP birth control vaccine, which has proven safe, effective and economical in humanely reducing reproductive rates on the range. Yet the agency has refused to use it in more than a token manner, opting instead for costly and cruel helicopter roundups. 

The BLM budget request asks Congress to lift the ban on killing or selling healthy wild horses and burros for slaughter. It also calls for reducing roundups (gathers) and fertility control, suggesting that the agency intends to slaughter massive numbers of wild horses and burros on the range as well as in holding.

AWHC vowed to vigorously oppose this lethal budget request and will continue to press the Administration and Congress to protect and humanely manage America’s wild horse and burro populations in accordance with a unanimously passed Act of Congress and the will of the American people.

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) (formerly known as the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign) is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Its grassroots mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, humane and public interest organizations.