(July 16, 2019) The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) today issued the following statement in response to the Public lands, Forest and Mining subcommittee hearing on the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.
Today’s hearing was stacked with lobbyists for the cattle industry and against the interest of wild horses and the public that wants them protected. The witnesses touted a plan that gives BLM permission to rip out the ovaries of wild mares and conduct unprecedented mass roundups. Unlimited roundups means more mustangs in captivity and more tax dollars needed to feed them -- setting aside for the moment the fact that the wild free-roaming horses protected by federal law will no longer be wild or free.
The cattle industry advocates know that the mass killing and slaughter of wild horses and burros is already off the table due to massive public opposition. Their new idea is round up horses, warehouse them in holding pens and sterilize the animals that remain in the wild. Down the road, they will complain that caring for wild horses in captivity is too expensive, so they will seek permission to "euthanize" them. They are not abandoning lethal solutions, they’re just delaying them.
We support the call for increased funding for use of the only available safe and humane population control method -- the PZP fertility control vaccine. For fiscal and humane reasons, we reject the push for mass removals and call instead for holistic solutions that protect these national icons on Western public lands as Congress intended. Solutions include re-evaluating the BLM’s artificially low, unscientific wild horse population limits and exploring options to reduce livestock grazing on the small amount of public lands where wild horses are allowed to live. Finally, wild horse and burro ecological impacts cannot be examined in isolation; the larger footprint and ecological and economic impacts of livestock grazing in wild horse habitat areas must also be considered.
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 in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.