Washington, DC (May 25, 2017) ...The Trump Administration budget detail, released today, reveals that the Interior Department is planning to sell thousands of wild horses to slaughter to achieve minor budget cuts. Meanwhile the agency plans to cut funding for fertility control - the only humane, scientifically recommended and humane management tool available for managing federally-protected wild horse and burro herds.
“The BLM wants to slaughter thousands of iconic wild horses by selling them to kill buyers to save $4 million and cover up its gross mismanagement and incompetence in managing the federal wild horse and burro program,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHC), the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization.
“The agency also wants to drive wild horse and burro population levels down to near extinction levels, based on arbitrary population limits that the National Academy of Sciences has criticized as having ‘no-science based rationale.’” Roy continued. “This outrageous and lethal budget is completely counter to the will of the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose horse slaughter and support protecting mustangs and burros on our Western public lands.”
AWHC is calling on Congress to reject the Administration’s request to overturn a ban on slaughtering federally-protected wild horses and burros and instead direct the agency to follow the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences to implement scientifically proven fertility control to humanely manage wild horses and burros on the range.
“We call on Congress and to stand firm against the mass killing of these American heritage animals, and we call on President Trump to force his Interior Department to change course,” Roy concluded. “America can’t be great again if our national symbols of freedom are destroyed.”
What the budget request states: “The budget proposes to eliminate appropriations language restricting the BLM from using all of the management options authorized in the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. An estimated $4.0 million of the $10.0 reduction will be achieved through savings resulting from unrestricted sales. The remainder of the funding decrease will be achieved by reducing gathers, reducing birth control treatments, and other activities. The long-term goal is to realign program costs and animal populations to more manageable levels, enabling the BLM to reorient the WH&B program back to these traditional management strategies.”
According to AWHC, the traditional management strategies the Administration is referencing rely on roundups and removals to manage wild herds, an approach that was strongly criticized by the National Academy of Sciences in its 2013 report, “Using Science to Improve the Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward.” That report warned that “continuation of BLM’s business as usual practices will be expensive and unproductive for the BLM and the public it serves.
The BLM has ignored the findings of this report, which the agency itself commissioned and paid for, and instead wants to turn back the clock fifty years to a time when ranchers rounded up mustangs by the thousands and sold for slaughter.
The agency’s plan to reduce the U.S. wild horse and burro population to the agency’s unscientific population limit of just 26,700 could mean the removal as many as 46,000 wild horses and burros – or 63% of the existing population – from their homes on the range. This could result in the slaughter of tens of thousands more horses and would drive population numbers down to the “fast disappearing” level that prompted Congress to unanimously pass a law to protect these legacy animals in 1971.
According to AWHC, polls show that nearly 3 in 4 Americans support protecting wild horses and burros on public lands and 80 percent – including 83 percent of Westerners – oppose horse slaughter.
The BLM's full budget justification can be found here.
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.