Have you ever heard a helicopter circling overhead? Even at a distance, the steady thunder of the blades incites a primal fear. It's a sound well known in war zones. Stand within yards of the landing zone, and you are overcome by the brute force of the machine as blasts of wind and overpowering noise fill the air.
Now, imagine not knowing what a "helicopter" is. You live peacefully in the high desert – a prey animal with acute senses. Then all at once, inexplicably, a relentless creature in the sky stalks, chases and pursues you as you stumble through the landscape in terror.
Each year, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, uses low flying helicopters to stampede and drive thousands of wild horses from their homes on our public lands.
In every roundup, terrified horses are separated from their family groups, loaded onto trailers and trucked to holding. Anxious mares call out to their foals, and stallions injure themselves trying to defend or reunite with their families. Some horses are killed or injured in the roundups.
Many more die in the holding pens after the capture operation is over. The majority of the survivors are condemned to spend their lives in captivity, far from their families and native grazing lands.
And now the pressure to sell these captured mustangs for slaughter is mounting. The lives of tens of thousands of these innocent and iconic animals are at stake.
Federal mismanagement of our nations wild horses has pushed these animals to the brink of disaster.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sets unnaturally low population limits for wild horses to maximize public land available for private, taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing.
The agency enforces these unscientific population limits with costly roundups and removals of large numbers of horses and burros from the range each year.
Captured horses are warehoused in holding facilities, where they cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually to feed even though these animals didn’t cost us a dime when they were grazing free on the range!.
Some ranchers see wild horses as competition for cheap forage on public lands. (Thanks to tax subsidies, ranchers pay grazing fees on public lands that are a fraction of market rate.)
But wild horses are only present on 17% of the BLM land grazed by livestock, and overall, cattle raised on public lands supply just 3 percent of America’s beef.
There’s plenty of room on the range for wild horses, and some ranchers – like Nevada’s Bently Ranch – are willing to share!
Three out of four Americans support protecting wild horses and burros on our public lands. Keeping Wild Horses Wild is in the public interest.
Better ways exist to humanely manage our wild horses and burros. We must advocate for humane and sane treatment of these national icons.