Wild horses have long been an evocative symbol of the American West. When wild horses and burros were threatened with extinction nearly 50 years ago, Congress rode to the rescue with a law providing broad protections.
Horse numbers have soared, however, along with government costs to manage the herds. And the animals increasingly compete with privately owned livestock for food and water on public lands—a conflict worsened by climate change. There is broad agreement that something has to give.
Even so, animal welfare groups have bristled at measures taken and being considered by the Bureau of Land Management, the branch of the Interior Department that oversees an immense swath of western public lands. The bureau recently eased limits on sales of captured horses to private parties, raising fears about the animals possibly being funneled to slaughterhouses to become food for pets and people. And although the BLM is currently barred from killing horses to control their numbers, the agency raised euthanasia as an option in a recent report to Congress.
Wildlife advocates instead are pushing measures they see as more humane, such as expanding an existing contraception program, reducing acreage available for grazing and mining and allowing more wild horses on public lands…..
the rest of the article can be found at Fair Warning.
………. In addition, mining projects are destroying rangelands. John Hadder, director of the environmental group Great Basin Resource Watch, cited planned mining ventures in Nevada as having the potential to ‘’obliterate’’ wild horse habitat.
But advocates such as Laura Leigh, president of Wild Horse Education, say overgrazing by livestock is mostly to blame for rangeland destruction. These advocates note that cattle and sheep far outnumber wild horses and are allowed on nearly six times as much public land. Their argument is backed up by a 2016 Government Accountability Office report that found that federal field staffers have underreported unauthorized livestock grazing.
Leigh’s view is similar. “Unless we address the larger problems, livestock and mining, efforts like fertility control or roundups will never fix anything,” she said.
Nevertheless, many ranchers and some experts are calling for the government to move swiftly to thin the herds. “We’re running out of time,” said Terry Messmer, director of Utah State University’s Berryman Institute, which publishes a scientific journal called Human-Wildlife Interactions. Because of the proliferating numbers—herds can double in size within four to five years— a quick fix is needed, and options like slaughter should at least be considered, Messmer said.
check out our new website at PublicHorses.org
Wild Horse Education is opposed to slaughter, domestic or wild. More from us soon on the fight to stop America’s horses from being used as a pawn in the slaughter and legislative game.
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(note: many orgs will copy and paste full articles, even if they are not in them, and place them on their websites. They do this to increase their “Google” algorithms. At WHE it is our policy not to do that, it’s not ethical. We have chosen some highlights from the article relevant to our work and placed them above.)
Categories: Wild Horse Education