The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) submitted its annual request for funding to Congress this week, which included a multi-year plan to stop the increase of the wild horse and burro populations on the American frontier.
That plan, however, is receiving widespread backlash for the "painful mass surgical sterilization of thousands of wild mares," as American Wellness Action and the American Wild Horse Campaign highlighted in a joint press release on May 13.
The AWA and AWHC's statement called BLM's funding request "the direct result of a backroom deal" made between Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Humane Society Legislative Fund, ASPCA, American Mustang Foundation, Return to Freedom, and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, among others.
BLM oversees the wild horse population in the western United States. The organization's goal is to reach an Appropriate Management Level (AML) to effectively control these animals so ranchers and the like do not see public lands harmed by an overpopulation. (BLM used negative impacts of overgrazing in Antelope Valley, Nevada, in its report as an example.)
However, BLM's proposal appears anything but humane.
BLM's Wild Horse Roundup Plan
Using helicopter and bait-trapping methods, the organization plans to gather between 20,000 and 30,000 animals every year to "either remove them permanently from public rangelands or return them after application of some form of long-term temporary or permanent fertility control."
Approximately 90 percent of mares must be treated to control populations. It's estimated that 81,951 wild horses and burros roam federal lands, nearly three times the ideal AML of 26,690.
Suzanne Roy, executive director of the AWHC, said via press release, "the agency is setting the stage for the ultimate slaughter of these American icons."
BLM estimates between 15 and 18 years are needed before the AML can be reached. BLM believes costs for this plan could increase to $360 million annually from American taxpayers before they decline.
Marty Irby, the executive director at Animal Wellness Action, is among the plan's biggest critics:
"The Humane Society and ASPCA devised a reckless plot to put the fate of our iconic American wild horses and burros in the hands of BLM leaders intent on mass roundups and draconian surgical sterilization. Now, with BLM's report to Congress, we see the gory details: a plan to depopulate wild horses and burros setting up a longer-term play to allow their mass slaughter. These animal lobbying groups have sentenced our mustangs to a lengthy round of hellish treatment, and Congress should not waste one more taxpayer dollar on this scheme."
BLM offers an adoption program where wild horses and burros can be taken in, but the organization says only between 2,000 and 4,000 adoptions took place in the past five years.
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