Wild horse cull is just another Internet rumor run amok.
It doesn't take much to rile the Internet into a frenzy these days, especially when it comes to animals. In this case, outrage broke out after an advisory panel made a suggestion to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management calling for a large number of wild horses and burros to be euthanized on lands across the western U.S.
The suggestion was made last Friday by the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, which, according to MSN, suggested selling animals to companies for slaughter for meat, or euthanizing animals considered to be un-adoptable. The idea came up because the Bureau of Land Management cares for huge numbers of wild horses and burros at significant cost to the agency.
Because wild horses and burros have no natural predators, they run around largely unchecked, and it is increasingly difficult to find people willing to adopt them. Upkeep isn't cheap; MSN reports that the bureau spends $50 million a year to take care of these animals.
Even though the idea was only a suggestion, the Internet went nuts. Stories quickly circulated, stating the government has just made plans to "kill 45,000 wild horses." Some even claimed that the decision was made to make room for cattle grazing.
A petition on Change.org has racked up 135,000 signatures to protest the idea, even though the BLM has not committed to anything. The outrage pushed the Bureau of Land Management to release statements to clarify that point.
"The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board is an independent panel comprised of members of the public that make recommendations to the Bureau of Land Management regarding its management of wild horses and burros. The BLM is committed to having healthy horses on healthy rangelands. We will continue to care for and seek good homes for animals that have been removed from the range. Currently, there are more than 67,000 wild horses and burros on public rangelands, and the BLM is caring for nearly 50,000 animals in off-range corrals and pastures," reads the statement on the BLM website.
Bureau spokesman Tom Gorey also confirmed in an email to MSN that BLM has no plans to kill or sell any horses or burros for slaughter.
The Humane Society's wild horse and burro program manager, Gillian Lyons, told MSN people were quick to judge. "It's something the American public just doesn't know about, you don't think of wild horses being held in facilities all across the United States," she said.
The government would like to keep the number of wild horses and burros around 27,000 animals.
The bureau will make a formal response to the suggestion at its next meeting, but for now, it seems this is just another classic case of the Internet over-reacting.