BLM’s 2017 Budget Opens Door for Wild Horse Slaughter & Sterilization

Washington, DC (February 11, 2016) … The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is calling foul on the Bureau of Land Management’s just-released 2017 budget proposal, which includes a provision that would strip wild horses of the legal status that currently protects them from being sent to slaughter. This is a marked departure from President Obama’s position of safeguarding wild horses from possible slaughter.

The provision at issue would make wild horses available for transfer to state and local authorities, many of which have publicly called for the wholesale slaughter of these cherished American icons. Once transferred, the horses would lose their protected “wild status,” meaning that state and local authorities could sell them for slaughter.

 “The proposed 2017 budget opens the door to slaughtering America’s magnificent wild horses by essentially laundering the horses through state and local authorities,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHPC. “This is an end run around Congressional prohibitions and the will of the people, who strongly support protecting America’s cherished wild horses on public lands in the West.”

The BLM’s “2017 Budget in Brief” also indicates that agency will pursue highly controversial spaying and gelding (castrating) of wild horses in direct contradiction to recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences for improvements to the BLM wild horse program. Experts state that spaying and gelding wild horses will strip them of their natural free-roaming behaviors, which are the essence of what makes them wild and distinguishes them from domestic horses.

Recently, 21,000 citizens weighed In with public comments against the agency’s plan to conduct dangerous and invasive sterilization experiments on wild mares held at the BLM’s corrals near Burns, Oregon. The commenters demanded that BLM utilize an available, humane and scientifically proven wildlife contraception vaccine as an alternative to invasive and risky sterilization procedures.

 “The BLM is taking the wild horse program in an increasingly dangerous direction that is directly counter to scientific recommendations and the wishes of the American public,” continued Roy. “We need leadership from Congress to stop federal mismanagement of the wild horse and burro program and bring it in line with good science and the will of the people.”

AWHPC also challenged the Administration’s claim regarding the “unsustainable proliferation of wild horses and burros on public lands,” noting that these animals are present on just 12 percent of federal rangelands, and are vastly outnumbered by cattle and sheep.

AWHPC noted that national opinion polls show the vast majority of Americans oppose horse slaughter and support protecting wild horses on public lands.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is a national organization dedicated to preserving America’s iconic wild horses and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. AWHPC’s mission and grassroots advocacy efforts are endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.

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President's Interior budget request Section 110 states, “... the Secretary of the Interior may transfer excess wild horses or burros that have been removed from the public lands to other Federal, State, and local government agencies for use as work animals…[and] … That any excess animal transferred under this provision shall lose its status as a wild free-roaming horse or burro as defined in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act…”

BLM Budget in Brief: “The BLM will also continue expanding the use of contraceptives and the application of spay and neuter to begin to reduce program costs and help the unsustainable proliferation of wild horses and burros on public lands.”

The National Academy of Sciences, 2013 report “Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burros Program: A Way Forward” stated:

A potential disadvantage of both surgical and chemical castration is loss of testosterone and consequent reduction in or complete loss of male-type behaviors necessary for maintenance of social organization, band integrity, and expression of a natural behavior repertoire. p. 142

The possibility that ovariectomy [spaying] may be followed by prolonged bleeding or peritoneal infection makes it inadvisable for field application. p. 130