Colorado Congressman Defends Wild Horses on U.S. House Floor

July 14, 2016

Last night, just after midnight on the floor of the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) rose to defend America’s wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) dangerous and destructive mass sterilization plans.

Congressman Polis stated:


Wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbol of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West. My amendment will help to prevent the BLM management from destroying this iconic symbol using funds allocated in this bill to be used for surg sterilization of horses.


What distinguishes America’s wild horses from their domestic counterparts is their natural behaviors and their complex social organization. Surgical sterilization will take the “wild” out of wild horses by removing the horses’ ability to produce the reproductive hormones that drive their natural behavior. It will turn them into little more than pasture horses, destroying the complex social organization and inalterably changing the free-roaming behaviors that Congress sought to protect when we passed the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971….


The way surgical sterilization is conducted in wild horses simply cruel…


Scientists believe that this mass sterilization program could essentially lead to the end of wild horses and burros in the West….


These kind of procedures destroy the wild nature of wild horses. They are a waste of taxpayer money and they are inhumane….


Rep. Polis spoke in favor of using the PZP fertility control vaccine as a proven alternative to inhumane surgical sterilization methods. He closed by referencing the overwhelming public opposition to these cruel methods, as evidenced by the more than 20,000 public comments (submitted by AWHPC supporters and other members of the public) in opposition to the BLM’s gruesome mare sterilization research that is set to take place in Oregon.


Rep. Polis’ statement was made during floor debate on the 2017 Interior Appropriations Bill. In response, the chair of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), agreed to work together going forward on humane solutions for wild horses and burro management.


AWHPC is grateful to Rep. Polis for standing up for America’s wild horses and burros and taking a leadership role in the fight to secure sane and humane management of our wild herds. We are also grateful to Chairman Calvert for his continued opposition to slaughter of wild horses and burros and his willingness to work in a bipartisan manner toward humane and socially acceptable solutions.


The House voted to approve the 2017 Interior Appropriations bill. We remain deeply concerned about this bill, because it contains dangerous language that would allow the BLM to “immediately” transfer wild horses and burros to state, local and other federal agencies ostensibly for use as “work animals.” The provision would allow states and local governments to kill wild horses and burros for non-commercial purposes, and a provision intended to prevent commercial slaughter is insufficient because it contains no enforcement mechanism. Fortunately, it is widely believed that Interior Appropriations legislation will not pass the full Congress and that an Omnibus Spending Bill will be negotiated after the election. This gives us us another opportunity to address the concerning language, which we view as the most serious assault on the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in more than a decade.


We’ll continue to work with Rep. Polis’ office and other key members of Congress to educate and advocate for America’s wild horses and burros and defend against legislative initiatives that could lead to the mass sterilization and slaughter of our wild herds.


Please stay tuned.