Majority of Americans Want Wild Horses Protected, National Poll Reveals

Carole King, Ali MacGraw, Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Wendie Malick, Betty White, Noah Wylie and Others Speak Up for America’s Mustangs in Appeal to New Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

Just as the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is scheduled to release to the media a report on its review of the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program, the American Wild Horse Preservation (AWHPC) and its parent organization Return to Freedom (RTF) are making public a national poll that tested, for the first time, the perceptions of Americans about wild horses and the federal program that manages them in the West.

The poll found that a majority of Americans want wild horses protected and that support cuts across party and gender lines. The poll also documented public support for repeal of a law that allows the government to sell wild horses for slaughter and public dissatisfaction with current management practices. These practices include rounding up thousands of wild horses annually from the range and warehousing them in government holding facilities at taxpayer expense. Presently the BLM warehouses 50,000 wild horses and burros in holding facilities while fewer than 38,000 remain on the range.

Specifically the poll found:

  • 72 percent of Americans favor protecting wild horses as “living symbols of the history and pioneer spirit of the West."
  • 66 percent think the BLM’s approach to wild horse management is an inefficient use of tax dollars. (Only 8% thought it was an efficient use of tax dollars.)
  • 62 percent believe the program is not being managed effectively. (Only 7% thought the program was managed effectively.)
  • 62 percent support the repeal of the law that allows the BLM to sell wild horses for slaughter. (Only 13% supported slaughtering wild horses.)

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, surveyed 1,247 registered voters nationwide from March 27-30, 2013.

The results come as Return to Freedom, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, and allies on Capitol Hill – led by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva -- collect signatures on an open letter to the new Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell. The letter asks Jewell to take action to ensure that BLM policy reflects the will of the American people to protect wild horses and burros on the range where they belong.

The "Step In, Sally" initiative already has been signed by tens of thousands of Americans including the following high profile celebrities: Robert Redford, Carole King, Ali MacGraw, Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Noah Wylie, Wendie Malick, Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Laura San Giacomo, Ricky Schroeder, Rae Dawn Chong, David Franzoni (screenwriter; Amistad, Gladiator), Robert Knott (screenwriter, Appaloosa).

Coalition partners signing the letter include the Animal Welfare Institute, The Cloud Foundation, Monero Mustangs, Wild Horse Observers Association, Pregnant Mare Rescue, American Horse Defense Fund/Save Our Wild Horses, Animal Law Coalition, Friends of A Legacy (F.O.A.L.), Equine Tourism UK, Horse of the Americas, Equine Tourism UK, Horse of the Americas, In Defense of Animals, Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Wild Horse Preservation League, In Defense of Animals, Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Wild Horse Preservation League, DreamCatcher Wild Horse Rescue, International Fund for Horses.

“Forty years ago, the Wild Horse and Burro Act was passed because Americans spoke out loudly for their protection and preservation on public lands,” said Neda DeMayo, President of RTF. “Today Americans are speaking out again. We recognize that the BLM is facing many challenges. However, the current program is forcing a crisis, threatening the survival of wild horses and burros on their rangelands. We’re honored that so many prominent individuals support this important effort at this critical time.”

“These poll results confirm that Americans want to keep wild horses wild and oppose the federal government’s roundup and warehousing of these iconic animals,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC director. "We’re appealing to Secretary Jewell because leadership from the top is necessary to respond to the public’s call for change.”