National Coalition Reacts to Nevada BLM Advisory Committee Recommendation to Sell Federally Protected Wild Horses for Slaughter

Elko, NV (February 7, 2014) …. Today, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition, responded strongly to yesterday’s recommendation by the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Nevada Tri-Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) that the agency sell federally-protected wild horses “without limitation,” which means for slaughter.

“BLM Resource Advisory Committees are dominated by ranching interests and they spend considerable time discussing wild horse issues and calling for slaughter as a so-called ‘solution,’” said Deniz Bolbol, AWHPC spokesperson. “Slaughtering America’s wild horses is not supported by the American public. Poll after poll has shown the American public supports protecting wild horses and burros on public lands, and that Americans do not support the slaughtering of horses.”

“Instead of focusing on slaughter, why don’t we work together on a fertility control program, to humanely manage horses on the range and stop the mass roundup and removal of these iconic animals from our public lands?” Bolbol concluded.  

According to AWHPC, ranchers view wild horses as competiton for cheap, tax-subsidized grazing on public land. But polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose horse slaughter American and support protecting wild horses and burros on public lands. By contrast, just 29 percent of Americans want our public lands used for livestock grazing.”

AWHPC also charged BLM with deliberately failing to use available fertility control in order to force a crisis that leads to the slaughter of wild horses. In doing so, the BLM is ignoring the June 2013 findings of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review of the federal wild horse and burro program. The NAS found that:

  • “Removals are likely to keep the population at a size that maximizes population growth rate, which in turn maximizes the number of animals that must be removed and processed through holding facilities.” (P. 94)
  • “Tools [including PZP fertility control] already exist for BLM to address many challenges.” (p. 13) (P. 303 confirms that BLM is not using PZP in a manner that will impact population growth.)
  •  “… addressing the problem immediately with a long-term view is probably a more affordable option than continuing to remove horses to long-term holding facilities. (p. 13-14)

AWHPC also took issue with BLM’s statements that there are more wild horses out there than the range can withstand, pointing to the NAS finding that the BLM estimates for the “appropriate” number of wild horses for the range had no basis in science:

  • “The committee could not identify a science-based rationale used by BLM to allocate forage and habitat resources to various uses within the constraints of protecting rangeland health and listed species and given the multiple-use mandate.” (p. 303)
  • “How Appropriate Management Levels (AMLs) are established, monitored, and adjusted is not transparent to stakeholders, supported by scientific information, or amenable to adaptation with new information and environmental and social change. Standards for transparency, quality and equity are needed in establishing these levels, monitoring them and adjusting them.” (p. 12)

“As we all know, the number of wild horses pales in comparison to the millions of cattle and sheep who are permitted to graze on our public lands,” Bolbol concluded. “The RACs are attempting to scapegoat wild horses and divert attention away from the destruction of our public lands by massive livestock grazing.”

Bolbol said that within Herd Management Areas (HMAs), the BLM allocates over 82 percent of forage to privately-owned livestock and less than 18 percent of forage to federally-protected wild horses.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. AWHPC’s founding organization, Return to Freedom, a national non-profit dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education and conservation, also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA. 

View Slides from BLM's Tri-RAC presentation on the wild horse and burro program here