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Interior Department Rejects Cost-Effective Management Alternative; Targets Nearly 4,000 Mustangs for Removal from Public Lands by End of Fiscal Year
Washington, DC- Today a national coalition of conservation and horse advocacy organizations expressed dismay at the Interior Department Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) announcement that it will remove 3,747 wild horses from public lands in the West between July 1 and September 30, 2011.
The mustangs will be captured in roundups that stampede the animals – including very young foals and heavily pregnant mares – by helicopter in hot and dry desert conditions. The majority of the mustangs who survive the capture operation will be maintained for life in government holding facilities. The BLM now warehouses more than 42,000 wild horses in taxpayer-funded pens and pastures, a number that far exceeds the estimated 33,000 wild horses that remain free on the range.
“The BLM faces no on-the-range crisis to justify the mass removal of wild horses, but it is facing an off-the-range fiscal crisis that continues to worsen as the agency stockpiles more and more mustangs in holding facilities,” said American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) spokesperson Suzanne Roy. “The BLM’s plan to remove nearly 4,000 wild horses from the West over the next three months perpetuates a broken cycle that is bankrupting the American taxpayer and devastating America’s remaining wild horse herds."
Instead of removing horses from the range and sending them to taxpayer-funded holding facilities, AWHPC says that the BLM should be treating horses with a proven fertility control vaccine and releasing them back to the wild, where taxpayers do not have to pay to house and feed them.
The vaccine, known as Porcine Zona Pellucida, or PZP, has minimal impacts on the mustangs’ natural behaviors but is successful in controlling population numbers. The Humane Society of the United States has developed an economic model that demonstrates the viability of this approach, including significant cost-savings for American taxpayers.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Supported by a coalition of over 40 organizations, its grassroots campaign seeks:
* A suspension of roundups in all but verifiable emergency situations while the entire BLM wild horse program undergoes objective and scientific review;
* Higher Appropriate Management Levels (AML) for wild horses on those rangelands designated for them;
* Implementation of in-the-wild management, which would keep wild horses on the range and save taxpayers millions annually by avoiding the mass removal and stockpiling wild horses in government holding facilities