Tens of Thousands of Citizens Oppose Massive Oregon Mustang Roundup

Photo of Oregon Wild Horses by BLM

Prineville, Oregon (October 27, 2015) . . . As the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reels from the recent confirmation that it illegally sold 1,794 federally protected wild horses for slaughter, tens of thousands of citizens are urging the agency to nix plans to remove 1,500 more mustangs from the range in Oregon at a roundup scheduled to begin next week.    

On Tuesday, October 27, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) presented a petition signed by nearly 20,000 citizens opposing the BLM’s plans to conduct a massive helicopter roundup of wild horses living in the Beatys Butte Herd Management Area (HMA) in southeastern Oregon. The petitions were delivered to the simultaneous meetings of of the BLM’s Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) and the John Day-Snake RAC during the public comment periods for both meetings.

Marika Ruppe, representing the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, and Gayle Hunt of the Central Oregon Wild Horse Coalition, an AWHPC coalition partner, presented the petition at each of the RAC meetings, which took place at the BLM Office in Prineville, Oregon.

“We’re attending this meeting to ensure that the voice of the American public is heard,” said Suzanne Roy, AWHPC Director, who noted the tens of thousands of petition signatures were collected in just ten days. “The American public is outraged over the illegal sale of our protected mustangs for slaughter and outraged at the BLM’s plans to round up thousands more of these iconic animals. The BLM already stockpiles 50,000 captured mustangs who are in grave danger of being sold for slaughter.”

According to AWHPC, the roundup is being conducted to appease the Beatys Butte Grazing Association, whose members receive taxpayer subsidies to graze livestock on public lands in the HMA. The petition asks the BLM to cancel the Beatys Butte roundup, implement a humane fertility control program to control and reduce wild horse population numbers over time, and develop a mechanism to allow ranchers to be compensated for voluntary relinquishment of grazing permits within the HMA.

“Wild horses and burros are present on less than one fifth (just 19%) of the BLM land in Oregon that is grazed by livestock,” the petition states. “Therefore, conflicts between private livestock grazing and wild horses and burros foraging on public lands in Oregon can and should be resolved in a way that does not decimate our few remaining wild horse and burro herds.”

In the Beatys Butte HMA, the BLM allows only 100-250 wild horses to live on 437,210 acres of public land – that’s one horse per over 1,700 acres of land. By contrast, the agency authorizes approximately ten times that number of private livestock to graze the public lands in the HMA.  Statewide, fewer than 4,500 wild horses remain on 2.7 million acres of public land in the state, while 30 times that number of cattle are authorized to graze 13.7 million acres of BLM land in Oregon.

On Friday, the Interior Department Office of Inspector General released the results of an investigation that found BLM illegally sold more than 1,700 wild horses to a Colorado rancher who sold the horses for slaughter in Mexico. Current law prohibits the BLM from destroying healthy wild horses and from selling wild horses to anyone who intends to sell them to slaughter. However, the BLM has recently indicated that it will seek to overturn the Congressional slaughter ban.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHPC’s mission to preserve and protect wild horses and burros in viable free-roaming herds on public lands for generations to come is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.

Photo at left: Marika Ruppe delivering over 19k signatures to the BLM Oregon RAC

Media Coverage:

Wild Horse Advocates Challenge BLM Roundup Plan