CALL FOR INVESTIGATION/ IMMEDIATE EXPERT INTERVENTION TO PREVENT FURTHER DEATHS
UPDATE: At the August 25, 2014 BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting, agency officials acknowledged that the death toll for mares relocated from the long-term holding pasture had exceeded 80 and that the cause of death was believed to be age of the animals combined with trauma and stress associated with transport and relocation, feedlot conditions and change in feed.
Washington, DC (August 20, 2014). . .The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) , a national coalition and its parent organization Return to Freedom (RTF) today called for an independent investigation of the deaths of at least 75 wild horses at a feedlot in Kansas. The formerly wild mustangs were transported to a feedlot from a long-term holding pasture, which declined to renew its contract with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to house captured horses.
AWHPC and RTF called for an immediate inspection and evaluation of the feedlot where the remaining 1,415 horses are being held. BLM attributed the deaths of the horses to age, stress, crowding and changes in feed. The feedlot owner characterized the deaths as “not a big deal.”
“It’s outrageous that the BLM did not ensure proper conditions for these horses, who once ranged wild and free on our public lands, and entrusted these national icons in the care of someone who regards 75 deaths as ‘not a big deal,’ “ said Suzanne Roy, director of the AWHPC. “The BLM’s treatment of wild horses is inhumane and far below the standard that Americans expect and demand for these federally protected and iconic animals.”
“The tragic deaths of these horses are the expensive and needless results of the brutal and unsustainable federal wild program,” said Neda DeMayo, founder and president of Return to Freedom. “This is unacceptable when there are effective, responsible and humane alternatives available to keep wild horses wild on the range, but the BLM consistently refuses to implement them.”
RTF and AWHPC said that many of the AWHPC coalition supporters have extensive experience managing wild horses in a captive setting and urged the BLM to empanel a team of experts – including those from wild horse sanctuaries and advocacy organizations – to immediately tour the facility, evaluate the situation and make recommendations to ensure the safety of the surviving horses. Further, they called for an independent investigation of the deaths and an independent review on the lack of transparency and evaluation of the conditions of the more than 30,000 wild horses currently warehoused in long-term holding facilities which are closed to the public.
The wild horses in question were rounded up by helicopter from public lands in the West and stripped of their freedom and families. After being held for several years in feedlot pens, they were trucked off to holding pastures in the Midwest, only to be rounded up and sentenced again to feedlot-like conditions.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 50 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 is a campaign founded and sponsored by Return to Freedom.