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In 1971, Congress passed the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, declaring that, "wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands."
Since that time, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency charged with protecting wild horses and burros, has removed nearly 300,000 of these animals from their homes on our western public lands, and has "zeroed out" wild horses and burros from over 20 million acres of public land designated by Congress as habitat for these animals. The BLM, beholden to the livestock industry, removes wild horses and burros from public lands to make room for taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing. Although wild horses and burros are restricted to just 11 percent of BLM lands, the agency routinely allocates the majority of forage resources in designated herd management areas to private livestock instead of federally-protected wild horses and burros. The BLM seeks to reduce the wild horse and burro population down to a number that is lower than the estimated population that existed in 1971, when Congress found that the animals were "fast disappearing."
The BLM has rounded up and removed thousands more wild horses each year than can be adopted, resulting in the stockpiling of more horses in holding facilities (50,000) than are left free on the range (<32,000). The pressure to open these holding facilities to sale for slaughter is increasing, and it was revealed in September 2012 that the BLM has sold at least 1,700 wild horses to a known horse slaughterer named Tom Davs.
Learn more about what's wrong with the federal government's wild horse program: