We still have a long way to go, but the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is encouraged by the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) announcement that it is accelerating the implementation of long sought-after reforms to how the agency manages America’s wild horses and burros.
Following reprimand by the U.S. House of Representatives in the form of a $2 million cut to its budget, the BLM has outlined extensive changes to its wild horse program, including reducing the number of wild horses removed from the range for at least the next two years, increasing adoptions, significantly expanding the use of fertility control to maintain herd levels, and improving its care and handling procedures to enhance the humane treatment of the animals.
On the topic of fertility (most of you know I just wrote about feral cats and birth control), I was concerned about the safety measures this poses for wild horses. According to the BLM, they propose to significantly increase the number of mares treated with fertility control’s from 500 in 2009 to a target of 2,000 in each of the next 2 years, pending sufficient budget allocations. The BLM’s ultimate goal is to make various fertility control measures the primary means to maintain healthy population levels. They will work closely with the Humane Society of the United States to implement and monitor this expanded effort.
Your Voice is Heard
“The BLM’s announcement is a result of intense public outcry to save America’s wild horses,” said Matt Bershadker, senior vice president of ASPCA Anti-Cruelty. “The ASPCA will be watching closely to ensure the BLM lives up to its new promises.”
Bershadker added, “The ASPCA reminds the American public that more than 15,000 wild horses and burros are still slated for round-up over the next two years, adding to the tens of thousands of wild horses currently languishing in long-term holding pens. However, we are encouraged that the BLM is taking the necessary steps to correct its inhumane and fiscally irresponsible policies before these iconic horses are completely eradicated, and we look forward to greater transparency in all aspects of the BLM’s wild horse program.”
Late last year, the ASPCA filed suit in New York against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to challenge the BLM’s illegal roundup of the Piceance-North Douglas Herd in Colorado. The BLM continues to violate the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which was passed to protect wild horses and burros from capture and preserve the land used by them. More than 19 million acres originally designated for wild horse use have slowly been whittled away for cattle grazing, making them both the victim and target for removal. The use of helicopters to run the terrified horses over miles of rangeland has resulted in serious injuries and several horse deaths.
For more information on the BLM’s mismanagement of America’s wild horses, please contact your U.S. senators and urge them to support U.S. Representative Dan Burton’s amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill. Click here to help.