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Who is feeding and watering America’s wild horses that are currently stockpiled in federally funded holding facilities?
There are no government employees on site at the Bureau of Land Management’s Palomino Valley National Wild Horse and Burro Center, located 25 miles north of Reno, Nevada. Only two contract workers are on site to feed the roughly 2,000 horses at the facility (the largest wild horse and burro short-term holding, adoption and processing center in America).
Animal advocates from the Hidden Valley Horse Rescue group have been making daily visits to Palomino Valley Center to ensure that someone shows up each day and that the horses are safe.
It’s estimated that 80 percent of America’s wild horses and burros are kept in federally funded facilities, whereas only 20 percent are free-roaming on the open range. “We continue to decrease the land that’s available to the horses, and continue to gather and remove the horses from their natural habitat–it’s disgraceful,” says Beverlee McGrath, lobbyist and representative for the majority of animal groups in Nevada, including Nevada Political Action for Animals.
For years we’ve seen Nevada’s wild horses chased by helicopters, rounded up and forced into captivity. It began in 1971, when Congress directed the Secretary of the Interior to “protect and manage” them. According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) information sheet handed out at a BLM Advisory Board meeting, of the 245 million acres managed by BLM, livestock grazing is authorized on 157 million acres and wild horses and burros are managed on only 26 million acres. The administration wants to remove additional native wild equids and requested an additional $4 million in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
In 1900 there were 2 million wild horses roaming in America. Today less than 17,000 estimated wild horses remain in all 10 western states combined. The BLM’s estimate, over 37,000, is grossly inflated to justify additional removals.
The Palomino Valley Center has been the subject of controversy and neglect for some time – limping horses standing on sore, extremely overgrown hooves, neglected for a year or more; horses forced to stand in Nevada’s extreme heat without any shelter for the close to 2,000 captive wild horses, including pregnant mares and foals.
It’s disgraceful how horses are treated. Thankfully, there are volunteers who are helping. In another horse-related story, read how Willie Nelson, Shane and Sia Barbi (also known as The Barbi Twins), and the Animal Welfare Institute are working to help save horses.