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The U.S. Bureau of Land Management voted to kill 44,000 of the 67,000 total wild horses in the country to make room for more beef cattle last Friday.
The vote came two months after beef industry representatives testified on Capitol Hill, demanding that the agency kill all 44,000 wild horses currently held captive in BLM holding facilities and round-up the majority of the rest for sterilization.
In a House Subcommittee on Federal Lands meeting, California Congressman Tom McClintock (R) said wild horses are overpopulated and eating up all the grass that could be used to support more cattle:
There are currently around 67,000 wild horses in the United States – a 15-percent increase from last year and the highest number in 30 years. Without “management,” McClintock said, the wild horse population would double every 4 to 5 years.
“Nature is brutal in dealing with overpopulation,” he said. “It manages it by disease and starvation.”
McClintock and the cattlemen the represents says a much more humane way to deal with the “problem,” is slaughter and surgical sterilization.
It’s not just the horses that are threatened by their recent “population explosion,” McClintock said. It’s “agricultural development … and the human population that depends on crops and livestock taken from the same land.”
The BLM says the cost of caring for a horse in a coral is nearly $50,000 over the lifetime of each animal. That equates to over a billion dollars based on the current number being held, McClintock said.
Director of The Cloud Foundation Ginger Kathrens – who spent decades documenting wild horses for PBS – followed up with testimony that made McClintock look either dumb or dishonest.
Not only are wild horses not “overpopulated,” Kathrens said. They are managed at levels “far below the population required for genetic viability” and are in danger of disappearing for good.
Wild horses live on only 11 percent of BLM-managed land (27 million acres in 10 states), and in most cases they share the land with privately owned cattle, she said. “Livestock outnumber horses and burros 47 to 1, and livestock are allocated 82 percent of the forage.” Who’s starving out who again?
And the reason the wild horse population went up 15 percent last year? Because birth rates among horses remaining in the wild go up when over half of their population is removed from the land and placed in feedlots.
“Current management practices of round-up, removal and warehousing … cause compensatory reproduction – an increase in populations as a result of decreased competition for forage,” Kathrens said.
Kathrens says there are humane population control alternatives to castration, , long-term confinement and slaughter, such as shooting birth control darts at the animals in their natural habitat. Of course, she would prefer the animals be left alone and not have to compete with ever-growing populations of cattle, which are often artificially inseminated to feed ever-growing populations of humans.
Kathrens was the only person on the 7-member BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board to vote against the mass slaughter Friday.
Who to Contact:
Email your comments to the six members of the BLM Advisory Board who voted for wild horse genocide:
June Sewing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fred Woehl: email@example.com;
Robert Cope: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Julie Weikle: email@example.com;
Sue McDonnell: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Steven Yardley: email@example.com;
Ben Masters: firstname.lastname@example.org
BLM Advisory Board General Contact: email@example.com
Here’s the full list of U.S. Representatives on the Federal Lands Subcommittee, which oversees the BLM. Be sure to get in touch with Chairman McClintock, Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah – who threatened to fire everyone on the Bureau of Land Management if they didn’t cull the herds of wild horses immediately and aggressively harassed Kathrens during her testimony – and Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming – who called for the “lovely and peaceful euthanasia” of the horses “whose wild lives are over.”
Sign the petition to stop the slaughter here!