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The Killing of America's Wild Horses

Photo Credit: Cattoor Livestock Roundups

At one time in our not so distant past an estimated 3 million wild horses roamed the west. That number has declined to approximately 35,000 due to Ken Salazar and now Sally Jewell and the rouge Bureau of Land (mis)Management's (BLM) land use policies along with a concerted effort by ranchers to eliminate all competition for forage. BLM roundups have forced another 40,000 equines to live out their lives in pens under inhumane conditions and without proper veterinary or farrier care. The use of PZP and the proposed gelding of all captured stallions will further decimate the few remaining herds. Approximately $85M will be spent by the Bureau of Land (mis)Management each year in an effort to eliminate wild horses.

Why are these icons being removed? The answer is simple - livestock producers want more taxpayer owned land to graze their herds on. It's much more advantageous to pay $1.35 per animal unit per month than it is to purchase feed. The already subsidized ranchers would like us to believe that without BLM intervention the population of wild horses will double every four years. They also claim that there isn't enough forage or water sources to sustain the horses thereby implying that removal is in the best interest of the horses. These claims are false and contradictory.

In order for the herds to double every four years, every single mare, even those too young or too old to reproduce, would have to give birth to a live foal every single year. All of the horses would also have to live on into infinity while remaining reproductively active.  Neither is possible. The health of any herd is directly tied to food supplies and weather conditions. Without an abundance of forage and water, successful reproduction is not possible. Periods of drought and unusually harsh winters obviously cause a significant increase in death rates. Private horse breeders with access to top notch veterinary care typically have a 70% live foal rate, but we are expected to believe that wild horses have a 100% rate of success along with immortality.

The BLM and rancher claim of lack of forage and water sources is further countered by the fact that in most areas where horses were removed cattle took their place. These horses have survived for centuries in the wild. They know where to find water and forage. It wasn't until the cattle ranchers fenced off the natural water sources that water supplies became an issue.

Another excuse used by ranchers is that the horses should be removed because they are a ‘non-native' species. Science proves otherwise. Fossils of prehistoric horses dating back some 55 million years ago have been found in Colorado and Wyoming. Cattle on the other hand were imported from Europe only 400 years ago.

Not one single horse that has been removed was underweight or in poor condition. Common sense should dictate that unfit wild horses simply become food for predators. The rest of the herd remains healthy. That is, until the roundups begin. Many horses have been killed during the roundups. Some have been run through barbed wire fencing. Many have died from exhaustion after being chased by helicopters for miles. There is video footage of at least one mare being hit by the rung of a helicopter after she became exhausted and stopped running. Foals often fall victim to the inhumane roundup process with some actually being run for so long that they literally ran their hooves off. The injuries and deaths increase once the horses are in forced into the temporary holding pens. Broken legs and broken necks are common injuries as the horses attempt to escape. Even more injuries occur when the horses are loaded onto trailers to be taken to the long-term holding pens. Electrical devices are used to shock the reluctant horses and force them to load which causes additional panic and injuries.

Where do the horses end up? Most spend their remaining years in miserable conditions in overcrowded long-term holding pens. Some are adopted by private individuals who train them to become riding horses. Thousands of these horses have been shipped to slaughter.

The round ups and deaths caused by the BLM are unconscionable. The BLM's latest fix for a problem that doesn't exist is ovariectomy - removing the ovaries of female horses. This procedure is rarely performed on domesticated horses due to numerous complications including death. Very few large animal veterinarians perform this procedure electing instead to refer their clients to well-equipped veterinary hospitals with surgical suites. Performing this procedure on a wild animal out in the field in unsterile conditions with no follow up exams will result in death to many of the mares. Front Range Equine Rescue is currently suing the BLM to stop them from performing this surgery.   https://www.frontrangeequinerescue.org/lawsuit-against-blm-on-gruesome-wild-mare-sterilization/

The Wild Free Roaming Horse Act was signed into law in 1971. This act was supposed to protect our wild equines from exactly what Salazar and the BLM are doing to them. Our legislators in Washington need to stop the carnage caused by the BLM. Sadly, money talks and Congress seems to be owned by ranchers and the oil industry.



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