Save Our Wild and Domesticated Horses
- U.S Congress, U.S. Government, International Government Bodies
Did you know that (as of 6/98) BLM "official" figures show that there are only about 42,000 wild horses and burros (approximately 35,000 horses & 7,000 burros) left on public lands (in 10 western states - confined by law to Herd Management Allotments or "HMA's")? However, HorseAid places this figure much lower (see our "BLM Report Card", below for more information).
The Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971 (the "Wild Horse Annie Act") declared that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West (in essence, an American "heritage"), and require protection under U.S. Federal law ("Congress finds and declares 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 lifeforms within the nation and enrich the lives of the American people." -- December 15, 1971 Congressional Declaration). Yet, there are currently less wild horses and burros on public lands in the Western states (their traditional ancestral range) than there were in 1971, when the Act was passed (approximately 172,000 horses and burros have been "adopted" since the adoption program was initiated).
The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for the protection of these animals, and yet, sadly and tragically, it may be this same agency which is responsible for their "fast disappearing from the American West". By revising policy at will, and circumventing the law when it suits them, some individuals within the Bureau of Land Management are bringing about the total destruction of this great American heritage largely in the interest of, and for, personal gain or to save the "integrity" of the agency itself Criminal investigations by several Bureau of Land Management law enforcement agents that would have exposed illegal activity in the Wild Horse and Burro Program, have been obstructed by numerous BLM managers and employees. If something is not done, and done soon -- we stand a very good chance of forever losing this "living symbol of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West".
A reporter chased the perennial allegations of BLM malfeasance by tracing paper trails, something animal advocates have not done on any comparable scale. "Using freeze-brand numbers and computer records," "the AP traced more than 57 former BLM horses sold to slaughterhouses since September. Eighty percent were less than 10 years old and 25% were less than five years old." "The AP matched computer records of horse adoptions with a computerized list of federal employees and found that more than 200 current BLM employees have adopted more than 600 wild horses and burros." Mendoza got some eye-popping quotes, too. "Asked about the AP's findings," she wrote, It is conceded that about 90% of the horses rounded up go to slaughter."
"Using the BLM's computerized records maintained in Denver and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the AP found that 32,774 of all adopted horses and burros--20%--remain untitled. Legally, they are still federal property." The 57 wild horses sold to slaughter in approximately four months was not a greater number than go to slaughter from many individual riding stables, racetracks, and ranches. That 90% of the BLM horses eventually go to slaughter, would just reflect the fate of most horses from any source who go to auction. "While it is common for old or lame horses to go to slaughter," "nearly all former BLM horses sent to slaughter are young and healthy."
Yet dozens of horse rescue groups from coast to coast stay busy buying and adopting out other young, healthy horses they find at slaughter auctions. The fact is, horse overpopulation seems to be as much a reality as pet overpopulation, and although many people are willing to adopt a horse for a while, most quickly find themselves unable to keep up with the ongoing costs and demand on time. Wild horses, precisely because they are wild, require particular effort to turn into good riding steeds. Since federal budget cuts killed most of the prison-based projects that formerly either "gentled" or "broke" wild horses to saddle, the horses available for adoption have been more problematic, less suitable for the average rider. They can't compete with abundant ready-to-ride horses from domestic oversupply, even at the BLM adoption price of $125, 11% of the average cost to the government of rounding up, vaccinating, freezebranding, and adopting out a wild horse.
Adopters "can get lame or old horses for as little as $25, or even for free," , referring to the fee-waiver program the BLM uses to rid itself of horses nobody wants. "After holding the horses for a year, the adopters are free to sell them for slaughter, typically receiving $700 per animal. The government spends $1,100. The adopter can make $575 or more."
In other news...Nine young mares that survived the barren deserts of the West died of stress induced by their capture and a 1,000-mile truck ride to Colorado.
The horses died of "capture myopathy,'' a condition in wild animals triggered by anxiety of capture, according to test results released Tuesday by the Bureau of Land Management.
Forty mares and 10 studs were loaded into a truck Feb. 17 (1998) at the BLM's center in Palomino Valley north of here for the 24-hour trip to a similar facility south of Denver.
Nine horses arrived showing signs of distress. None survived.
Handling of the animals is a topic being addressed by a new advisory board looking into issues surrounding the estimated 44,000 wild horses and burros that roam free across 11 Western states.
"The advisory board will be looking into ways to minimize stress, whether on the range, during gathers or as they move through the adopt-a-horse program,'' said Robin Lohnes, a board member and the executive director of the American Horse Protection Association in Washington, D.C.
The 26-year-old adoption program was intended by Congress to reduce the number of animals competing with ranchers' cattle for scant forage on federal lands. Horses are rounded up into corrals and put up for adoption.
The establishment of the advisory panel followed reports last year by The Associated Press that thousands of animals adopted through a federal program were sold for slaughter with BLM employees among those who profited.
The AP also reported that the BLM lost track of about 32,000 adopted animals and that agency officials gave false information to Congress.
People need to be aware and more responsible for the heritage that is being killed. Our goverments need to make an amendment to protect not just the wild horses, but all of our horses, before it is too late. Horses are always going to be here, if we take care of them. Besides, who can not smile when they see horses grazing peacfully in a rolling green pasture? If we don't do something now, that sight will only be a fading memory.
Please sign this petition. It will get send to our governments in hope they will write and pass an amendment that will protect our wild horses. Also send this petition to your friends and let's see how many signatures we can get. Anyone interested in helping me, contact me, the author, and let's make history!
"...so that all horses and ponies may lead a
full and productive life, free from pain and abuse."
Our goverments need to make an amendment to protect not just the wild horses, but all of our horses, before it is too late. Horses are always going to be here, if we take care of them. Besides, who can not smile when they see horses grazing peacfully in a rolling green pasture? If we don't do something now, that sight will only be a fading memory.
Please sign this petition. It will get send to our governments in hope they will write and pass an amendment that will protect our wild horses. Also send this petition to your friends and let's see how many signatures we can get.
The Save Our Wild and Domesticated Horses petition to U.S Congress, U.S. Government, International Government Bodies was written by Heather-Joan King and is in the category Animal Rights at GoPetition.