Federal Budget Puts Tens of Thousands of Wild Horses and Burros in Jeopardy

June 9, 2017


On May 23, the Trump Administration released a budget proposal that puts the lives of thousands of wild horses and burros in jeopardy. Under this budget, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), part of the Department of Interior, is proposing changes that would allow our government to sell these cultural icons, putting them at risk to be killed for human consumption overseas.

The BLM is responsible for protecting and managing America’s wild horse population. But despite advice from the National Academy of Sciences and other scientific bodies, as well as annual directives from Congress, the agency has not instituted immunocontraceptives (birth control) to properly curb the growth of herds. These irresponsible practices have led to thousands of horses being held in government holding pastures, which costs taxpayers more than it would cost to manage them on the range. Failing to focus on prevention, the BLM has created an artificial and avoidable crisis—and now the agency is looking for an easy way out at the expense of the very horses and burros they are charged with protecting.  

If passed, the proposed budget would allow for the sale of federally protected wild horses and burros “without limitation,” meaning that these horses will likely end up in the hands of kill buyers who will take them across our borders to be slaughtered for human consumption. It also would allow the agency to use tax dollars to shoot healthy wild horses in large numbers.

Wild horses are integral parts of our cultural heritage and should be maintained and managed as national treasures. Allowing them to be killed is not the solution to rangeland management.

Other populations of wild horses have been successfully managed with fertility control. A single dose can prevent reproduction for one to two years depending on the contraceptive. Scientists and experts consistently endorse this method not only because it is humane and effective, but also because it cuts costs. Congress has even included language in previous budget bills urging the BLM to use fertility control to manage herds, but these calls have gone unanswered. Last year alone, the BLM spent less than 4% of its budget on immunocontraception, but over $50 million on roundups and care of horses in holding facilities. 

Wild horses are a vibrant symbol of the American spirit, and sending tens of thousands of them to their deaths is not the way their story should end. Please help us reject this shameful proposal: Tell your U.S. representative and Department of the Interior’s Secretary Zinke that horses shouldn’t pay with their lives for the incompetence of the agency required by law to care for them.