BLM plotting war on wild horses

By on June 15, 2017 with 68 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The Department of the Interior, under the leadership of Secretary Ryan Zinke, has signaled its intention to strip decades-old federal protections for wild horses and burros and to allow them to be shipped to slaughter by the tens of thousands. Public comments and Congressional testimony from Zinke and other high-ranking government officials represents the most severe threat to wild horses since the ghastly and cruel killing practices of the 1960s prompted Congress to adopt the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

Turning to mass slaughter would mark a U-turn on the government’s response to wild horse management programs. It was only in April that Congress passed a spending bill with sensible wild horse provisions for the remainder of 2017. That bill included language preventing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and its contractors from sending wild horses to slaughter for human consumption. It further directed the BLM to create a plan to maintain long-term, sustainable populations on the range in a humane manner.

Now, just two months after President Trump signed the 2017 Omnibus spending bill into law, the Department of the Interior is saying it is going to default to slaughter because it’s possessed with no other options. In the president’s budget request for 2018, the department has asked for the ability to maintain wild horse and burro populations at dramatically reduced levels and to get there by slaughtering the animals.

While there are always going to be major challenges in managing wild horses and burros on our western public lands and in satisfying the diverse stakeholders in the debate, there are certain options that should never even be considered because they are simply outside the bounds of how animals should be treated. Mass slaughter is one of those dreadful ideas, an action that flies in the face of the now longstanding prohibition on slaughter and of the instincts of millions of Americans to protect these magnificent symbols of the American West.

The BLM has never been exemplary at managing horses. Far from it. For 20 years, the agency’s primary strategy for wild horse and burro populations has largely consisted of rounding up and removing the animals from our public lands – an effort that has resulted in tens of thousands of wild horses and burros being kept in holding facilities at a cost now approaching $50 million a year — more than half of the BLM’s annual budget for the entire wild horse and burro program. Partly because the costs of caring for so many captive horses are undermining the larger program, the agency has failed to commit any additional money to implement sufficient fertility control programs, which have been long recommended by The HSUS and the National Academies of Sciences.

The aggressive and widespread use of fertility control is the only way to confront this crisis in the long term. The horses need to be managed, but in a humane manner. Fertility control works, but only if there’s a serious investment in the enterprise on the ground. By preventing the birth of foals, the agency will find itself under less pressure to round up so many horses. Fewer round-ups mean substantial cost savings, since not as many animals need to be pastured and fed in short-term and long-term holding facilities. A capture-and-kill strategy, on the other hand, will only make matters worse, because it will cause the horses to compensate by reproducing at a higher rate on the range.

We cannot readily resolve the politics of managing the captive and free-roaming wild horse populations without a struggle. It won’t be easy to get a handle on this. But one thing is for sure: sanctioning the slaughter of tens of thousands of horses is a disgraceful, shameful idea. It is an unacceptable idea that will produce protests in the streets, from Reno to Washington, D.C. Mass slaughter will happen only over the cries, protests, and interventions of the American people.

Tell Secretary Zinke that you do not support the slaughter of America’s wild horses, by calling 202-208-7351.

Equine, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Adrienne says:

    Do any of these people have a brain in their heads? What a horrific idea!

    • Anna says:

      No brains . I like to round up Congress and put them in a facility and hold them for good ! Morons .heartless ! With all their personnel money they care about nothing

    • Jacqueline M Ducharme says:

      these horses should not be in holding pens unless they are going to sterilize stallions. They wouldn’t have to feed them etc if they would let them lose. Never mind the farmers that want the Federal land for their cattle. Those lands belong to all of us. I disagree with this government on slaughtering horses.

  2. Nancy O'Neal says:

    When the caring, gratefulness and kindness of a nation goes the nation soon follows.

  3. mary k. says:

    The almost daily attack against some group of animals by the present administration and ‘friends’ is so difficult to understand! Why don’t these people want to ‘go down’ as wonderful, kind, outstanding American role models instead of the heartless abusive destroyers of animals? It would make their careers so much more popular and gain so much more respect for themselves from the world. I hope they develop more of a positive inclination soon.

    • Deborah Kay Harris says:

      So easy to blame Trump. It cannot happen because of the way the first bill was written. And for your information BLM supported Hillary. Check your facts. And maybe you should check a little deeper on your Hillary and her part in this bill😘

      • Emily says:

        The bill was only worded to prevent sale for consumption, which is the main reason they were being slaughtered. They can still change their policy to allow for mass slaughter and dispose of the bodies.

      • Thomas Lee says:

        Sure and what is your explanation for Trump attempting to eliminating the EPA or Taking Native Americans lands away.. You need to pull your head out of the Chumps A.. and wake up.

      • Sharon Feldberg says:

        Yes. Both parties have done little to protect animals. The greatest horror is factory farming and compassionate people chose veganism

    • Sharon Feldberg says:

      Because their nature is based upon greed and violence

    • Jacqueline M Ducharme says:

      Blame it onto Trump. He is cutting cost so he can look like he saved the US and all his followers are hurting everyone.

  4. paula dyer says:

    I DO NOT support the slaughter of Americas wild horses. Please stop.

  5. Erik Sutton says:

    Our federal government believes themselves above the law. We the people need to hold them to the humane practices available to maintain our valued heritage of the Mustangs and not allow this atrocity. Please stand with us and our beloved wild mustangs!

  6. RRuinsky says:

    The horses don’t need to be managed. The humans do. I’m sick of the cruelty, the desire to destroy everything beautiful in this country.

  7. Stephanie Sutton Young says:

    This is totally wrong, these precious creatures have rights and feelings, we are supposed to look after them. What next, will they round up dogs and cats and cast them aside as well. What is wrong with these people, they are disgusting.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Stop the killing of horses, Burros and other animals. What kind of people believe slaughter is an appropriate answer. Humans kill for money. End this now.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Just left a message on the number posted above.

  10. Sherra says:

    This is wrong. Train and sell these animals or allow for adoption. Private cattlemen should share public land with the horses and burrows. They should not be allowed to just slaughter our wildlife because it interferes with their cows grazing, and profits. Our wildlife is also valuable, not just cows.. When these animals are gone we will never get them back, and we will be poorer for it.

    • Lynn Gruwell Chambers says:

      training and selling is not necessary. there are approximately 50,000 horses and burros in holding…not many of them have had any training and we’re fooling ourselves to think otherwise. the BLM will not invest in training so forget that…the answer is wide spread fertility management and adoption. I own 3 wild horses and a number of donkeys. they live peacefully on my 40 acres, easy keepers, don’t require much just like when they’re on the range…no vetting or farrier care there. my herd is healthy, happy and safe. Trump wants to let cattlemen run their cattle on federal land and wants to sell the horse meat to China. its time to take action and stop all the talk. put your money where your mouth is and save one. there are plenty of non profit advocate groups who are doing good things to save these animals…mine came from the slaughter line….we don’t need more cattle on public lands and we don’t need to be enriching American cattle farmers at the expense of these animals who are owned by the people. Call Sec Zinke and express your disgust and objections to what Trump and his Dept of Interior hope to achieve. why is anyone surprised about this? Trumps sons are big game hunters, shown in many pics with dead animals they consider trophies…don’t just talk about it, call Zinke and your representatives to express your objections to what is being proposed…how many of you want horse slaughter plants back in the US?

      • patti ferguson says:

        Excellent comment

      • Si says:

        We need humane slaughtering of equines back again. I’m a life long professional horse trainer and have watched so so many horses suffer once the slaughterhouses closed. Fertility control is one of the best ways to manage the “wild” horses. theres not enough people to take on the vast amount of horses n burros in holding pens. Some of those animals are not safe to handle or hope to be trained.
        Mass slaughtering is certainly not an option in my mind but the numbers need to be managed.
        Horse in fact are more detrimental to the landscape than cattle. Cattles feet and eating habits are more productive to positive effects on the soil than horses hooves. I’m a full on professional and have first hand facts and truths. Lastly I’d rather see out money spent on managing and caring for the equines rather than welfare. Just sayin

        • Irene says:

          We have seen first hand the difference in soil once cattle have been removed and wild horses placed on it. Horses trim vegetation rather than rip it out at the roots, but more importantly horses have a cecal digestive system which coincides with them not being selective grazers. Often the biodiversity in vegetation increases in areas grazed by horses. Horses also do not digest the plant material completely and the fecal matter is reabsorbed back into the soil containing seeds. Horses create a more balanced system and their damages are small compared to cattle.

        • Johnny says:

          1 Trump has nothing to do with this program. So for those that like to blame everything on him fit your heads out of your ads .If you want to put blame look at Congress Trump may not made this mess but he has the power to stop it

      • Adele LeBourgeois Alsop says:

        Thanks for your comment. I agree with you. I would only add that mustangs are the best of all breeds. They are the strongest, most durable; the smartest, also most personable, as well as beautiful, horses. They are eminently trainable. Those who know them and ride them know why I am saying this!

  11. Harry says:

    Why their not predators their a beautiful symbol of America like the eagle and wolf

  12. Patty Bumgarner says:

    This makes me sick destroying our Wild Life!
    Wild Horses have roamed the range for decades, they have taken them from there homes held them in holding pens, and long term facilities, so many have vanished already, so many deaths go unaccountable at these facilities. Open the gates and return them to freedom will never happen,unles people stand up for them and be their voices.

    • Lily says:

      So you would rather have them starve on the range. Fertility control cannot solve this problem. You’d have to round 73,000 animals every year just to give them a one-year-effective vaccine.

      • Lela says:

        Lily, your comment is not true. Idaho has a wonderful sanctuary that’s called Wild Love Preserve where any wild horse that was taken in an Idaho roundup has been adopted and brought to the Preserve and reunited with their families. There is a birth control that can be served in darts and the darts are “shot” at the horses. It doesn’t hurt them and it keeps the mares from having foals for a couple of years. Please check out http://www.wildlovepreserve. The lady in charge is Andrea Maki and she is working with cattlemen and ranchers so everyone is happy with the solution. We want this kind of program in every state that has wild horses.

      • Ern says:

        “Starve on the range”is the fear mongering mantra for the anti-animal welfare folks, especially hunters who want to kill but want the public to think they are “helping” the game by killing them. Same with horses. First, NO wildlife starves if it’s left alone in its habitat. They not only manage their own births and population carrying capacity (which humans apparently cannot or will not do), so that their births match the forage/shelter, etc. The big “problem” with horses is that cattle and other livestock barons want that grazing land for themselves. If that’s not enough, the oil industries want to explore, drill, and frack, but they need to have the horses gone. THAT’s what’s driving this kill buying for slaughter–along with the countries that eat meat or process it for pet food. The U.S needs to take a stand: LEAVE wild horses alone; they will manage their populations just fine! And BTW: Do you think dying by starvation, if it happened, is worse than dying by an amateur with a knife, or traveling 1,000’s of miles, packed in trailers, to kill facilities in Mexico, Canada, or even shipped to Japan? Let nature take its course as it was meant.

      • Lynn Gruwell Chambers says:

        there are 50,000 wild horses and burros in holding and another 25,000 or so on the range. there is no rational reason to allow private cattle farmers to share the public land with these horses and burros, nor should we allow it. Trump wants slaughter plants in the US again so the meat can be sold to China, part of his so called efforts to enrich the interests of cattlemen. there is little fertility control in holding with the exception of some castrations, many of which have been botched. there is plenty of grazing land for the animals left on the range and they should not have to share it with privately owned cattle intended to sell to China or anywhere else for that matter. They will NOT starve on the range if this is handled correctly. Sorry Lily but you are wrong…there are far better solutions for this for this problem. various herds are being managed quite effectively on the range and that can continue…you are wrong about having to round up 73,000 animals every year…again, there are more in holding (50,000) and available for adoption then there are on the range (approx 25,000)….people please get your facts straight and call Sec Zinke and your representatives to express your strong objections to this “plan”.

      • patti ferguson says:

        Everything has its place. Wolves, Bears, Mountain Lions, even snakes all part of our ecosystem. Leave nature alone, it does very well without human help
        Have any on you witnessed the transport, the terror, the cruelty, the slaughter of horses and donkeys. They are big brained animals and a captive bolt does little to render them unconscious .
        The only missing from this nature lesson is cattle. Nothing more greedy than cattlemen.

      • Adele LeBourgeois Alsop says:

        You are not correct. Go out and see them, if you can even find them! They are very healthy, and their ranges and other wildlife are healthy, beautiful and remote. They are the best horses. You are not correct about the means to lower their fertility rates either either.

    • Dale Perrin says:

      Not decades, the horses and burros have roamed our wild areas for centuries.

  13. Shari Welsh says:

    Thank- u for continuing he fight against BLM’s corruption & their murderous -illegal intentions against Wild Horses & Burros. Also Wayne – ASAP need your help- for first time, after i have reported BLM & Int. Dept. to Int. Dept. OIG i HAVE GOTTEN A RESPONSE – I NEED HELP from U.

  14. Vicky brown says:

    Please stop collecting and killing these beautiful animals ther must be better solutions

  15. Mary Ellen Spaite says:

    We must not sanction slaughter. It is regression to a horrific state of affairs and should be seen for what it is… barbaric disregard for what really makes America great..our country’s wild lands, the iconic horses who gave their lives to advance our own lives and well-being…this is undemocratic, un-American and self-destructive. We must manage them, any way we can to avoid this atrocity. Keep America alive and well. The time is now.

  16. Christina p says:

    I would much rather see them shot on site, chasing , corralling and sending them to slaughter in Mexico and Canada would just torment them for a much longer period

    • Ernie Jay says:

      What “longer period”–there is no “longer period” of torment. They’ve been wild for centuries–THAT is their life. Do you think every “shot on site” means a clean quick kill? Not only are animals wounded, but suffer with infections until they die. Chasing them and watching foals unable to keep up is more humane? Seeing them injure each other in pens too small with “families” disconnected is more humane? WowEEEE–we are from different planets–those so-called “roundups” are models for EXTREME cruelty. Please, watch the videos of horse slaughters in Mexico, where the probably a 10 pesos/day worker stabs over and over, missing the mark, as the horses scream. THAT is cruelty. There’s so much more, but bottom line is: LEAVE wild horses alone and stop grazing allotments and/or oil/mineral/whatever exploration if it interferes with or impacts wild horse bands.

    • Lynn Gruwell Chambers says:

      there is absolutely no reason to shoot them EVER. do your homework so you understand the solutions…I have 17 wild horses and donkeys…I care for them all by myself with my own money…if I can do it and save some then so can others.

    • patti ferguson says:

      We dont have the right to shoot them

  17. Lily says:

    If the HSUS was serious about fertility control, they would have supported the BLM when they tried to research ways to spay and neuter wild horses as a means to keep them on the range and not have to round them up every year to give them a one-year-effective birth control vaccine.

    • Ernie Jay says:

      Oxymoron: “trust the BLM”
      As an aside, some fertility control programs were not so magnanimous. They wanted ALL horses sterile so they’d die out. There are alternative motives with the gov’t agencies, cattle barons, energy industries, etc. at play. Wild, innocent, free roaming horses are victims–primarily of greed.

    • Lynn Gruwell Chambers says:

      once again Lily you are wrong. it is the BLM’s responsibility to work on fertility control…I have already posted on another of your comments the factual information you may be missing

  18. Jill Alzina says:

    DO NOT kill our wild mustangs and burro’s! You know it’s wrong. Need somebody to put a stop to this inhumanity to animals once and for all! We don’t want them slaughtered because you don’t think they have anywhere to go. Figure it out and make it right, so nobody can come back and change the law again!! Save our wild beauties!! No more round ups with helicopters, no more horrific holding pens! Let them go back to their lands! Give them immunity! Give them a pardon, for what have they done wrong??

  19. Newt says:

    Oh HELL NO!!! I don’t know who’s Lame idea this is, yet I’d love to do to them what they want to do to the animals that YHWH put under our CARE at the beginning of the age!!
    Humans are so Arrogant & Greedy with the “ALL about ME” mentality today….makes me sick to say I belong to this “class” of SELF Centered, Disrespectful creatures!!!

  20. Nancy says:

    This administration is showing itself for the heartless, hateful, destroyer of all things good about the United States. When they are done it will be a wasteland, with wild animals, national parks, sea life, the Earth, and humans in much worse condition than when they took over. I am devastated and feel hopeless.

  21. Tricia Hamilton says:

    Why is OUR Country selling OUR horses to another country for consumption? Shame on YOU Whitehouse!!

  22. Kevin Huckabee says:

    Slaughter 7s not the answer when fertility measures would work better. Why does our government go against the will of the people to satisfy a few? It has become anything but a governmen of the people. If you have ever watched these animals in the wild, you will understand. Adoption can b better utilized. Much like wholesale slaughter of coyotes. The remaining , will reproduce at much faster rates.

  23. Marly Jung says:

    Horses public sanctioned areas are being zeroed out. Millions of their acres now have Zero horses, many of the existing management levels (aml) have been lowered so much that any new birth constitutes over-population on paper. eg: Palomino Buttes, 64 population allowed now in 71,000 acres – Livestock 2000 year round allowed. So, birth control is not necessary in 80% of the areas. In fact, the dimwits are using it to create non reproducing herds since last fall by (rounding up all, sort out all the young, release AML at 50/50 sex older horses with 100% of the mares shot with 2 year birth control. So, now a non-reproducing herd. If given another dose in 2 years they have a good chance of becoming sterile for life. The issue is land hoarding by people who do not want interference by the general population. This includes, photographers, small ranchers, even prospectors.

  24. Marly Jung says:

    The law and the public want our wild horse herds to be treated with respect and without disturbance of the herds natural social structure. Livestock managers and resource lawyers that run the program do not have the brain capacity to understand this concept. Zinke himself said people see horses as two things, livestock or pets….. Totally leaving out seeing horses as the integral part of our ecosystem and as Natural.

  25. Doris Muller says:

    BLM = Bureau of Lethal Management. It boils my blood when I read of the atrocities committed by, and planned, by this joke of a government department. I can’t help but wonder what kind of conscienceless misfits get hired.

    Since wild horses are on “public” lands, that belong to them and to you and me, and are supported by our tax dollars, it should be a criminal offense for a government dept. to mismanage and engage in the slaughter of thousands of defenseless animals. All 50 states have anti-cruelty animal laws, yet, the tax-supported Bureau of Lethal Management is allowed to create barbaric cruel and lethal management without restraints. The reasoning behind the BLM’s vicious destructive program is as weird as it gets: The BLM wants to eradicate or severely reduce wild nature from rightfully occupying the “public” lands so profiteers–farmers who graze farmed animals who will be KILLED for their flesh–can use public lands to graze the privately owned stock from which they will PROFIT.

    I too have previously stated that nature can take care of itself. It is humans who need to be managed. Since the BLM is such a destructive entity, it should be slated for slaughter, then, we will all profit.

    • Sharon Feldberg says:

      Absolutely agree with you on every comment you made. Everyday we are shocked with the news that some form of nature is being attacked.

    • Marian Prato says:

      Thank u Doris Miller. You couldn’t have been more concise!

  26. patti ferguson says:

    The Pioneer Woman has BLM horses on their ranch. Only mares…… and if a mare gives birth to a male, that horse is shipped off. They dont even get to live as they should. Meanwhile the ranchers are profitting off these animals.

    ” Another key advantage to running the horses is that you don’t have millions of dollars tied up in inventory; when a horse dies of old age, it’s sad of course. But it doesn’t cost you a thousand dollars as it would if one of your cows or steers dies.” Pioneer Woman and Husband

  27. patti ferguson says:

    The article is about Ree Drummond and her husband who make millions off the backs of captured horses while they warehouse and use them as a backdrop for her cooking show and products. It obviously touched a nerve among the mindless and uninformed as Deb and I receive hate mail on a regular basis but it IS the truth and they ARE wealthy due to your tax money and the mismanagement of the wild horses by the BLM. Deb and I have thick skin so the hate does not dissuade us but instead motivates us to dig into this situation even deeper and again, 2017 might be quite an interesting year.

    • Doris Muller says:

      Thank you, patti, for the link, interesting reading.

      Since I don’t support the cruelty to wild horses, instigated by the Bureau of Lethal Management, I think I should get a tax credit.

  28. Marlene Giffert-Matthews says:

    Shame on the White House. The BLM does not represent my tax payer views. Lets save money by getting rid of this useless dept. Nature does a great job on its own when men refrain from getting involved in the control of natural predators. Public lands should not be controlled by cattlemen who are only interested in their profits which are also based on the killing of animals. DO NOT KILL OUR WILD HORSES AND BURROS. What does this say about our society?

  29. Terrie Phillips says:

    It’s time we pay attention to the millionaire/billionaire ranchers who have the gov in their back pocket. These are not your rodeo cowboys holding the family traditions together. They are powerhouses like the Koch brothers etc. FORTY percent of America’s cattle are grazed on these lands. That’s privately owned cattle grazing on my and your land paying about $1.80 to $2.40 per head per month. At those fees set back in the 1960s, that don’t even pay to operate public lands do us taxpayers pay the bill for people like the Koch brothers to graze cattle on land that belongs to us. Some say that figure is around 500 million a year. We pay not the ranchers! The wealthy ranchers want it all for their cattle and sheep. Do some research and follow the money. Here’s one place.

  30. Adele LeBourgeois Alsop says:

    Mr. Pacelle, I am somewhat dismayed by your ambivalence about the wild horses, and I urge you to pay close attention to some of the good comments here, and, to learn more This is a ploy to get wild horses off their ranges. Do not listen to clever arguments to mass kill, mass remove wild horses. Humane and sustainable management, to (only) reduce reproduction, i.e. fertility reduction; not elimination is totally do-able. In fact it good management could have been completed in the time being wasted on convincing you to go along with aggressive and faulty publicity that the horses have to be removed. These are our public lands and that is what certain greedy interests want to get their hands on. Once the horses are “removed”, you can kiss our public lands and wildlife goodbye: and watch the blight of indiscriminate development, cattle industry, mining, and privatized sprawl and “de-regulation” take it’s relentless toll on vast beautiful lands once deemed “useless”. It is not only the beauty and value of wild horses that is at stake, it is also their ranges and wild , iconic landscape that is at stake and all the wildlife that’s out there, co-existing very well with the horses. Thousands and thousands of horses have already disappeared and been “removed”; some to happy mustang adopters, like myself, but most are gone. Even the holding pens are gone. I have nothing against ranching, cows, sheep, mineral extraction and the communities that are already out there, but we have a new federal administration that is a dismantling, deregulation machine on steroids and they do not care about you, or anything, or anyone. ABOUT HORSES: there is stringent new research that reveals the overlap of the modern horse, Equus Caballus, (which originated and evolved in North America), with the early peopling of North America:, so instead of casually using the term “feral” horses, it is more accurate to describe them as a returned native species. Modern humans and modern horses evolved simultaneously, about 160 to 200 thousand years ago. The domestication of the horse occurred in Central Asia and our human story/ history would not be what it is today without the horse! Our wild horses, particularly where they remained isolated for 300 years, have retained exceptional lineage from Colonial Spanish horses, some of whose breeds, at their height in the 17th century were used to improve horses in all of Europe, and are descended from the best horses in the world brought to Spain, beginning in the 8th century, by the Ottoman Turks. They no longer exist in Spain but do exist in isolated wild horse herds in North America.Theirs is a fascinating history; their story, type, and DNA documented by the world expert equine geneticist, Phillip Sponenberg of Lexington Kentucky.… As others have written in these comments, follow the money, and follow also the horses themselves. The wild horse herds do need wise and careful management. Mr. Pacelle, I recommend that you read everything you can find, including the above link, by Phillip Sponenberg, and do go out to wild horse management ranges. You will see that most of the places where the horses are located are beautiful, and not degraded. You will understand that these horses belong there, and that our public lands, the wild ranges and wildlife might not survive without saving the wild horses.

  31. Adele LeBourgeois Alsop says:

    This article about Utah wild horse management areas is a great resource and worth careful reading; enjoyable too, beautiful photos:

  32. Sophie says:

    Wild mustangs and burrows don’t need management to survive. Nor are they overpopulated. If they absolutely must not be wild, they can be given away to horse trainers and loving horse people willing to own a stang.

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