WASHINGTON—The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) today denounced the Trump administration’s proposed FY 2018 federal budget for including a shocking plan to remove existing safeguards for federally-protected wild horses, opening the door for tens of thousands of horses to be immediately killed or sent to slaughter. The Wild Horse and Burro Program, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Department of the Interior, would allow wild horses to be sold to the highest bidder, almost certainly for the purposes of slaughter, and would strip critical language prohibiting the killing of healthy wild horses.
“This proposal represents a dereliction of the Interior Department’s responsibility to protect our nation’s wild horses and an affront to public opinion and our shared values,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “Wild horses can and should be humanely managed on-range using simple fertility control, yet the BLM would rather make these innocent animals pay for draconian budget cuts with their very lives.”
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 was enacted to protect wild horses and burros from harassment or death and preserves the federal lands they inhabit. Unfortunately, in the decades since the federal act was passed, millions of acres of rangeland have been whittled away for other purposes, and the BLM opts each year to use helicopters to round up the terrified horses and remove the animals from public lands, resulting in serious injuries and deaths.
Currently, the BLM has over 45,000 wild horses and burros in holding facilities. The BLM has refused to implement a long-term strategy that prioritizes on-range management tactics including a comprehensive immunocontraception (birth control) plan, a method recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. This budget proposes to further reduce the use of immunocontraception contrary to recommendations from scientists and wild horse advocates.
“The BLM has placed thousands of horses in long-term holding facilities while doing nothing to manage the population left on the range,” said Bershadker. “We cannot allow these mustangs – who’ve lived freely and independently for generations — to be gunned down or butchered. Congress affirmed the need to protect them in the federal budget passed last month, and we urge them to reject any proposal to kill wild horses or burros simply for the sake of convenience.”
The ASPCA has an extensive history of equine protection around the country and continues to assist both domestic and wild horses through legislation, advocacy and targeted grants. To join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade and learn more about the ASPCA’s efforts to protect and aid horses, please visit www.aspca.org.