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Wild Horses and Burros Need Your Help -- From the BLM, Groups Say


WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 -- The following statement was released today by the Society for Animal Protective Legislation, the American Horse Protection Association, the American Humane Association, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:

In a recent press release, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) called for horse lovers to come to the aid of America’s wild horses and burros. While these animals do need your help, they must be saved from the BLM -- not from the lands on which they have historically roamed. For over 30 years now, the agency responsible for protecting these national treasures has worked harder at undermining the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act than at the very task they were assigned.

Ignoring scientific evidence, government studies and the voices of horse lovers all over the country, the BLM has consistently pursued a policy of mass removal of these animals from public lands. The original Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act sought to prevent this very type of action, noting that wild horse populations in the United States were in rapid decline. Today, their numbers are lower than ever before; less than 32,000 wild horses and burros remain on over 280 million acres of public lands the BLM manages for U.S. taxpayers. In contrast, domestic livestock populations total -- 4.1 million.

Removing 10,000 of these animals from the range each year is not only irresponsible and unsubstantiated, but not in the best interest of the animals. The BLM claims it offers the horses up for adoption, yet neglects to mention that animals over 5-years-of-age are automatically transported to Long Term Holding with little or no effort to market them for adoption. With rare exception, animals over the age of 10 have never been offered for adoption. Additionally, 41 horses sold under the “sales authority” died brutal deaths in a US slaughterhouse last spring. Most of the BLM’s financial problems stem from its own mismanagement of the wild horse program.

When the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed in 1971, the US Senate stated, “An intensive management program of breeding, branding, and physical care would destroy the very concept that this legislation seeks to preserve ... Leaving the animals alone to fend for themselves and placing primary emphasis on protecting the animals from continued slaughter and harassment by man.” Sadly, this is just one of many Congressional mandates the BLM has blatantly ignored.

True horse lovers and the American public realize that simply adopting these unnecessarily acquired wild animals from the BLM will not solve the real problem facing wild horses and burros today. To ensure these animals will truly be safe from slaughter, mishandling and other poor conditions, we must let them roam free. We call upon Congress to end BLM’s irresponsible management practices and restore longstanding safeguards that return wild horses and burros to the open range.


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