On Thursday, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board recklessly voted to approve recommendations that call on the Bureau of Land Management to shoot tens of thousands of healthy wild horses and burros. At its meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado, the advisory board recommended that BLM achieve its on-range population goal of 26,715 wild horses and burros while also phasing out the use of long-term holding facilities, both within three years. The board also discussed the option of allowing international adoptions and sales which have not been allowed before and. It is proposed by a private party to have American taxpayers pay to ship 20,000 wild horses to Russia, where they would serve as prey animals for big cats.
“Killing tens of thousands of wild horses and burros would be a betrayal of millions of taxpayers who want wild horses protected as intended in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and who have invested tens of millions of dollars in their care,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation. And she goes on, “BLM has been tasked by Congress with the responsibility of protecting wild horses. The agency has failed over and over, wasting time on think tanks, challenge concepts, and meetings that go nowhere instead of directing resources toward actually managing land, water and habitat on the range and building a robust volunteer effort to help with critical projects benefiting wild horses and other wildlife.” Polls have repeatedly shown that about 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter and a similar percentage want to see wild horses protected. In September 2016, the advisory board voted to recommend destroying captive wild horses and removing all restrictions to their sale, which would allow buyers to purchase them on the cheap and transport them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Again, Kathrens was the lone “no” vote. In July, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that removed language that would bar BLM from killing healthy wild horses. The Senate Appropriations Committee could vote on its version of the Interior bill as soon as next week. “It will take time, commitment and diligence—and a real plan—but we have science that clearly shows the path to a sustainable future for wild horses and burros,” DeMayo said. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but it must be done and it must start now. The American people need to rally and urge Congress to force BLM to humanely manage these iconic, federally protected animals on the range.”