Where Are Our Wild Horses?

Gillian Lyons

 When contemplating American Icons, mustangs inevitably come to mind.  In fact, in the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, Congress stated that wild free-roaming horses are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management is currently removing, via controlled round-ups, this symbol of the American spirit from their habitats throughout the western United States. Two such round-ups currently in the news are occurring in Colorado and Wyoming (a round-up that aims to remove 2,000 horses from rangelands).  After these round-ups, BLM plans to either auction captured horses or to house them in government owned corrals.

 According to the Bureau of Land Management’s Director, Bob Abbey, the reason for these round-ups is that the Western rangeland is currently home to 38,400 free-roaming population horses and burros, which exceeds by nearly 12,000 the number of horses and burros that the BLM has determined can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses.  Animal welfare organizations, however, disagree with these calculations and policies, and claimed in a unified letter signed by 120 organizations that:

  • BLM has no accurate current inventory of the 37,000 wild horses and burros it claims remain on public lands. Independent analysis of BLM’s own numbers reveal there may be only 15,000 wild horses remaining on public lands. 
  • BLM intends to spend over $30 million in Fiscal Year 2010 to capture more than 12,000 wild horses and burros.  
  • 32,000 wild horses and burros are already being held in government holding facilities at taxpayer expense. 
  • Far greater damage is caused to public lands by privately-owned livestock, which outnumber the horses more than 100 to 1.

 Last week, nearly a year after the unified letter was signed and sent to the Obama Administration and BLM, the Cloud Foundation, Habitat for Horses and the ASPCA filed suit against the Bureau claiming that the their plan to remove horses from Colorado violates the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.  The suit however, has not halted the Colorado round-up, or phased the Bureau in the slightest, as clearly evidenced by their Colorado spokesman, David Boyd, who stated that the Bureau will be “continuing forward with the gather (of horses). These gathers have been challenged before.”

One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pace Law Library and Animal Blawg, Michelle McCaulley. Michelle McCaulley said: RT @animalblawg: Where Are Our Wild Horses? http://bit.ly/bhnXIR […]

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