Wild Mustangs & Burros
In the nearly two decades since the Burns Amendment stripped away over 34 years of protection for America’s precious wild horse and burro herds, these majestic animals have been sold for commercial purposes, including slaughter. Legislation has been introduced to reinstate their protection, only to be blocked by the same special interest groups that want to keep horse slaughter legal.
Since 2012, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has violently rounded up nearly 90,000 Wild Horses and Burros, many of whom lived or are currently living in government holding facilities. All these animals are being held needlessly at the taxpayers’ expense. There are humane ways to manage them on the ranges at half the cost to the American taxpayers than the cost of the roundups that are both cruel and completely unnecessary. Additionally, the BLM claims not to sell wild horses for slaughter but has acknowledged that it has repeatedly sold horses to known killer buyers.
An investigation by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior found that in 2012, the BLM sold around 1,800 wild horses to rancher Tom Davis. Davis, known for selling horses to slaughter, promptly and illegally sent these 1,800 horses to Mexico for slaughter. Despite these findings, no action has been taken against Tom Davis.
The BLM has failed miserably in its management of these animals. Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was a major disappointment. She showed no interest or understanding of this issue and repeatedly refused to answer the question as to what would happen to the 50,000 mustangs that were captive in BLM long-term and short-term holding facilities when asked by members of the press as well as by welfare groups and concerned citizens. We hope to finally see positive change under the current administration.
As of 2023, there are only about 69,000 wild horses and 13,000 burros remaining on BLM-managed lands in the West. We say the public lands belong to the American people and if the polls are accurate, the vast majority of us want the roundups, the cruelty, and the slaughter to stop!
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Program Data
- BLM Releases Annual Plan for Wild Horse and Burro Gathers and Fertility Control Operations
- Onaqui roundup ends with 307 horses headed for adoption
- Hayden the Dun-Striped Mustang
- Nelson, Wild American Mustang
- The Path “Backward” for Wild Horses and Burros
- Lawmakers Seek Funding Ceiling, Clarity on BLM Wild Horse Management Plan
- Forest Service Banned from Selling Wild Horses for Slaughter
- Despite New Law, Forest Service Invites Ill-Intent with $1 Wild Horse Sales
- Carol Walker with Jane Velez-Mitche
The House of Representatives voted on 6/6/18 to use your taxpayer dollars on cruel reproductive experiments on Wild Mustang Mares.
It is never okay to spay a mare unless she has cancer or a life-threatening condition.
The BLM released a Scoping Document on the Warm Springs Herd Management Area in Oregon that proposes spaying wild mares using ovariectomy via colpotomy. Despite massive public outcry and three lawsuits that ultimately stopped the BLM from proceeding with these so-called “experiments” in 2016, they proposed it again. This is not about controlling a supposedly out-of-control population of wild horses; this is not about actual data-driven scientific research and this is in no way, shape, or form humane, safe, or responsible treatment of the wild horses that the BLM is mandated to manage and protect. This is instead cruel, unsanitary, unethical, and lethal torture of wild mares. Under this treatment, many mares and their unborn foals die, and many others suffer horribly. Spaying is rarely done even with domestic mares, but when it is, the procedure takes place in a sterile hospital with a one-month recovery time. If done in the field, it is dangerous and the risk of infection and death is extremely high.
Since 2012, the BLM has performed fertility control treatments on roughly 8,500 wild equines.
The Cattle Industry
Today, there are millions of cattle on our public lands, but far fewer wild horses are left. The enormous public lands comprise areas larger than the size of France. It is untrue to say that there is not enough room for the horses to live out their natural lives in their natural habitat. The cattle have decimated the land while horses have always been part of the natural balance. While cows chew cud and put nothing back into the land, the horses spread seeds from their mouths and manure that keep the land environmentally sound. However, unless drastic steps are taken, these noble creatures will be destroyed in the name of greed. This is all about AUMs, or Animal Units per Month. For every Wild Horse that is removed from the public lands, a cow and calf can replace that one horse. That is ultimately what the ranchers and cattlemen want.
The truth is there is no Wild Horse over-population problem.
There is, however, a Wild Greed and Avarice problem.
Decades of mismanagement by the Department of the Interior, alleged graft and corruption within the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and cruel, costly roundups to run a Wild Horse Adoption Program that has never worked are among the main contributing factors that have thrust America’s wild herds into a downward spiral toward suffering, slaughter, and death. The BLM encourages people to adopt these majestic animals, but the treatment they have received over the years has frequently been less than regal and, in far too many cases, downright inhumane. Capture is often torturous and thousands of horses have died horrible deaths in the process. Mass graves of wild horses killed by the BLM and poachers have been well documented and published. This failed adoption policy was always a poor substitute for an effective and humane management plan which the American people were more than happy to support with taxpayer dollars. Herd Management Areas (HMAs) were systematically decreased in size or eliminated, allowing fewer rangelands for the horses.
Back in 1959, it was the courageous Velma Johnston, better known as Wild Horse Annie, who first inspired the passage of legislation to preserve and protect America’s Wild Mustangs and Burros.
Former Rep. Nick Rahall has repeatedly tried to overturn the Burns Amendment since 2005, and Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation and others have worked tirelessly to protect and preserve these noble animals.
Protection & Preservation
Wild horses and burros deserve to be protected. They are part of America’s heritage. To capture a wild horse is to strip away the spirit and dignity of this proud and noble creature. To watch wild horses being run into a sales ring at a slaughter auction is to watch an atrocity that is so sad that it defies description. The majority of Americans want these animals preserved and protected. They can be managed in the wild and they can be moved to a sanctuary where people from around the world can have the privilege of seeing them in their natural habitat. However, to begin that process, the Burns Amendment must be repealed. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no active legislation to repeal the Amendment.
Back in 1969, author Hope Ryden wrote America’s Last Wild Horses, one of the best and most comprehensive books on the history and plight of America’s wild free-roaming horses and burros. Her prophetic title is steadily and tragically becoming a reality.