The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a government board, has recommended that 45,000 wild horses and burros be killed to make room for beef mega farms — and the funding for the slaughter will come out of your pocket.
This would be the biggest taxpayer-funded horse slaughter in history.Animal advocates are devastated and outraged by the decision, volunteering to help with any alternatives to the killing.
"The decision of the BLM advisory board to recommend the destruction of the 45,000 wild horses currently in holding facilities is a complete abdication of responsibility for their care," Holly Hazard, senior vice president of programs & innovations at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said in a press release. "The agency would not be in this situation but for their long-term mismanagement."
Hazard claims that BLM has ignored alternatives to killing the horses, such as humane fertility control, for more than 20 years.Over that same period, horses and burros have been rounded up by the government and taken away from their wild homes to make room for cattle ranchers. At the government-run facilities, horses have been left out in pens in 100-degree heat with no shelter to protect them.
Although the BLM says that they do not send horses to slaughter, many of the horses they auction off end up in the slaughter pipeline. A recent investigative reportdiscovered that the BLM sold horses to a Colorado rancher who in turn sent those horses to Mexico for slaughter.
Fewer than 50,000 wild horses now remain in the wild, following the removal of around 270,000 mustangs from private land since 1971, according to In Defense of Animals (IDA).
"With wild horse populations critically low, the planned slaughter amounts to a genocide," the group wrote in a press release.
"The BLM continues to persecute wild horses through continued roundups to remove horses from the range so that public lands can be used by meat ranchers," IDA wrote, pointing out that the number of cows and sheep on public lands leaves wild horses outnumbered by over 30 to one. The massive ranches that supply factory farms with animals bred to be killed are also devastating the environment.
BLM's recommendation for a mass slaughter of the horses came last week, after they decided to drop sterilization efforts.
"Now we must remain vigilant to ensure that the agency does not pursue the 'euthanasia' of wild horses in holding or the castration of wild stallions," Ginger Kathrens, volunteer executive director of The Cloud Foundation who also serves on BLM's wild horse advisory board, said in a press release. Kathrens' vote was the only vote against the slaughter.
Now Kathrens is urging collaboration between the government and animal advocates to develop wide-scale, humane Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) fertility control programs — vaccinations rather than painful procedures — which the National Academy of Sciences recommended years ago. The BLM has used the PZP method at times, but has said that it's generally "not practical."
According to Hazard, the HSUS "stands ready to implement these alternatives at any time."
Exactly when (or how) the horses could be killed has not been decided yet — so there's still time to speak up for them.
(h/t: The Dodo)