Mustangs are not an “invasive species” or even a “feral” domestic horse. The fact is they are nearly identical to the horse that existed in North America 57 million years ago. We believe that Mustangs are reintroduced animals to the continent and should be allowed to roam free, as the 1971 Act that protected these horses originally intended.
The History of Wild Horse “Management”
In 1971, in response to the repeated cruelties and wanton slaughter of the horses, wild mustangs and burros were designated to be a federally protected species. Congress approved The Wild Free-Roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act of 1971.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a division of the U.S. Dept of the Interior, is the agency tasked with managing America’s wild horses and burros. It has been sorely mismanaged for decades.
The BLM has allowed privately-owned cattle to graze on over 80% of federally protected land, while limiting the horses’ area to about 18%. Cattle actually OUTNUMBER horses on FEDERAL lands by 30:1. These cattle ranchers graze their cows on public lands through a Federal permitting system where they pay about $2-$4/acre to graze, whereas it would cost them upwards of $14/acre to graze their cattle on private lands.
The BLM also has a long-standing relationship with big oil companies, whose desire to drill for natural gas on federal lands (fracking) is overshadowed only by their greed for more corporate profit. The horses are currently living on land that they want to frack. These are federally protected lands, but private oil companies are allowed to come in, drive off the wildlife, then frack to their heart’s content.
Roundups: U.S. Taxpayers Fund Heinous Animal Cruelty
10 years ago, The BLM began “responsible management” by removing wild horses and burros from the range so cattle could take their place. These actions are against the advice of their own study by National Academy of Sciences (see report here), Humane Society of the United States, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Wild Horse Education, The Cloud Foundation, Return to Freedom, and pretty much ANY wild horse advocacy group in the world.
Horrifying helicopter rounds ups are the BLM’s method of choice to remove indigenous horses and burros, employing the anointed government contractors, Cattoors Livestock Roundup Company These insanely cruel roundups maim and kill a great deal of horses. Those who survive are put into small pens and fed poor quality food with little to no medical care.
There is no training, no working with any of these captured wild horses. They have no shade nor any other way to protect themselves from the elements, whether it be 110+ degrees or a raging snowstorm. In the wild, they would find trees, valleys, rocks, etc. to shelter in but they cannot do that in a flat pen.
These roundups and ensuing incarceration of the horses cost taxpayers $77 million per year.
The BLM continues to round up the horses under the guise that the horse and burro numbers are too high to maintain. The BLM fails to acknowledge the political pressure brought by millionaire ranchers to permit their cattle to graze on federal lands.
In addition to private cattle owners, oil companies wishing to conduct fracking on federal lands have encouraged more round ups of wild horses.
The BLM continues to allow the interests of a few private corporations to dictate their policies regarding the very animals they were created to protect.
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The Facts About Wild Mustangs
Fact: BLM ignores science.
The inhumane, needless roundups have done the exact OPPOSITE of what the BLM “management plan” intended, which is ironic since it’s exactly what the SCIENCE said and all of the advocacy organizations warned about!
Public lands are a natural habitat. Tampering with natural ecosystems wreaks havoc.
The BLM has refused to employ the sensible use of PZP, which is birth control that is darted into the mares once per year. It’s 85% effective and gets more effective as the mares age. PZP can actually keep the mares healthier as they live longer, because they don’t give birth every single year.
PZP costs $20 per dart. It would cost the BLM almost nothing to use what is widely accepted and used in many private rescues that care for mustangs. It works…but he BLM would rather squander taxpayer dollars.
Fact: BLM mismanagement is rampant and unchecked
In Summer 2016, the BLM outlined a plan to sterilize mares in the wild by basically slicing them open and performing hysterectomies in the wild.
Upon court order, the BLM reversed their plan but immediately expressed a desire to kill the 45,000 horses in captivity “because they are not adoptable.”
Mismanagement of financial resources is what lead to the threat to kill these horses.
U.S. taxpayers have little desire to fund a corrupt governmental department that answers only to cattle ranchers and oil companies. The problem is that most taxpayers don’t know this is going on.
Fact: BLM Adoption Program is Ineffective
The BLM Adoption Program adopted out 2,700 horses last year (out of 50,000 horses in captivity). That is what’s called mismanagement.
The fact is there is no market for wild horses because they’re WILD. Wild horses are not domestic horses and it takes very specific, highly experienced people to manage a wild horse. This is why the horses should remain on the range and managed correctly.
It costs a fraction of what is currently being spent to allow wild horses to remain on the range.
The BLM has long-standing issues with corruption and how it handles the horses it is supposed to protect. It purposefully tried to railroad Madeline Pickens’ mustang sanctuary, while at the same time knowingly selling over 1,800 horses to slaughter. They refuse to abide by any knowledgeable agency’s recommendations and by doing that, create even more issues.
So the question, why don’t they treat the horses with fertility control? PZP is very cost-effective and efficient. But it’s clear the BLM would rather spend your tax dollars catering to cattle ranchers, oil companies and shady kill buyers.
Fact: There are NO Excess Wild Horses, Only Excess Cattle.
Many forms of propaganda have been spread by an organization called Protect the Harvest, a pro-round up/pro-slaughter PAC headed up by Forrest Lucas (Lucas Oil) and his deputy, horse slaughter radical Dave Duquette.
- Check out this link on the movie “Running Wild,” produced by Lucas-owned ESX Entertainment starring Sharon Stone, a propaganda film meant to confuse and misrepresent wild horse populations in order to promote Protect the Harvest’s agenda to take all public lands for themselves.
- Dave Duquette physically assaulted a long-time, dedicated horse lover/advocate at last years EQUUS Film Festival, whose title sponsor was…wait for it…Protect the Harvest! Here’s a link to our story–> here.
- Protect the Harvest is against any kind of animal welfare legislation, including being PRO puppy mill. Read more >>here<< about their attacks on the Human Society of the United States.
The actual ratio of cattle to horses on our public lands is 30 cattle for every 1 horse.
In its study, the National Academy of Sciences stated that the BLM roundups were not only unnecessary, but that the BLM should instead focus on using birth control or other alternatives when wild horse herds become too large. The NAS report stated very clearly that the BLM should not allow the horses to starve to death or die of thirst.
FACT: The horses that are rounded up are at a good weight when captured. The only horses who are found dying of thirst are because cattle ranchers illegally fence off watering holes so the horses are unable to get access to the water.
The BLM cannot maintain that they are rounding up horses for their own protection, as the horses are quite healthy in the wild.
These roundups are sadistically cruel and horses are killed in every single roundup.
- Small foals are run so hard and so long that their hooves literally fall off of their legs.
- Mares are so stressed from the helicopters and the long hours of running that they abort their foals.
- Horses are stressed and colic once they get to the pens
- Stallions risk life and limb to remain with their herd family, impaling themselves on the pens when separated.
So the question is: How is the government “protecting” these poor animals by rounding them up?
FACT: Rounded Up Horses Live in Hellish Conditions
Once captured, the horses are put in pens without shelter; these horses are subject to 110+ degree weather in the Summertime and freezing temperatures during the winter, without any way of protecting themselves from the elements.
Conditions in these pens are appalling, with horses dropping dead from heat exhaustion or colic, without any medical help whatsoever. Wild horse photographer, Patty Bumgarner, witnessed a mare who had died while in the throes of giving birth. No assistance was offered to help the mare who under less stressful conditions, may have given birth without any issue.
Once a horse is under the care of humans it is the responsibility of those same humans to provide adequate shelter, feed and medical care.
The truth is that while the BLM continues to insist that the horses are better off in pens, the mortality rate of wild horses is higher than when allowed to remain in the wild.
Fact: The BLM Does Not Keep All of the Horses It Captures
Many of the horses who are difficult to place end up being brutally slaughtered in Mexico or Canada. Indeed, the BLM was found to be selling hundreds of horses across the border for the purpose of slaughter, which defies Federal law to prohibit such actions (read more here). BLM horses and burros are constantly at risk of being sent to slaughter.
The BLM purports that it is too costly to maintain the herds in the wild, but in truth the roundups cost close to $1 million dollars EACH. That’s a million of YOUR tax dollars spent for no actual purpose except to help private millionaire cattle ranchers and Big Oil corporations.
There are over 50,000 wild Mustangs in holding facilities all over the West. This mismanaged program costs U.S. taxpayers $77 million each year. Allowing those horses to remain on the land costs nothing.
FACT: How You Can Stop The Roundups
Contact Your Representatives: Write, call and email your Congressperson and Senators WEEKLY. Urge them to stop the BLM’s mismanagement of wild horses and burros. Let them know that you, a taxpayer and horse advocate, will not sit by and watch our Mustangs and burros be treated inhumanely. Take 15 minutes tonight and write to express your guarded outrage (no angry, hateful comments please – they fall on deaf ears).
- Link to easily find your Congressperson, click–> HERE
- Link to easily find your Senator, click–> HERE
Don’t waste time with online petitions
Online petitions rarely if ever do anything more than bring awareness to an issue. They give the signer a false sense that “something will happen now.”
Complaining or whining to each other on social media will not change things.
As citizens, we all must speak up to hold our government accountable. Social media is a really great way to do that but don’t fall into the trap of expressing yourself on social media while your legislators go about their business.
Write, call and email them once per week. This will keep the issue relevant and prevent your representatives from conveniently forgetting that the government institution (BLM) that was created to protect our nation’s wild horses and burros is what’s actually destroying them.
Please tell your representatives that you want the mustangs to remain “wild and free.” Unless the BLM is forced to stop the roundups, we will see a complete extinction of an American icon.
Hanaeleh is a 501(c)(3) (Tax ID 20-3255341) Nonprofit horse rescue operating in Southern California since 2004 and every penny donated goes to the horses.
We are 100% volunteer-run and we’re a Verified Rescue with Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.
We rescue all breeds and ages of horses, and after we rehabilitate them, we work to find them new loving homes. When horses are not adoptable due to severe neglect or abuse, we provide sanctuary for them to live out their days knowing they’ll always be loved and cared for.
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