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CALL to Action: Reject U.S. Government Proposal to Shoot Horses

July 23, 2008 | Horses / Hunting & Wildlife Management

JULY 2008, DARIEN, CONN. -- Following the latest obnoxious proposal this month from the U.S. government to kill thousands of horses, the international animal advocacy organization Friends of Animals again calls for a full moratorium on the government-sanctioned round-ups, sales and slaughter of free-living horses.[1]

The federal Bureau of Land Management set out in helicopters and harassed and chased roughly half the western herd of mustangs -- a group numbering 30,000 -- into a corral. And now, the officials are proposing to start killing them.

Environmentalists, The New York Times tells us, will go along with this violence because they see the mustangs as "top-of-the-food-chain bullies whose hooves and teeth disturb the habitats of endangered tortoises and desert birds."[2]

We at Friends of Animals are also environmentalists. We aren't calling these horses "icons" or "part of the imagery" of the west. We are calling for respect, and our government should deliver.

If horses are at the top of the so-called food chain, it's our government's fault. Where are the carnivore animals? We could put the blame for their absence squarely at the feet of the U.S. government and its predator-control schemes.

Conflict of Interest?

The Bureau of Land Management is charged with protecting wild horses and burros on the western rangelands. Yet it routinely rounds them up and passes them to private ownership. The bureau is poised to shoot several thousand of them (it plans to decide on the matter after a Congressional audit that's due to be completed in September). To justify this proposal, officials are complaining about expenses. Yet the bureau allows ranchers to enjoy leases to the rangelands for a pittance. Ranchers who claim mustang "overpopulation" degrades the environment. Balderdash.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about 2 million mustangs in the wilderness.[3] Today, there's a total of 60,000 (if that many). This community of horses is degrading the environment, but the owners of 3 million cattle are not?

"We must stop supporting the profits of ranches," said Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral. "For those who respect free-living animals, it's simply not enough to express outrage at the proposed shooting of horses. We need to end the cycle of violence. It's high time we acknowledge the connection between horsemeat and hamburgers."

 addiction to animal products.
Priscilla Feral points out the unavoidable root of the problem: addiction to animal products.

Just two years ago, the Bureau of Land Management relaxed the rules and regulations governing ranchers on public land, cutting back on conservation provisions, and allowing ranchers significantly more control. The opposite pressure should be occurring. Ranchers do not merit the support of the government while they siphon land and resources and push free animals to the brink of extinction -- and then blame horses for the mess.

Then we have Jay Kirkpatrick, an experimenter who directs the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana, quoted in The New York Times as saying insufficient weight is being given to birth control for horses. But animals in nature don't need to be controlled by a species that has such difficulty in controlling itself.

For three decades, the Bureau of Land Management has backed costly experiments with contraception as a way to continue aggressive management practices. Jay Kirkpatrick, together with the Humane Society of the United States, have promoted the invasive and disturbing tests of hormones and the immunocontraceptive porcine zona pellucida, or PZP, in free-roaming horses.

Terms like "overabundant" and "overpopulation" are liberally applied wherever free-living animals are deemed inconvenient. The underlying message is that, if not controlled, free-living animals will take over. This both reflects and supports the systematic acceptance of control, and treats all of nature as a zoo.

Recommendations for Action from Friends of Animals:

Go to the root. This is a question of who gets the land: free-living animals, or cattle ranchers. The key step each of us can take in support of horses is to adopt a plant-based diet.

Oppose the BLM's proposal. If you've seen more than enough debates about whether the land can support horses and burros while all along the government supports the real environmental threat -- animal agribusiness -- tell the BLM now, using the link you see here. Or call the BLM toll-free: 1-800-710-7597. Let them know these mustangs should never have been corralled in the first place. Let the horses go, and let them be. Allow them the dignity of freedom.

Then find your representative in Congress, ring them up at 202.224.3121, and explain that real environmental awareness means questioning the influence of corporate profit-seekers over laws and agencies. Say "no" to horse-killing. And tell them you oppose roundups too.

Support Friends of Animals' new radio and television announcements. We're buying 30-second and one-minute announcement spots, asking the public to call the BLM and oppose the horse-killing proposal. You can sustain our public announcement throughout the audit period leading up to the BLM's decision. Let's make the most of the window of time these horses have. Invest in our public education effort; donate here.

Thank you for teaching respect for the autonomous animals of our Earth. Thank you for telling our government no to killing horses.


[1] We have previously called for a repeal of the (2005) Burns Amendment, which reversed a 34-year prohibition on the slaughter of wild horses by enabling the BLM to sell off horses over 10 years of age.

[2] Felicity Barringer, "On Mustang Range, a Battle on Thinning the Herd" - New York Times (20 Jul. 2008).

[3] Deanne Stillman, "Wild Horses Aren't Free" - Los Angeles Times (2 Jun. 2008).

Friends of Animals, founded in 1957, advocates for the right of animals to live free according to their own terms.


I am an animal advocate. I am an environmental advocate. The wild mustangs belong on the land of their ancestors. It is the cattle rancher-agribusiness that has taken precedence over their right to their land. The BLM, our government has wrongly allowed this to happen. They must be returned to their lands. The root cause of this situation is consumption of meat. In many ways this consumption has created huge environmental problems for the whole country.

It is truly a travesty to learn that they are planning this horrible act!!!! God put these beautiful creatures here for us to admire & enjoy! These horses deserve to be protected....not rounded up & destroyed!!!!! Let's leave them free.....they are too beautiful to let them kill them!!!!

By the Grace of God, I have a dial-up connection and cannot view the horrors of the YouTube Video, nor would I want to. It is not necessary for me to view such a horrible film, as I am sure that it is gastly! What can be done in this world to stop the slaughter of these beautiful and majestic animals? [Blog editors' note: The video does not show horses being slaughtered. It's the television spot airing for the next two weeks to press the BLM to halt the removal of horses from public lands, and the killing of these free-living animals. Contributions to FoA's campaign are needed and appreciated. ]

How can you take something thats not yours and sell it for food and greed like the wild mustangs. These horses belong to no one!!! So where does anybody get off on going in and taking them and selling them to Mexico and Canada, This should be against the law, Why would it not be? I don't own the land or you no one, so how can they have a right to them? huuummmm!!! thats a good question to ask hua? Leave them alone stop shipping and slaughtering them

About 23 yrs ago, I lived in Wyoming on a street that was basically brand new. The houses were about 1/4 mile apart. One morning, around 4:00am, I couldn't sleep and sat by the window waiting for the sun to rise. I saw the most beautiful thing.....wild horses running by. It took my breathe away. I used to set my alarm daily, so I could see this wonderful site. When I moved back to CT, a few months later, I knew I would never see anything like that again. Unfortunately, I guess that I'm right. I just can't understand, why we as humans, just can't let animals be. We are truly the problem! We are in control, but constantly abuse it. We are the prime reason why the environment is the way it is, as well as all animals are in danger of extinction. When will it all stop? I feel that we are few who respect and love animals and nature, in comparison to most people in general. I feel helpless (when it comes to helping these creatures, and all animals actually)because we are outnumbered. Most people don't really care if the horses die. They are too worried about themselves. And most people simply don't have all of the facts. I'd like to know other ways that I can help. Any suggestions are welcome Blog editors' note: The blog item gives contact information for the BLM, so please register you protest. Also, Friends of Animals' TV and radio spots start airing today and run the next two weeks. Offering a donation toward this campaign would be much appreciated.]

Everyday I am more disgusted with out government. why on earth would you kill these innocent victims. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

This is so sick! These horses have every right to live just as we do.

After viewing the "pro slaughter" video I am amazed at the number of women who own or run stables and view horses as commodities. I guess I assumed if you worked with animals in a riding facility you wouldn't see them in such a negative light. I also expect so much more from women. I guess I am wrong.

Please just let the horses go free since shooting them is only in the interests of the ranchers, not the animals. Why can't the government leave anything alone?

There is no purpose to killing these horses.