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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.


Horses eat, sleep, mate and defend just like we do. The difference is that we do all these things in sophisticated ways but the basic acts are the same. There is a requital for any form of violence on living creatures, it may not be immediate. Every action has its reaction. This is the principle of requital epistemology which more than a few people are not cognizant of. Shall we go on to create problems that will require our resources to address or shall we be proactive? The ball is in our court. Culling of horses is not the best option.

Horses are being trreated better than the indians arre being treated. Horses are our history without their help we would not come has far has we have! Horses have a good mind and there are different ways to help them not kill them! Explore the other ways to help them! I have read the comments and there are alot of great suggestions - do not kill them just because it is easier - Horses are a living thing - treat them right! [Blog editors' note: Leaving horses on public lands is the answer.]

Why is it that some people think nothing of shooting animals cause they are supposedly in the way. I believe God put them here for a purpose, they have a right to live. We take all their lands and then get mad when the animal comes into our so called territory. Ever think they have nowhere to go no food to eat? Can't they see the beauty of these horses, they are free so leave them alone.

This is just wrong. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." ~Mahatma Ghandi Need I say more?

Why do some people righteously think that they are the only beings entitled to live on this earth? I can't fathom why people harbor the thought that all other creatures are imposing on "our" space. Why is it "ours"? Because we're bigger, stronger, more powerful? That is the coward's way and so very sad for all involved. Very, very sad.

I am ashamed of the Bush administration. They spend $800 billion of our money in Iraq and cannot spare some for our own country and animals. Thank you.

These horses have the right to live freely just like any other creature; apparently, we only believe that when it comes to human life. These creatures are not ours to use and manipulate, let them live as they were meant to.

We absolutely need to protect the wild horse herds of this country. Just like the wolf, the eagle and all the other wildlife. They are all precious and our childrens children still need to be able to see them and take care of them all.

I bought two beautiful horses from the BLM. One was four and the other was just a young colt. These horses are beautiful. I own two other horses. I love my mustangs. My life long dream is to go west and see the wild horses run free. They have a wonderful spirit. Please do not shoot horses.

it amazes me that people are able to come up with such stupid ideas and people actually consider them as intellegent ideas that help a community,. heard up and kill horses, slaughter wolfs.i bet non of these idiots even have jobs or the education to get a job, they have to much time on there hands and they just like anoying the rest of us, how come i dont see them issuing permits to cut down on the idiot population. i would even be happy to see a spray and nueter program to cut down on the idiot population.heres an idea, if you dont like the horses or wolfs and what they do as a natural way of life, MOVE, AND STOP COMING UP WITH STUPID IDEAS TO CONTROL THEM.the rest of us are tired of trying to explain right from wrong to these brain dead idiots.i seen rocks with a larger IQ.the majority wants these animals left alone, mayby thats why we win all the court if you cant get with the program, like i said MOVE and stop being a thorn in everybodys butt.