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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.


Why can't we put them to use? With polution the way it is isn't it better to put police on horses in city parks. There has got to be a better way. Wild horses are beatiful and should be left alone. FoA comments: Yes, the horses should be left alone -- that is the better way -- using them in anyway (putting police on their backs) is not.

BLM: it is an abomination to shoot these magnificent free-spirited wild horses; leave them alone. It is the human being in the first place that has been and continues to cause the destruction of this planet we call earth. NO animal deserves to be killed for selfish human reasons, whether it is for food, animal testing or whatever; ALL animals were meant to live independently on their own terms, not ours. Do NOT mess with Mother Nature. THINK before you act. As stated, this is truly an obnoxious proposal. DON'T DO IT!

Do not kill these magnificent animals. They belong to all citizens of this country and not just an elite few who think they have the right to decide the fate of these horses. These people are shamefully egocentric not caring about anything except themselves. Have the moral fiber to do what is right to protect these anidmals.

Why are wild horses a threat to anyone? Are they bothering the public land leased to ranchers to graze their livestock? Some sort of private interest is involved in removing wild horses from open which the citizens of the country own...government merely holds it in trust and maintains it for everyone. Removing wild animals from our land is a violation...and a horrendous undertaking. Stop it.

I thought this is AMERICA Land of the Free. Leave these Horses where here long before us, so Please just mind you're own business, stay in Washington and work for THE PEOPLE, and LEAVE the HORSES and other animals alone. Tell the Ranchers to buy the land and then complain. I for one am tired of People picking on the animals, they bother no one.

America has become the most anti-Life nation in the history of the world. Corporate America is one giant killing machine. Profit is the ONLY thing that matters. Do they see that if they kill all Life, there will be no more profit?

If the funds aren't available to take care of these animals, the best thing to do is to leave them be. It is not our right to decide that killing them is a better alternative.

To kill, maim or torture ANY animal is WRONG. Unless an animal is sick and must be euthanized, we need to protect ALL of God's creatures with the same vigor that we use to protect humans. Animals are God's gift and to treat them as if they are our property to do with as we please is just plain WRONG. All animal cruelty must end!!!!!!

LEAVE THE HORSES ALONE! There are plenty of alternatives than shooting horses. Please a more humane alternative for these innocent horses. FoA comments: Letting the horses run free and ending the grazing of cattle on public lands is the moral alternative.

I have never known an administration so against the preservation of habitat and wildlife. This is just another notch in our governments belt for destroying what little is left of this country's wildlife. Way to go Washington and your ignorance for all that is sacred and should be preserved in this country!!