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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.


If these horses are some kind of problem left free, then allow them to go to horse rescues. Don't kill them! Horses are extremely intelligent animals.

Let's stop this horror. Our country is getting more like China everyday! Soon nothing will be left.

Why are cattle allowed on public lands and horses are sent to slaughter for "degrading the environment"? Surely the cows do a lot more damage than the mustangs do. In any case, the land is PUBLIC, which should mean it belongs to whatever naturally lives there. Leave the horses alone. They're gorgeous intelligent animals who have every right to life as they chose to live it.

Humans usually consider themselves to be "at the top of the food chain," but in reality we are dependent on all the other species living on the planet. Krill, earthworm and bees are ecologically more important than humans. Humans could become extinct ans besides the species we have enslaved(domesticated), we would not be missed ecologically. Human intelligence is never a criteria for shooting people, eugenics is frowned upon. So it does not matter whether humans consider horses intelligent or not, all non -humans have their very own unique intelligence probably incomprehensible to us. Whether they are "gods creatures," remains to be seen, it hasn't helped non-humans used for their flesh, milk, and eggs. Maybe they would fare better if they were the Flying Spaghetti Monster's creatures.

Please do not contribute to increasing the threshold of unnecessary violence towards wildlife by killing thousands of wild horses to accommodate a glaringly obvious special-interests ranching agenda. The Bureau of Land Management's apparent lack of respect for wild, free, autonomous animal populations also becomes obvious with this latest proposed culling; it calls into question your true agency function: If by 'land management' the BLM seeks to turn every acre of wildlife habitat into a sterile wasteland populated only by wealth-building humans, then it's time the BLM be investigated and reorganized, or disbanded entirely.

What is going on with this Country of ares?What did the horses do to them that they want to kill them.Pretty soon there won't be any wild horses.

The idea that the U.S. Government is behind the systematic killing of wild horses flies in the face of what they are supposed to be doing with their nature and otherwise species conservation activities. It's not as if horses, mustangs, etc., are dangerous and predatory critters. Their numbers are far fewer than in the past, anyway, so to reduce their population further is akin to mass murder. They're not even in the domestic food chain like cattle or poultry and the like. They should not be driven to extinction by the careless decisions and then, acts of the U.S. Government who is there, supposedly to protect them.

There are people don't care about anything but money and themselves. They take the land and condenm who ever or what ever was there first.

I am absolutely outraged at the disrespect man has for our environment and animals. Slaughtering these beautiful horses is another disgusting example of animal abuse. God has provided us this world and it sickens me how some humans continue to abuse animals. How we care for the world and everything in it is a reflection on how we respect God and what he has provided for us. Animals are valuable and should be cared for like we do...........the difference is they lack a voice for themselves. It is our responsibility to properly care for them with love and compassion.

I just can’t understand, why we as humans, just can’t let animals be. We are truly the problem! 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 we need to educate people who don't know better. I feel we can help all animals even though we are outnumbered. Education is the key as well as modeling respect for the environment. Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.