Did you know that every year the federal government uses low flying helicopters to stampede thousands of wild horses into pens and clear them off public lands so that ranchers can turn a profit?
Friends of Animals is sickened by the Bureau of Land Management’s BLM devastating plan to wipe out nearly half of Wyoming's remaining wild horse population this summer and is asking our supporters to protest the plan. A public comment period is open until Jan. 10 prior to the BLM preparing an environmental assessment for the proposed summer 2014 wild horse gather in the Great Divide Basin Herd Management Area HMA.
"Although Congress has recognized that wild horses are an integral part of the natural system of public lands, the Bureau of Land Management BLM continues to use inherently cruel methods to gather and remove thousands of horses from public lands; flying helicopters above herds in extreme weather conditions for miles to drive horses into areas where they are loaded onto trucks for holding centers,” said Mike Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “Our Law Program is making wild horses a priority in 2014. We are currently developing strategies to promote the rights of wild horses to live free on public lands, and to ensure more transparency and accountability for Bureau of Land Management’s activities."
According to the American Wild Horse Preservation, just over two years ago, the BLM captured and removed 1,000 wild horses from Divide Basin. The proposed summer of 2014 roundup will remove another 164 wild horses from the Great Divide Basin HMA.
The Great Divide Basin HMA is partly located in the checkerboard pattern of mixed public and private land ownership in Sweetwater County and extends from Interstate 80 north to the southeast point of the Wind River Mountains in Fremont County.
The next step in the plan is unnecessary and unjustified as the BLM itself admits that the HMA has an appropriate management level of 415-600 wild horses as identified in the 1997 Green River Resource Management Plan. Population surveys conducted in May found approximately 439 wild horses. Wild horse populations will increase about 15 percent yearly based on previous fertility control; the current population is estimated at 504 and predicted to be 579 in summer 2014.
The only reason for this roundup is to appease local ranchers who want all wild horses removed from the checkerboard portion of the HMA, an area that comprises nearly half of the HMA.
“The idea that horses have to leave so that cows and sheep can graze is yet another reason why plant-based lifestyles have to flourish,” said Priscilla Feral, president, Friends of Animals.
In 1971, Congress passed the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act. This law was the first of its kind to protect wild horses and burros. The law stated that “wild horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West,” and that they “enrich the lives of the American people.” In that year the American government set aside 80 million acres as wild horse territory where herds could run free. Unfortunately, over the years, the amount of land set aside for wild horses has been reduced, so that today less than 40 million acres remain. And many of those acres do not offer the kinds of grazing lands that horses need.
You can read our Wildlife Law Program's comments right here.