FoA says ‘fight harder’: Wild horse activism needs to be fortified

FoA says ‘fight harder’: Wild horse activism needs to be fortified


In an uncertain world, one thing you can count on is Friends of Animals going to the wall for America’s wild horses and being a steward of the public lands they call home.


We don’t plan on giving up, we plan on fighting harder, and we need everyone who loves wild horses to follow suit. We hope you will feel empowered knowing that nothing can change the fact that Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program fills a niche between animal and environmental activism, and will continue to utilize the array of local, state, federal and international environmental laws to protect the rights of wild horses to live in an ecosystem free of human manipulation, exploitation and abuse.

There is legitimate concern that the new Congress will provide horse slaughterhouse inspection funding in next year’s appropriation’s bill—opening the door for horse slaughter in the United States.

The worst case scenario would be that Congress then orders the Bureau of Land Management to start slaughtering wild horses in holding facilities.

That is why we need people to start writing their representatives in Congress immediately to tell them not to authorize the killing of wild horses by Bureau of Land Management.

In terms of the Bureau of Land Management deciding on its own to slaughter wild horses, backlash matters. BLM is unlikely to do it if there is lots of public outrage.

Remember the uproar that ensued back in September when the Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board backed a position that could see some wild horses, who have been rounded up and imprisoned in holding facilities, euthanized. The position of the board, a mouth piece for the cattle and sheep industry—crashed and burned.

Also recall that the BLM halted its plan to surgically sterilize wild horses in Oregon because of litigation from Friends of Animals and other groups—a noteworthy victory for wild horses that likely made cattle and sheep ranchers cringe—but public backlash was also influential.

Americans can also urge Congress to amend the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 to make it possible to relocate wild horses to Herd Areas that existed in 1971 when it was passed. Six states have completely lost their wild horses populations because of the BLM’s mismanagement, and it’s time to give back to wild horses the habitat that was stolen from them. When Congress passed the WHBA, wild horses and burros roamed across approximately 53.8 million acres. Since the passage of the WHBA, wild horses have lost 22.2 million acres, more than 40 percent of their 1971 habitat.

These days humans often refer to “wild animals” or “wildlife” only to distinguish them from truly domesticated animals. Little thought is given to what “wild” should mean, and how to protect it. The truth is, a majority of all “wild” animals are not wild at all today. They are merely free-roaming, human managed animals.

But Friends of Animal’s definition of wild means no human exploitation and manipulation of the animal, period. Humans should not be managing any wild animal by keeping them in small “herd areas,” or limiting their population through culling, relocation or forcibly drugging them with fertility control drugs.
Accordingly, FoA’s Wildlife Law Program is focused on reestablishing the meaning—both legally and ethically—of the word “wild,” as used to describe wild animals and wilderness. The program seeks to ensure that wild animals can live independently and free in their natural habitats by promoting their standing in the law.

“Conservationists, wildlife advocates and particularly the government, have seemingly forgotten what ‘wild’ means with regards to the natural world,” says Michael Harris, director of Friends of Animals’ Wildlife Law Program. “This is made clear by the way we now regulate and manage public lands and wildlife. We want to remind people that we still have wildlife and wild places that need our protection. The Wildlife Law Program’s purpose is to make wildness relevant again for animals and for people.”