Government Horse Roundups Are Employing Dangerous And Expensive Tactics
Nevada is home to the largest population of wild horses in the nation. It is also the site of taxpayer-funded roundups and removals, which have proven to be not only costly and ineffective management strategy, but a danger to the lives of all species involved.
The Bureau of Land Management recently conducted a wild horse roundup in the Pancake Complex northeast of Tonopah, Nevada. With the help of helicopters and other extreme measures, the BLM removed 2,054 wild horses from public land, 3 News reports.
According to the BLM website, the bureau “gathers and removes wild horses and burros from public lands to protect the health of the animals and health of our nation’s public rangelands. In some locations, the BLM also uses birth control to slow the growth of wild horse herds. Absent management and natural predators, wild horse herds can double in just 4-5 years and quickly outgrow the ability of the land to support them.”
“The gather was crucial to ensuring the health of public lands within the Complex as well as the wild horses in the area, both of which are at risk due to herd overpopulation and exceptional drought conditions,” Robbie McAboy, Ely District Manager, told News 3.
To animal rights advocates and many others, these tactics are violent and unnecessary.
“They are a blunt instrument wielded as part of costly and inhumane system of government wild-horse management,” reports the wild horse conservation group Return to Freedom. “By any name, roundups typically involve the permanent removal of wild horses and burros from their home ranges. Roundups are especially dangerous when conducted using helicopters that drive fleeing wild horses over long distances, often over rough terrain. Once trapped in pens, panicked family bands and herds are torn apart — with even the foals taken from mares — as government contractors separate them by gender and age.”
After capture, wild horses that are considered less adoptable, because of their older age, may be released back onto the range, with the mares treated with fertility control.
Some of the horses will be adopted by private citizens, but far more will spend the rest of their lives in government holding facilities before eventually being handed over to kill buyers.
Roundups have cost the American taxpayer $53.2 million since 2006, according to the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC).
An AWHC poll found that 74 percent of American voters across the political spectrum do not want public tax revenue going to the BLM’s helicopter roundups of wild horses and burros.
At least 75% of Americans oppose the BLM’s current plan to remove 19,000 wild horses from western public lands. Further, 88% of those polled want stronger federal protections to be established for wild horses and burros on public lands, preventing future roundups.
The BLM intends to reduce wild populations to pre-protection levels of 17,000, a number that Congress called “fast disappearing” when it passed the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971.
As the BLM’s roundups grow in magnitude, so do calls to ban the use of helicopters to stampede and capture the animals, both by grassroots organizations and potential federal legislation.
As AWHC reports, in 2021, 69 members of Congress voiced support for federal funding for fertility control vaccine programs in the management of wild horses and burros in the wild, a humane alternative to roundups.
“This is one issue on which Republicans and Democrats agree on. America’s wild horses should be protected and stay wild on our public lands, not brutally rounded up and slaughtered,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHC. “The majority of voters also side with Congress in supporting birth control options to manage herd populations.”
“Clearly the BLM and its approach to managing herds of wild horses and burros is out of touch with the American public,” Roy continued. “Unfortunately in many Western states, the BLM is gearing up to host so-called adoption events that often end sadly for the horses and serve as a systemic reminder as to how broken the BLM’s herd management program is.
Congresswoman Dina Tutus introduced the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act to eliminate the use of helicopters in BLM gathers, employ more cowboys, and explore humane alternatives to protect these icons of the American West which remain a source of pride for Nevada residents.
I introduced the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act to eliminate the use of helicopters in BLM gathers, employ more cowboys, and explore humane alternatives to protect these icons of the American West which remain a source of pride for Nevada residents. #SaveAHorseHireACowboy pic.twitter.com/IbNJ2jIa34
— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) February 8, 2022
Click below to take a stand for wild horses and support the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act
Help Rescue Animals
Provide food and vital supplies to shelter pets at The Animal Rescue Site for free! →