According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 45,000 wild horses should be killed to protect lands and save other species. The Bureau of Land Management was launched in 1946 by President Harry S. Truman with the following goal “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.”
In 2016, it is estimated that the BLM manages over 700 million acres of “subsurface mineral estate” located beneath lands in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
To control the number of wild horses, the agency has announced that it might have to kill 45,000 of them. About 1,000 burros – small donkeys might also be euthanized. The Bureau of Land Management is also pushing another option, sell the 45,000 wild horses and the burros – but the agency is not very optimistic that this is a viable option. The reason?
They believe these wild horses and burros are “unadoptable” meaning they are over the age of 5, and not many people will be interested in purchasing or adopting them. Horse lovers and animal rights advocates are bashing the Bureau of Land Management for its decision. Humane Society Senior Vice President of Programs & Innovations Holly Hazard said in a statement:
“The decision of the BLM advisory board to recommend the destruction of the 45,000 wild horses currently in holding facilities is a complete abdication of responsibility for their care.”
The Humane Society went on to say:
“Over the past 20 years, the BLM has maintained round-up and removal as a primary management strategy for wild horse and burro populations on America’s western rangelands – an effort which has led to a financially unsustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program. By focusing massive efforts on removing horses and burros from the range, without treating those horses remaining on the range with any form of fertility control to limit population growth, holding facilities throughout the United States have become overburdened.”
In a lengthy report, the BLM is defending and explaining its recommendation to kill the wild horses. The wild herd occupies about 31.6 million acres of public land, and their presence is a menace to native species. The thousands of wild horses compete with native grazers (cattle, sheep) for limited forage and water. The wild animals also pose a threat to the environment. More from the experts on that problem:
“Grasslands are protected by “biotic crusts” that consist of loose soil held together by tiny cyanobacteria, lichens, mosses, and green algae. They serve as a fragile glue that keeps desert soils from being washed or blown away. But these crusts are pulverized by horses, leading to poor water absorption, reduced fertility, and long-lasting environmental damage. Grasslands are disappearing as wild horse hooves crush biotic crusts, encouraging erosion that leaves wide swaths permanently degraded, replaced with barren rock.”
Additionally, the cost of caring for those 45,000 wild horses is astronomical. From 2012 to 2016, $291 million of taxpayer money have been spent on wild horse and burro management. Every year, more than $49 million is dedicated to the 46,000 captured feral horses in off-range corals.
In comparison, the budget allotted to save many endangered species is only $29 million; wild animals are, directly and indirectly, driving some species to extinction. Some people want to start a petition and save the wild horses while others say with the degrading ecosystem, natural resources will be sparse, and the animals will starve to death in a few years. The middle ground is to hope that farmers and residents will adopt some of the horses and save them.