At their meeting in Elko, Nevada Thursday and Friday, the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board discussed what to do with nearly 45,000 wild horses they consider unadoptable.
The board’s recommendation: Euthanasia.
The Elko Daily reported that the board recommended the Bureau of Land Management follow the stipulations of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act “by offering all suitable animals in long and short term holding deemed unadoptable for sale without limitation or humane euthanasia. Those animals deemed unsuitable for sale should then be destroyed in the most humane manner possible.”
The only member voting “NO” on the Advisory Board was Ginger Kathrens of the Cloud Foundation.
They also discussed putting more pressure on the government for additional funds to do more “gathers” in order to control the population.
Ben Masters, 27, recommended an ultimate goal of using birth control methods to control the population. According to the Elko Daily, “a representative of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign said the BLM is not using the contraceptive porcine zona pellucida in a way that is managing the population. Sterilization was also called invasive and barbaric and the board was asked to abandon it in favor of funding acceptable forms of contraception.”
The advisory board also recommended a focus “on the prioritization of the sage grouse habitat when removing excess animals.” Board member Ginger Kathrens abstained on that one.
The Humane Society condemned the board’s recommendation to kill the 45,000 wild horses, saying they would not be in this position if they had been more responsible in using fertility control in the first place:
“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 agency would not be in this situation but for their long-term mis-management. Alternatives to this proposal have been ignored for over 20 years. The HSUS stands ready to implement these alternatives at any time.”
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 fiscal year 2015, BLM spent $49 million maintaining these horses in off-range facilities, which constituted 46 percent of the entire budget of the agency’s wild horse and burro program. Such a large expenditure has limited the agency’s ability to properly manage wild horses on the range. The HSUS has long recommended the humane and sustainable option of implementing fertility control programs throughout the West.