Mega-Mustang Removal Starts Week After Federal Investigation Confirms Government Agency Illegally Sold Nearly 2,000 Wild Horses for Slaughter
Lakeview, Oregon (November 2, 2015) . . . In the ongoing conflict between private, commercial interests and federally protected wild horses and burros living on public lands in the American West, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today begins a massive roundup of 1,500 wild horses in Oregon. Born free, the animals that will lose their freedom through this roundup will be made available for adoption or put in a permanent holding facility, according to the BLM. However, as we now know from a report from the U.S. Interior Department Office of Inspector General released last month, nearly 2,000 wild horses that were previously removed from public lands were illegally sold for slaughter by the BLM.
“The only thing standing between mustangs and certain doom is the American public, which opposes horse slaughter,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “We are putting a lot of effort to building a grass-roots army of activism.”
Over 21,000 citizens have signed an AWHPC petition in opposition to the massive roundup planned for Oregon. Should the roundup proceed, only 100 wild horses will be left in this 400,000-acre (625 square mile!) public land area in southeastern Oregon known as the Beatys Butte Herd Management Area (HMA). Today, there are more wild horses and burros warehoused in government holding facilities than remain free in the wild. The Beatys Butte roundup will add 1,400 wild horses to a holding system that is already collapsing with the BLM’s stockpiling of nearly 50,000 wild horses and burros in holding pens and pastures.
More humane and cost-effective population management alternatives exist to keep wild horse and burro populations free on the range. However, in spite of the anguish, the trauma and the suffering of wild horses and the cost to taxpayers, the BLM continues to use roundups as the primary method of managing wild horse and burro populations in the West.
According to AWHPC, the roundup is being conducted to appease the Beatys Butte Grazing Association, whose members receive taxpayer subsidies to graze livestock on public lands in the HMA. The petition asks the BLM to cancel the Beatys Butte roundup, implement a humane fertility control program to control and reduce wild horse population numbers over time, and develop a mechanism to allow ranchers to be compensated for voluntary relinquishment of grazing permits within the HMA.
The BLM allows just 100-250 wild horses to live in Beatys Butte, while authorizing ranchers to graze the annual equivalent of 1,700 cow/calf pairs there.
“Wild horses and burros are present on less than one fifth (just 19%) of the BLM land in Oregon that is grazed by livestock,” the petition states. “Therefore, conflicts between private livestock grazing and wild horses and burros foraging on public lands in Oregon can and should be resolved in a way that does not decimate our few remaining wild horse and burro herds.”
“There are many times I am proud to be an American,” said Roy, “but this is not one of those times that I am proud. I am, however, grateful for the nearly 20,000 Americans who signed our petition and who are helping us to build an army of voices and action to defend the freedom of America’s iconic wild horses and burros.”
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is dedicated to defending America’s wild horses and burros to protect their freedom, preserve their habitat, and promote humane standards of treatment. AWHPC’s mission to preserve and protect wild horses and burros in viable free-roaming herds on public lands for generations to come is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations.
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