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Wild Horses Safe For now
 By Winniefield Park   •   5th Apr 2018   •   637 views   •   0 comments
Wild Horses Safe For now

There is good news, at least temporarily, for those who are against the culling of wild horses in the American west. Last July, the House Appropriations Committee voted to remove from Interior Department budget passages outlining the banning of wild horse culls. Since then, wild horse advocates have vehemently opposed the reintroduction of culls. Viewed as an invasive species consuming valuable pasture and water resources that would be better used for cattle ranching, the government has been accused of siding with ranchers, rather than respecting the cultural significance and humane treatment of wild horses and burros.

Phone calls and letters by the horse loving public to Congress members is credited with the government’s decision. But, the fate of the over 45,000 feral horses and burros held in Bureau of Land Management off range lands and holding facilities is still undecided. The cost to keep them there is $5 billion per year according to the BLM.

In the past, adoption to private individuals has been the primary way to reduce the wild horse population. But, over the last decade only a few thousand horses per year have been adopted by members of the public. This, according to the BLM, is too few to make a significant difference in the wild populations. Currently, it’s estimated that there are three times the number of wild horses than the land they graze on can sustain.

One proposed method of population control is contraception. But this too has met with resistance by animal rights advocates and by the high cost of implementing and maintaining such a program. There is a proposed adoption program for burros. In partnership with Defense Security Cooperation Agency and Heifer International, an agency that provides livestock to poor communities and farmers, the BLM would provide healthy and gentled burros to Guatemalan farmers who would otherwise not be able to purchase them.

Even though wild horses and burros are safe from slaughter for now, there are still more battles ahead. The 2019 budget may allow the BLM to use a “full set of tools” to maintain what is deemed sustainable herd sizes, and that could still include sale and slaughter.
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