Government and Industry Are Colluding to Eliminate America's Wild Horses -- Will incoming Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Stop Them?
Why are these animals being systematically eliminated by our government today? The answer lies in the chokehold that commercial interests have on federal public lands policy.
Incoming Interior Secretary Sally Jewell promised in her confirmation hearing to strike a better balance between the competing interests of industry and environmental protection. Her success - or failure - could literally determine whether America's iconic wild horses have a future on public lands in the West.
Responsibility for managing the nation's wild horses and burros lies with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency of the Interior Department. For four decades, the BLM - an agency operated by and for the livestock industry - has waged a war on America's wild horses.
The ranchers who influence BLM policy view wild horses as competition for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing on public lands. They want them gone, and the BLM has been only too happy to comply.
Using low-flying helicopters to stampede and round up wild horses, the federal government removes them by the thousands from public lands in the West each year. Once removed, the horses are warehoused in holding facilities. The BLM now stockpiles an astounding 50,000 wild horses in government holding facilities. By contrast, fewer than 32,000 remain free on the range.
The agency denies slaughter is the goal. But it's already happened with the sale of "truckload after truckload" of captured mustangs to a known kill buyer, Tom Davis. How can the BLM guarantee that no federally protected wild horses will ever again end up being brutally slaughtered when it continues to sell wild horses for as little as $10 a piece? It can't.
This is a solvable issue. Proven alternatives like fertility control stop the bloodshed, save us money and keep wild horses where they belong: on the range. This is the course our government should be pursuing for its wild horse program. It's a no brainer.
Will Sally Jewell deliver necessary cultural change to an agency that treats wild horses as pests to be hunted down with helicopters, rather than natural resources to be protected for future generations?
Wild horses are making their last stand in the American West. Failure is not an option.