The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has planned another round-up and sale of Nevada’s wild horses—moves that may place these animals in the hands of kill buyers who sell horses to slaughter houses.
Such round-ups have been occurring for decades under the premise of population control and a way to save horses from poor conditions associated with overpopulation and drought.
According to Magic Valley, the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council reported that the BLM has removed 8,000 horses on average from wild lands each year between 2002 and 2011. This year, the number of animals in BLM holding facilities outnumbers those left on ranges in the West.
A critic of the BLM’s management plan, Arizona Representative Raul M. Grijalva, a ranking member of the House Natural Resources subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulations, has been following this issue for the past ten years. He stated (via Magic Valley) that even livestock numbers are far above those of mustangs by a margin of three-to-one or more on federal lands designated as horse management areas.
These facts are quite staggering. What’s even more shocking is the amount of money pumped into this management plan. In 2012 the BLM spent more than $40 million of its $72 million budget just on holding facilities, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council also noted in their 451-page report that the BLM’s management plan may actually have the opposite effect of its intention. By stepping in prematurely when resources, including food and water, are plentiful, the BLM may be producing artificial conditions that perpetuate population growth, reports Magic Valley.
Now that we’ve got a bit of background information out of the way, let’s turn our attention to Nevada’s new wild horse round-up plan.
A removal of all wild horses and burros within five years from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge on the Nevada-Utah border has been approved, reports the Associated Press via the Review Journal.
What’s the reason for this extreme removal? Well, according to Joan Jewett, spokeswoman for the FAO in Portland, Ore., apparently the refuge was created just for pronghorn antelope and other native wildlife and so these horses and burros have a negative effect on the habitat (via Review Journal).
This seems quite hard to believe. But apparently not to a Federal judge who ruled, just this past Friday, that the government can go ahead and sell 400 mustangs from the wildlife refuge to a private contractor in Mississippi—the same private contractor that has kept faulty adoption records in the past.
J&S Associates (the Mississippi contractor in question) has been unable to account for the whereabouts of more than half of the 262 horses purchased from the government since 2010, reports KSL. Horse advocates have reason to believe that some of these horses have been sold to out-of-state slaughter houses and as the round-ups continue, more can be placed in this danger.
According to another KSL story, new rules have been added that require additional screenings of prospective adopters and full reporting of horse disposition data, including contact information for all adopters.
This may put some at ease but these new rules can’t necessarily ensure that our country’s wild horses are not ending up across the border in horrific horse slaughter plants.
Moreover, the amount of money spent to keep these horses corralled up is quite simply, ridiculous. Isn’t the BLM’s mission is “to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of public lands”? Aren’t wild horses a part of this health, diversity and productivity too?
It seems that Nevada’s wild horse round-up and others are a case of mismanagement and show a lack of understanding about this wild breed—a species that is ultimately meant to be in the wild, and not in the hands of people.
Image source: BLM Nevada / Flickr