Beef and dairy might be staples in most American’s diets, but did you know how ruinous beef and cattle production is for the well-being of the planet? These industries are heavily responsible for emitting large amounts of methane and nitrous oxide and for destroying rainforests and grasslands in order to create more space for grazing, all of which propels climate change. For us, and the planet as a whole, these hazards are slowly accumulating. But for other species whom the livestock industry considers either competition and/or pests, the dangers are both life threatening and extremely imminent.

Here in the United States, a whopping 155 million acres of public lands is reserved for the Bureau of Land Management’s grazing program. When combined with private lands allocated for the same purpose, we find that 41.4 percent of all land in the Continental United States is used for grazing cattle, compared to just 9.1 percent for urban and rural residential. Seems a tad out of balance, wouldn’t you say? And yet, for the nation’s cattle ranchers, this simply isn’t enough. They’re constantly digging into their deep pockets to sway the government to provide more space for grazing. Even worse, they’re also doing everything they can to forcibly eliminate the wildlife that naturally resides in these areas.

Wild horses and burros have been among their main targets for years, and if these ranchers get their way, these species will soon become extinct. According to a petition on Care2, the livestock industry is currently lobbying for the removal of 50,000 of the 67,000 wild horses and burros that remain on public lands. Moreover, they’re pushing for the slaughter of another 46,000 wild horses that have already been captured and are now being held captive in government holding facilities. Such actions would not only jeopardize the survival of these species, which are already outnumbered 50-to-1 by cattle but would also cause further detriment to our public lands.

Sign this petition on Care2 urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the U.S. Congress to:

  1. Oppose any effort to lift the prohibition on selling captured wild horses and burros for slaughter and killing of healthy wild horses and burros.
  1. Oppose budget language authorizing the BLM to strip wild horses and burros of their federal protections and turn them over to state, local and other federal agencies, which would then be allowed to kill the animals.
  1. Oppose the surgical sterilization of wild free-roaming horses on the range as a management tool. This approach takes the “wild” out of wild horses by destroying their natural, free-roaming behaviors.
  1. Require the BLM to increase the use of the PZP birth control vaccine as a humane alternative to roundup and removal of wild horses from their homes on the range. This approach was recommended by the National Academy of Sciences as a “more affordable option than continuing to remove horses to long-term holding facilities.”

In addition, it’s vital that each of us make sustainable food choices because the biggest difference we can make for wild horses and burros, not to mention the planet as a whole, is by leaving beef and dairy off our plates. Check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign to learn more.

Image source: ANTON GUTMANN/Shutterstock