By Annoula Wylderich,
The Humane Dialogues
In Nevada, as well as other western states, teams of [wild] horse hunters are paid a bounty to scour public lands and capture an animal. The going rate was $350 per captured animal. I might mention that a couple of these contractors, some of whom had previously worked for the Department of the Interior, have made millions from their buddies in the BLM.
The Bureau of Land Management has a responsibility to American citizens as well as our wild horses and burros.
Over forty years ago, the Wild Horse and Burro Act was signed into law, in response to the wishes of the American people (and over objections by the cattle industry). The law mandated that wild horses be preserved on public lands.
Forty years later, we have to look back on what a farce that law was and how ineffective it has been towards carrying out its promises.
In Nevada, as well as other western states, teams of horse hunters are paid a bounty to scour public lands and capture an animal. The going rate was $350 per captured animal. I might mention that a couple of these contractors, some of whom had previously worked for the Department of the Interior, have made millions from their buddies in the BLM.
Wild horses are forced to run across some of the roughest terrain in the west, terrified by the helicopters used to frighten them. In the process, they smash their hooves on the sharp rocks, some actually running their hooves off. There have been documented incidents of foals who collapsed after wearing their feet to bloody stumps; some have been left to lie in agony for days before dying or being euthanized. Many horses die on the spot in the snow-covered terrain during the roundups, while others have perished in the holding pens. Pregnant mares, as well, have aborted their young.
Though the BLM regularly issues statements as to their intentions to conduct a more humane roundup and be more open to public input, this doesnít happen. In fact, more horses are added to the pens of privately owned ranches of BLM-connected friends. The animals will spend the remainder of their lives in these pens, in misery; or they might get shipped to a slaughterhouse across the border. In any case, I doubt the public had this in mind when they celebrated the passage of the WHBA.
While the BLM makes a media circus of issuing announcements or providing information sessions, hundreds of horses are being routinely run to death and also die of dehydration, stress and injuries. There is no refuting the video footage of advocates who have captured the roundups on film. Here, one can see helicopters smashing into animals, or view hired contractors kicking horses and burros in the head, jamming them with cattle prods, and generally abusing them. . .while government observers stand a few feet away, doing absolutely nothing.
Why is this happening? Because the cattle industry wants the public land in order to support privately owned cattle ranches. Unfortunately, the beef industry doesnít want horses around and the BLM is only too happy to comply. Friends stick with friends, especially when thereís money involved. Itís ironic that though horses are deemed a threat to the land, there are fifty times as many cattle as horses on the range. . .and the effects of long-term livestock grazing are detrimental to our resources. Many of the studies conducted by panels arenít going to publish the truth because members have ties to the cattle industry.
Sadly, there are only around 25,000 horses still left in the wild, with more than 20 million acres of mustang country no longer being occupied by mustangs. One has to wonder if future generations will still have any wild horses left freely roaming on public lands, or if they will only be able to view their majestic beauty in old western films.
To learn more about the roundups and to view video footage, check out Wild Horse Preservation.
If you are motivated to do something, you can contact your representatives, or write to President Obama and let them all know that you expect the BLM to handle horses humanely, by helping preserve them on public lands.
You can go a step further and reduce or limit your consumption of beef, which thereby reduces the demand for it and hits the cattle industry directly in the pocket. Decrease the demand and you impact the supply.