Editorial: Wild horse issue needs a compromise solution

Let the caterwauling continue.

The headline over a press release by a group calling itself the American Wild Horse Campaign reads, “80+ Organizations Oppose Trump Administration Plan to Slaughter America’s Mustangs.”

The trigger for the press release — more a fundraising appeal than legitimate polemic — was the release of the Interior Department’s FY2019 budget.

The budget includes this language: “The 2019 budget continues to propose the elimination of appropriations language restricting BLM’s use of all of the management options authorized in the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. This change will provide BLM with the full suite of tools to manage the unsustainable growth of wild horse and burro herds.”

Similar language was in the FY2018 budget, which has yet to be approved.

Wild horses being warehoused at Palomino Valley near Reno. (Jo Mitchell pix)

You see, the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act states: “The Secretary shall cause additional excess wild free-roaming horses and burros for which an adoption demand by qualified individuals does not exist to be destroyed in the most humane and cost efficient manner possible.”

But every federal budget since 2009, has stated, “Appropriations herein made shall not be available for the destruction of healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros in the care of the Bureau or its contractors or for the sale of wild horses and burros that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.”

Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, was quoted as saying in the press release: “Americans want our wild horses and burros protected, not brutally killed and slaughtered.”

Roy was further quoted as saying the horse advocacy groups support a humane and scientific path for wild horse management.

Yet when the Elko district of the Bureau of Land Management submitted a plan to control the wild horse population with fertility control and gathers without ever mentioning euthanizing excess horses, one of those advocacy groups sued saying such action upset the “social organization, band integrity, and expression of a natural behavior repertoire.”

Though wild horses are dying of starvation and thirst on the depleted and drought-stricken range, the self-styled advocates offer only litigation and wild claims. Letting the status quo continue is hardly humane.

When this issue came up in the House Appropriations Committee a year ago Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei, who supported a return to the language in the 1971 law, said during debate, “First let me say I hate this issue and I think everybody here hates this issue. The reality is we have a problem. We have to face it and we have to deal with it. … You think you’re being kind to horses? You’re not. Letting them starve out on the range? … Nobody’s adopting these things — these horses. Not very many people anyway.”

According to the BLM, if nothing is done, by 2020 there will be 130,000 wild horses and burros on BLM-controlled lands, though the range can sustain only 27,000.

That doesn’t count the 45,000 formerly wild horses and burros currently being kept in off-range pens and pastures at a cost of $50 million a year.

In is unlikely Congress will ever approve the wholesale slaughter of wild horses, but there should be a middle ground compromise that handles horses humanely, saves taxpayers money and protects the range, wildlife and agricultural interests.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

17 comments on “Editorial: Wild horse issue needs a compromise solution

  1. Rincon says:

    This is an issue that makes liberals look like idiots, along with some of their views on political correctness and welfare benefits. They lose a lot of votes by refusing to come towards the middle on these and other issues, but the money is at the extremes and without enough money, there aren’t enough votes.

  2. Steve says:

    This is an issue that makes conservatives look like idiots, along with their views on political in correctness and welfare ranching. They lose a lot of votes by refusing to come toward the middle on these and other issues, but the money is on the extremes, and without enough money, there aren’t enough votes.

  3. Bill says:

    The simple fact is that the “problem” of feral horses is that it involves horses and horses are non-human animals that are tied to a romantic historical narrative. It is not surprising that animals should evoke such emotional responses. Next time you are at the supermarket, check out the size of the “Pet” Section in relation to the whole store. We now have laws permitting companion animals in areas that had heretofore been taboo. We have persons claiming that there “therapy” animal is a squirrel, peacock or other creature. We have legislation dealing with the size of chicken housing. As a society, perhaps we are too affluent. Horse and burro meat in some societies are delicious entrees and provide needed protein to people. As the comment says, the wild horses and burros are reaching numbers that the ranges cannot sustain and we have 45,000 formerly free roaming horses and burros being kept in off-range pens and pastures at a cost of $50 million a year and which are far better off than a lot of humans. Does anyone else see the irrationality of these practices?

  4. Rincon says:

    Very true Bill. If we all had to slaughter and butcher our own meat, we would either have a lot more vegetarians or we would have no problem with slaughtering the excess horses for meat.

  5. Steve says:

    If irrationality means a lack of reason then I disagree; there are certainly reasons why horses, that are on our land, are being penned, tortured, killed, and made the topic of articles like these.

    Tragically,the reasons are because incredibly wealthy individuals, want, nay demand, the “right” to all that those horses have, even though they have no such rights.

    That land does not belong to the cows, and their multi millionaire owners and never did.

    All this fuss, about horses, is about those multi millionaires wanting cheap, taxpayer subsidized land to fatten their cows. Nothing else. And if they didn’t want it, they’d give a damn about how many horses there were or weren’t on the range and there damn sure wouldn’t be any 50 million dollars spent to keep them in pens.

    Fricken criminals.

  6. Bill says:

    It must be comforting to live in a world where all evils are explicable by blaming Capitalism or the rich.

    We also have a problem in many States of feral pigs.

    There are probably those that would recommend that in those areas where they are destroying the habitat that they be rounded up and put in pens, fed, doctored and permitted to be adopted, but only subject to the prohibition that they could not be used for human or animal food.

  7. Steve says:

    Not dressing the issue is hardly a way to resolve it.

    Those horses are an issue for one reason and one reason only; wealthy multimillionaire ranchers want those public lands to feed their cows so as to make more money.

    They give a damn about the horses, or how “woefully undernourished or under watered” they are otherwise.

    And if those feral pigs were eating the subsidized grass you can bet your bottom dollar they’d be in pens too. That is if shooting them, out of the backs of pick up trucks, or cutting off the water, on other peoples property for crying out loud, didn’t do the trick first.

    Funny how quickly people forget that cattlemen have been the scourge of the west, including private property owners, since as long as there has been a west.

  8. Steve says:

    Patrick is up to some shit.

  9. Bill says:

    Has he been using your name? That message about the evil rich sounded like Patrick and not you.

  10. Steve says:

    Yup. And it figures. Patrick loves putting words in other people’s mouths.

  11. Bill says:

    That is a dishonest, disgusting and childish act. On a blog which raises serious issues for discussion, there should be no tolerance of such infantile behavior.

  12. Steve says:

    “A Rose, is a rose, is a rose”

    -common sense
    -Mark Twain

  13. Click my name.
    Then rest your cursor over his name…

  14. You wouldn’t be misattributing again, would you Patrick?

    Gertrude would be rightfully angry.

  15. […] Interior Department’s FY2019 budget at one time included this language: “The 2019 budget continues to propose the elimination of […]

  16. […] in the U.S. but are legal in Mexico and Canada. The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act states: “The Secretary shall cause additional excess wild free-roaming horses and burros for which an […]

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