Wild horses may have a new chance at running free thanks to U.S. Reps. Dina Titus (Nevada) and Steve Cohen (Tennessee) who are asking Congress to halt the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 32 scheduled wild horse roundups across several Western U.S. states.
The representatives spoke up for wild horses and burros in a letter to Congress critiquing the BLM’s plan to increase the number of wild horses targeted in the helicopter roundups and decrease more humane fertility control plans.
The BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program is supposed to protect the wild horses who call the 26.9 million acres of public land “home.”
Instead, BLM consistently uses cruel, dangerous methods to round up and transport wild horses and burros to holding corrals. Animals are frequently harmed or killed in the process.
During a Lady Freethinker investigation at a recent helicopter roundup, an observer witnessed firsthand the dangerous and deafening use of helicopters for pushing panicked wild horses into corrals to be transported to overflowing confinements.
The representatives’ letter questions the BLM’s plans for 2024. The letter brings attention to BLM’s lack of fertility control plans, significant increase in target roundup numbers (20,942 for FY24 compared to 6,876 in FY23), dangerous roundup methods, and questionable euthanasia policies.
Despite more than tripling the target number of roundup horses for 2024, BLM’s plan calls for fewer horses (1,320) to receive fertility vaccinations. Fertility vaccinations are a more humane and cost-effective method of controlling wild horse populations.
Currently, over 60,000 wild horses and burros who once ran free are now in confinement. These holding corrals cost almost 70% of BLM’s herd management budget, wasting tax dollars while putting these wild animals at greater risk of accidents and disease.
Titus and Cohen argue that BLM is not following Congressional directives, and is actually moving efforts backwards by not utilizing more cost-effective, readily-available options.
“Tripling the number of animals gathered in the coming months is antithetical to BLM’s directive to ‘humanely capture’ wild free-roaming horses and burros and set them up for adoption,” the letter to Congress reads. “This is exacerbated by the use of helicopters that regularly create frightening and deadly situations for horses and burros.”
Hundreds of wild horses have died from lacerations, broken limbs, heart failure, and even snapped necks through helicopter-assisted roundups.
Seventeen horses were killed during a roundup in the Roberts Mountain Complex in Nevada. Some were euthanized due to “pre-existing conditions” — including partial blindness, fractures, club feet, and missing teeth. However, most of the “pre-existing” conditions were directly caused from roundup-related injuries to horses of all ages, from foals to seniors.
Transportation is also dangerous. At the Roberts Mountain Complex roundup, seven terrified wild horses died when the semi-truck transporting them tipped over.
Just months prior to the semi-truck accident, another roundup resulted in the deaths of 39 horses – including 12 foals.
Lady Freethinker applauds Reps. Titus and Cohen for their efforts to hold BLM to its directive of protecting these wild animals through more humane and more effective resources.
If you have not already, sign our petition to end deadly helicopter gathers in favor of safer, more cost-effective approaches involving humane fertility control.