The Bureau of Land Management continues to round up and remove thousands of wild horses, gathering more than it can responsibly care for in holding facilities, the head of the Humane Society of the United States says.
President and chief executive Wayne Pacelle says it is all at an enormous expense to American taxpayers, and in defiance of the spirit of the federal law designed to protect the horses.
Pacelle, writing in his blog, A Humane Nation, urged the bureau to immediately adopt the recommendations of a report prepared by the National Academies of Sciences’ National Research Council panel.
The report urged the agency to end its reliance on roundups and instead keep horses on the range, while humanely limiting reproduction through use of a contraceptive vaccine.
Pacelle pointed to the situation at the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center in Nevada, home to 1800 mustangs, where advocates have been pushing the bureau to install shade to help shelter the captive wild horses from the summer heat.
“Despite the fact that the BLM requires those adopting wild horses from the agency to provide adequate shelter, there is no shelter for the horses at the Palomino Valley National Adoption Center,” he said.
The Humane Society wrote to the bureau after several wild horse advocates brought the matter to its attention.
“Our request is hardly unprecedented,” Pacelle said, “since the BLM has installed shelters at other facilities, like the one in Ridgecrest, California.
“Thus far, the BLM has installed a sprinkler system, but no shelter. Newly confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell can take action to show she’s serious about reform of this program.
“While an important welfare issue for the horses, the situation unfolding at Palomino Valley is yet another symptom of a broken horse and burro program.
“The central problem is that the BLM continues to round up and remove thousands of wild horses and to aggregate more horses than it can responsibly care for at short-term and long-term holding facilities, all at an enormous expense to taxpayers and to horses, and in defiance of the spirit of the federal law designed to protect them.
“We have only about 40,000 wild horses and burros living on our public lands today, but we have almost 50,000 in holding facilities.
“This is not what the drafters of the original Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act could ever have imagined, and the BLM knows that it’s removing more animals from the range than the agency can possibly hope to adopt out to loving homes – yet the roundup and removal treadmill persists.
“This is the larger problem that Secretary Jewell confronts.”
The only way the bureau will ever right the sinking ship is to adopt the measure in the National Academies of Sciences’ National Research Council report, he said.
“We are ready to work with the BLM to address its continuing troubles in this area and to solve them for the long term. But in the meantime, the BLM needs to do right by the animals in its care and the best place to start is by providing the 1800 wild horses at the Palmino Valley Center with the shelter they so desperately need.”