Feds Want to Destroy 45K Wild Horses

Holding pens are overcrowded; critics say Bureau of Land Management is mismanaging
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2016 7:33 AM CDT
Feds Want to Destroy 45K Wild Horses
In this Oct. 17, 2007, file photo, wild mustangs from the Kiger Management Area near Diamond, Ore., are shown.   (Jamie Francis/The Oregonian via AP, File)

There are 45,000 horses no one wants, and the US government is suggesting destroying them all, the Verge reports. In what an exec for the Humane Society calls "a complete abdication of responsibility for their care," the Bureau of Land Management's National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board has recommended euthanizing the horses, removed from public land and placed in holding pens over the years so there'd be more room for cattle. The horses are available for adoption, but the pens are now crammed and the costs have ballooned, per the BLM: $49 million last year alone, or almost half of the board's annual budget. A Humane Society press release calls it "long-term mismanagement" at the hands of the BLM, which the Humane Society says could more effectively use birth control to manage the horse population.

Still others point out the unseemliness of removing wildlife from its natural habitat to make room for profit-generating cattle. But not everyone is critical of the plan. RT.com notes that the horses trample on and kick up the protective layer of topsoil that lies over the country's grasslands. And per a December 2015 Slate article, these horses aren't technically natives: They're the "feral descendants of animals brought by Europeans in the past few hundred years," and that timespan has been too short for US plants and wildlife to acclimate to the equine intruders. The horses can be adopted for $125 a pop, but RT.com notes that even if all 45,000 horses were scooped up, that would total just under $6 million—not even close to the $49 million spent on them just last year alone. (Abused horses are finding new life helping veterans.)

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