Thousands of wild mustangs could face horse slaughter if the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) receives approval to sell the horses without restrictions.
The BLM manages wild horse and burro herds on 26.9 million acres of public lands. The agency estimates that as of March, nearly 73,000 wild horses and burros roam the federal land. That is almost three times what is sustainable for the land and animals, according to experts.
The budget request proposes $70.7 million for the Wild Horse and Burro program, which is a decrease of around 12%. It eliminates appropriations language that restricted it from using tools provided in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. If approved, it would allow the BLM to use “humane euthanasia and [the] unrestricted sale of certain excess animals”.
Congress barred the BLM in 2010 from euthanizing healthy animals.
The program’s budget is consumed by basic feeding and care of about 50,000 wild horses after they’ve been captured. Low public demand to adopt the horses, a lack of effective reproduction control methods and high costs to care for the unadopted have restricted the BLM’s ability to manage herd growth, the agency states.
The BLM adds this budget would help reverse the declining health of the wild horse and burro herds and the public rangelands.
Many horse advocates oppose the removal of sale restrictions for captured wild horses and burros to include horse slaughter.