Photo: Wild mustangs graze on federal land in Wyoming. Credit: SteppinStars via Wikimedia Commons Animal welfare activists are angry about federal advisory board's recommendation last week that the Bureau of Land Management euthanize or sell for slaughter thousands of wild horses and burros who've been rounded up because of concerns about overgrazing on federal lands.
As the Arizona Republic reported yesterday, the National Wild Horse Burro Advisory Board, an independent group of veterinarians, animal researchers and others, recommended that those wild horses and burros who've been rounded up by federal authorities for range management and judged to be unadoptable should be "destroyed in the most humane manner possible" or else sold. The board reportedly made its recommendation after touring land in Nevada that had been trampled and stripped of vegetation by overgrazing.
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Although some media outlets have reported incorrectly that the federal government already has decided to kill the animals, the board lacks any authority over the animals' fate. A BLM spokesperson said there are no plans to kill any of the wild horses that are in federal care.
"The BLM is committed to having healthy horses on healthy rangelands," the bureau said in an official statement sent by email. "We will continue to care for and seek good homes for animals that have been removed from the range. Currently, there are more than 67,000 wild horses and burros on public rangelands, and the BLM is caring for nearly 50,000 animals in off-range corrals and pastures."
Nevertheless, the board's advice, which has not yet been released in full to the public, has aroused a storm of criticism from groups such as the Humane Society of the United States. In a blog post, HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle denounced the recommendation as "unhinged," and "a prescription for mass slaughter on an almost unimaginable scale."
"Our nation's wild horses deserve better than this sort of mismanagement and abuse, and an attitude that they are throwaway objects," Pacelle wrote.