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Do Wild Horses Need Endangered Species Protection?

Do Wild Horses Need Endangered Species Protection?

Equine advocates are taking a new approach to get wild horses much-needed protection by petitioning the Department of the Interior to have horses who roam on federal public lands listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The petition was filed by Friends of Animals (FoA) and the Cloud Foundation over concerns that if the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) doesn’t change the course its on soon, the agency will mismanage these American icons into extinction.

In 1971, Congress recognized the value of wild horses as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” who “contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.” It enacted the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which was intended to protect wild horses from “capture, branding, harassment, or death.”

Sadly, the BLM has failed, and continues to fail, to uphold its duties and continues to remove and warehouse thousands upon thousands of wild horses. According to FoA, more than 200,000 horses have been driven off of public land since the Act was passed, while thousands more still face the threat of removal.

Wild horses have already disappeared from Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and things are getting ugly in other states, including Utah and Nevada. Now there are believed to be fewer than 33,000 horses live on 26 million acres of BLM lands, while almost twice as many are in BLM holding facilities as the government continues to pointlessly spend millions of dollars every year on more gathers and holding costs.

Yet the agency still wants to reduce their numbers by another 30 percent and will continue to subject them to terrifying, incredibly inhumane and indiscriminate roundups where the young, old and pregnant are forced to run for their lives as they’re chased by helicopters.

FoA and the Cloud Foundation cite these excessive roundups and removals as a major threats to their populations, thanks mainly to private livestock grazing, in addition to habitat loss (they’ve already lost 22 million acres) and inadequate regulation.

Now concerns continue to be raised about how these threats will continue to hurt them and whether the small herds that are left in the wild will be able to survive, while further fears have been raised that the government will open the door to legally allow horses in holding to be sold for slaughter.

“The tragedy of horse roundups exists because the BLM appears devoted to turning arid western public lands into feedlots for cows and sheep to appease cattle producers,” said Priscilla Feral, president of FoA. “Friends of Animals finds this morally and ecologically reprehensible, as wild horses are driven off lands to leave the bulk of water, forage and space for two domestic animals owned by ranchers.”

Even though they’re legally protected, the BLM treats wild horses like an invasive species who have no right to the land, but scientific research based on fossil records and DNA evidence has proven that they did originate here. The belief that they’re a native species was also upheld last month by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals during a lawsuit that argued the BLM was breaking the law by rounding up too many horses.

“Misclassification of wild horses as a non-native species is politically, not scientifically driven,” said Ginger Kathrens, executive director of The Cloud Foundation. “Wild horses are severely endangered but without recognition of current scientific evidence of their native status, they could become extinct.”

While these organizations fight for more legal protection, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign is urging people to speak out for wild horses by opposing helicopter roundups in Utah and Nevada by midnight June 18. Comments can be emailed to: blm_ut_biblesprings@blm.gov and blm_nv_whb_motorizedvehicleco@blm.gov.

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4:05AM PDT on Sep 7, 2014

YES - these horses SHOULD BE labeled as ENDANGERED, and protected at all costs!
I suspect the cattle men are paying off the BLM to allow so many of their cows to graze, and get rid of the horses!

3:33PM PDT on Sep 3, 2014

This is a broad problem.
The land is cleared of wild mustang horses, in part, to lease the land for petrol (oil & gas) companies to FRACK our wild American west, natural home to bison and Spanish bloodline horses interbred with the naturally selected healthiest survivors escaped from ranches, etc, AS IT SHOULD BE; horses have evolved over 1000s of years to live on sparse rugged terrain. They should be afforded sanctuary with multiple small SOLAR and WIND power generating facilities compatable with horse presence and grazing.

3:28PM PDT on Sep 3, 2014

Please sign my petition: Stop rounding up and slaughtering wild mustang horses!

3:50PM PDT on Jul 1, 2014

All the damage that ranchers have done and continue to do to public lands I feel is illegal due to the protection act for the horses. The BLM is and has always been in the pockets of the ranchers. Sally Jewel, huh. She made all the right promises to protect the environment and wildlife and the first thing she does when put in office is turn her back on everyone who supported her and the wildlife she was supposed to protect. She even refused to attend the VERY important and confrontational wolf hearings. She is a disappointment of the worst kind. BLMis-management, ranchers and USFWdis-Service are all one tight-knit happy family working against the wildlife and lands they are supposed to be protecting. These horses ARE protected. BLM must be held accountable for their actions against the horses.

5:25PM PDT on Jun 23, 2014

signed....and the ranchers are the ones pushing for cutting down wild horses and burro's.

Ranchers are the ones that not only over graze the public lands, they are the ones killing the wolf and other wild animals for the herds to eat and drink. In some places there are 30 herd animals to 1 wild horse/burro.

They do not know how to share. And we pay for it all, with the tax's.

9:57AM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

If putting these creatures on the endangered list is what it takes to stop the cruelty and terrible mismanagement by the BLM, then DO IT ! And it seems like the BLM has been up to no good on a lot of fronts for as long as I've been voting.It is time to investagate them for criminal activity since they seem to be just too happy to give over our public land to ranchers, loggers and minners. Stop them now and restructure that whole dept. to actually protect our public lands since that was what it was ment to do, and if it wasn't designed for that, then let's redesign it for that purpose.

6:04AM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

Sally Jewel, the latest Secretary of the Interior, whom it was said should have some sway over the BLM situation, has done nothing in regard to wild horses and the BLM. Who do we have to VOTE into office to get a pro-horse advocate is what I would really like to know. Seems to me there are too many CATTLE on federal public lands. I think for every horse they round up, they should round up two cows at the same time. Then let's see how many horses those cattlemen want gone. Nothing against cattle, but cattlemen should be feeding them on THEIR OWN DIME.

5:48AM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

YES. I strongly agree that wild horses should be added to the endangered species list. According to American Wild Horse Preservation, 270,000 wild horses have been removed from public lands since 1971. 22.2 million acres of wild horse and burro habitat have been lost since 1971. 70 percent of wild horse herds have been been reduced below genetic viability levels. Cattle outnumber wild horses 50 to 1 on public lands. 5 out of 8 wild horses are stockpiled in government facilities. These numbers tell the truth: our wild horse populations are at dire risk of being completely exterminated. To learn more, go to http://wildhorsepreservation.org/.

5:41AM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

(cont from below) Heck, they should just start working for those ranchers directly, but then oh yeah, they wouldn't have the authority for all those helicopter roundups then.

5:38AM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

The horses aren't bothering anyone except THE RANCHERS who want these tax-payer funded lands fresh for their CATTLE. The BLM essentially works for these ranchers. There is no other reason to exterminate these beautiful and intelligent creatures except for the fact that someone else wants the land they are using. Wild horse over-population you say? Perhaps, but why would the BLM waste our tax-dollars rounding up and sending these poor creatures to holding pens then slaughter houses if not for the fact that someone else wants the land they are using? Yes, it's the ranchers and the BLM working together as the long time pals that they are. Wait a minute you say - this is public land - shouldn't the public have a say in how and who uses it? Shouldn't the BLM be representing the public since it is their tax-money they are using for their programs of horse annihilation? Would seem that a public office like the BLM SHOULD BE representing the interests of the public (whom the land belongs to, if not God), yet we only find them working for the financial interests of ranchers who believe this land was meant for their cattle! A conflict of interest for the BLM? Apparently not such a conflict when ranchers are padding wallets as tax-payer dollars are used to remove horses from tax-payer land for the sake of cattle grazing on those same public lands. The BLM does NOT listen to the public. There's only one small group they listen to. Heck, they should just start working for the

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