Photo by Laura Leigh, Horseback Magazine
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – A 2008 internal BLM memo discussing a plan to euthanize as many as 50,000 wild horse in holding has again surfaced and is in the process of going viral on the Internet. When Horseback first saw discussion of the reports in email posts they had a familiar ring to them and we suspected this was not new information. Yet the purported plan is as disturbing today as it was four years ago when it was first leaked to the Associated Press causing a firestorm of anger against the government agency that controls 245 million acres, yet continues to rent huge pastures at taxpayer expense to house animals it has take from the range – where they cost the public virtually nothing other than depriving cheap grazing land for a favored few “welfare ranchers” in the American West.
In the wake of renewed interest in the leaked memo, we went to BLM’s Chief Washington Spokesman Tom Gorey with the following questions.
- What does BLM plan to do with all the wild horses that are currently being held to reduce their numbers – attrition, or slaughter?
- Was the plan that leaked ever close to being put into policy?
- Are there currently any plans for disposal of “excess” wild horses through humane euthanasia?
- What is the current BLM policy regarding selling off horses to the general public without any questions asked regarding their ultimate outcome after the purchase?
1) Wild horses in holding that go un-adopted or unsold will live out their lives in long-term holding.
2) In 2008, the previous administration told Congress and the general public that it was considering all legal options for dealing with the Wild Horse and Burro Program’s rising costs, including its authority under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to (1) humanely put down excess horses for which no adoption demand exists and (2) sell without limitation horses older than 10 and those that have been passed over for adoption at least three times. Those legal options were never exercised and have been taken off the table by the Obama Administration. In October 2008, the Government Accountability Office found the BLM to be out of compliance with those provisions of the 1971 Act. We are still out of compliance.
3) No, the option of putting down healthy horses for which no adoption or sale demand exists is off the table.
4) The BLM currently screens buyers in a manner similar to the way it does adopters. We do not “sell off” horses without asking questions. Sale questions and the bill of sale can be found at http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/recent_news_and_information.html