Wild horse advocates tried to challenge a federal relocation proposal by flying a banner over Denver this afternoon that called Interior Secretary Ken Salazar "the slaughter czar."
New Mexico-based Wild Horse Observers Association co-founder Patience O'Dowd said her group opposes Salazar's proposal to re-locate thousands of the wild horses that roam the West.
They paid $2,000 to fly the banner over the federal center in Lakewood, where the Interior Department has offices, and over central Denver until sunset.
Salazar was not in Colorado today.
The proposal calls for keeping some 25,000 non-reproducing horses at seven preserves in the Midwest and East.
It would be more humane and feasible to manage growing wild herds by shooting birth-control darts at the horses from helicopters, O'Dowd said.
The growth of wild horse herds over 40 years has challenged federal land managers to find a way to balance wild horse, cattle industry and energy interests without slaughter while also minimizing costs to taxpayers. Federal officials over the past year spent $29 million caring for some 32,000 wild horses and burros rounded up into fenced holding areas around the West.
"We have to find a humane way to manage the horses on the range so that they avoid starvation and so that ecosystems are protected from overgrazing," Salazar spokesman Matt Lee-Ashley said. "Nobody is proposing slaughter."
Opponents to the management plan, he said, "have let their imaginations run wild."
Bruce Finley: 303-954-1700 or bfinley@denverpost.com