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2017 Budget Bill Language Strips Protections from Wild Horses

Horses in holding facilities targeted for sale

To The Desert Independent

May 5, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, May 4 in a surprise move, language was inserted into the 2017 Appropriations Bill, which strips wild horses and burros in holding of their protected status under the Wild Horse and Burro Act. Wild horses and burros could be transferred to Federal, State, or local government agencies. The agencies need only “the recommendation of a licensed veterinarian, in cases of severe injury, illness, or advanced age” to kill the animals.

“It’s been my experience that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a history of misinforming the public about the life expectancy of wild horses,” states Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation (TCF) and a member of the BLM National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. “BLM employees have wrongly stated that the horses live only 7-8 years in the wild which is completely inaccurate. Couple this with the vague 'illness' and ‘advanced age’ language plus one unscrupulous vet, and the potential exists for the killing of thousands of horses.”

Kathrens has been tracking and filming wild horses on Western Ranges for over 20 years. In the Pryor Mountains of Montana, wild horses regularly live in the wild into their twenties.

In 2016 The Cloud Foundation released a statement expressing their concerns. The Appropriations Committee received thousands of letters requesting additional language to ensure that federal, state and local owners would be bound by the same requirements as current adopters. Although wild horses are best managed on the range, over 50,000 captive wild horses are threatened.

“TCF has long supported the release of non-reproducing wild horses presently in holding to some of the 20 million acres of BLM land designated for wild horses that presently contain no animals,” States Lisa Friday, Communications Co-Director of TCF. “This is a practical, humane and cost-effective alternative to putting thousands of animals in holding facilities at risk. Why not insert this language into the Appropriations Bill?”

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