Horse lovers muster to defend iconic American wild horses

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Animal Wellness Action (AWA) called on equine protection advocates and horse lovers across the nation to join in defending America’s American wild horses and their natural habitats from a proposal that would enable the mass roundup and removal of tens of thousands of horses in the coming years.

“This plan will break the budget of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and dramatically expand inhumane roundups of wild horses every year,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “If implemented, the plan will swell the captive population of wild horses and create pressure to resolve the enormous costs of maintaining them in government holding facilities by relaxing the ban on slaughtering them for human consumption.”

wild horses

Terrified horses attempt to escape during a roundup. Photo provided by Animal Wellness Action

The horse family Equidae and the genus Equus are part of America’s history, evolving here before the species moved to the Eastern hemisphere.

Animal Wellness Action and other wild horse and burro advocates are encouraging Congress to direct BLM to increase fertility control programs as a way to check population growth on our federal lands and to reduce round-ups and removals to minimal levels until the agency demonstrates its ability to execute on birth control programs on dozens of Herd Management Areas across the West.

“It’s time to double down on contraception not roundups, and Congress must send that message to the staff at the BLM,” said Holly Gann, director of federal affairs at Animal Wellness Action.

On April 22, 2019 a group of organizations that includes the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the “American Mustang Foundation” submitted a proposal to Congress that called for the expenditure of $50 million taxpayer dollars in a single year to remove wild horses from the range. The U.S. House of Representatives later passed through the Department of Interior Appropriations package, a provision that provided a $6 million down payment on the plan that must now be considered by the U.S. Senate.

“The ‘Path Forward,’ as it’s been named, is a thinly disguised two-step, with the second step being the slaughter of our wild horses and burros. If the plan is implemented, it will swell the population of captive horses by rounding up wild horses – perhaps over 100,000 over a ten-year period at an accumulated cost upwards of a billion dollars. NCBA and other big agriculture interests will then argue – as some lawmakers already have – that there is a fiscal and population crisis and push for the slaughter of these animals for human consumption,” says an AWA press release.

“This plan fits neatly into the ’roundup culture’ at BLM and it will subvert federal protection standards for wild horses and burros,” the press release continues. “The plan also does not proscribe surgical sterilization of female horses on the range – a cruel procedure conducted on the horse while she is still conscious. The plan was championed by Utah U.S Rep. Chris Stewart.”

BLM is encouraging supporters of American wild horses to contact their U.S. Senators and ask them to “oppose any measure to remove wild horses from federal lands.”


Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization with a mission of helping animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty of any type, including dog-fighting and cock-fighting.