By Bell Long
For decades, the fight between animal activists and government officials have been gaining coverage in the media. In the past few years multiple things have come to the public’s attention; one being what to do with the growing wild horse population in the Western United States. There are two main sides to this argument.
Horse lovers and animals activists in general feel strongly that the wild horse population should be left alone and take whatever route nature has planned. On the other side, there are rumors of government officials planning to relocate, domesticate, or kill the wild horses.
Rumors of the Government’s plan to kill 4.500 horses ran wildly throughout media such as Facebook, so much so that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wrote a ‘true and false’ article.
The BLM reported that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) have been brainstorming ways to regulate the wild horse population. NAS suggested that leaving the wild horses to increase as they have been would lead to “self- limitation”. The population would skyrocket, ultimately putting all of the horses at risk of dehydration, disease, and/or starvation.
The BLM, in fact, denied ever having held, or planned to hold/sell off wild horses.
States that have the highest population of wild horses and burros are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.
In the chart above, each state has a number of horses and burros, as well as the total number and the Appropriate Management Land Max (AML).*
The next chart shows the number of horses and burros that were taken from their natural habitats between the years of 2012 to 2015.
|Removals in Fiscal Year 2015||3,093||726||3,819|
|Removals in FY 2014||1,689||168||1,857|
|Removals in FY 2013||4,064||112||4,176|
|Removals in FY 2012||7,242||1,013||8,255|
Another suggestion for what to do with wild horses and burros is to have them adopted. While this is an option, the number of adoptions per year versus the rapidly growing population is not a reasonable solution.
|Animals Adopted in Fiscal Year 2015||2,331||300||2,631|
|Animals Adopted in FY 2014||1,789||346||2,135|
|Animals Adopted in FY 2013||2,033||278||2,311|
|Animals Adopted in FY 2012||2,232||351||2,583|
Selling animals into private care has proven to work either very well or disastrously. Sometimes these animals are rehabilitated and given a loving, supportive homes. Other times animals are starved, beaten or otherwise abused. Now compare the table above to the table below, which shows the amount of horses and burros sold into private care.
|Animals Sold in Fiscal Year 2015||87||180||267|
|Animals Sold in FY 2014||23||64||87|
|Animals Sold in FY 2013||22||43||65|
|Animals Sold in FY 2012||320||82||402|
So far, according to the table above and the data gathered by multiple reliable new sources, such as the New York Times, organizations and individuals have been working to find a solution for the wild horses and burros. The difficulty in this is finding a way to deal with the large amount of horses and burros in a way that keeps both animal activists and government officials happy.
If readers would like to view the Bureau of Land Management article of facts and myths click here. http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/prog/whbprogram/history_and_facts/myths_and_facts.html
* The AML is the amount of livestock that a specific amount of land can provide for without detrimental damages occurring.