Diverse Coalition of Stakeholders Announce Support for Proposal on the Non-Lethal and Humane Care of Wild Horses and Burros

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Diverse Coalition of Stakeholders Announce Support for Proposal on the Non-Lethal and Humane Care of Wild Horses and Burros

Groups endorse proposal as a humane, non-lethal strategy for sustainably managing wild horses and burros

WASHINGTON–The ASPCA®(The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Humane Society Legislative Fundin concert with rangeland management stakeholders, today announced their support for a proposal on the care of wild horses and burros on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public rangelands. The proposal offers a humane, non-lethal path forward to sustainably manage wild horses and burros in the American West.

Wild horses and burros are federally protected under the landmark 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and such pivotal legal protections remain a critical component of a sustainable wild horse program. But without an effective management strategy, the number of wild horses and burros on public rangelands has continued to grow and threats to these populations have emerged both on the range and also in legislative arenas.

The strategy consists of four integral components:

–Robust rangeland fertility control program: Comprehensive large-scale application of proven, safe and humane population growth control strategies to help stabilize wild horse and burro populations on the range and achieve a better balance in herd numbers where necessary.

–Strategic gathering: Targeted gathers of horses and burros in densely populated Herd Management Areas that cannot sustain large numbers of animals to protect them from forage and water shortages and facilitate non-lethal fertility control efforts.

–Rehoming horses: Relocate horses and burros lingering in holding facilities, and those taken off the range, to large, cost-effective, humane pasture facilities that provide a free-roaming environment for wild horses and burros.

–Increased adoptions: Promote the adoption of wild horses and burros into good homes to improve the lives of horses and burros in holding pastures, reduce the total cost of the program, and redirect funds to long-term strategies for the care and sustainability of horse and burro populations. Provide handling and training that will dramatically improve the adoptability of rehomed horses and burros.

The four tiers of the proposal–gathers, strategic and robust fertility control on range, public-private partnerships for off-range holding, and enhanced adoptions–are each crucial to the ultimate success of the program. Failure to effectively implement any part of this proposal jeopardizes the success of the program. However, if employed correctly, this proposal will result in a more sustainable wild horse and burro program over the next decade, and thereafter will eliminate the need for large-scale removals of wild horses.Most importantly, a fundamental aspect of the proposal is that it will prohibit the killing of healthy wild horses and burros or their sale to slaughter.

“For more than a decade, the future of our wild mustangs has been under serious threat, but we are now on the verge of converting what has been considered by many to be a lost cause into a success story.” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “The ASPCA’s goal has been to find a humane way forward for our nation’s iconic wild horses and burros, and to ensure these herds will roam our West well into the future,”

“For more than 20 years Return to Freedom has focused and modeled minimally intrusive management methods that could be implemented on the range as an alternative to roundups,” said Neda DeMayo, President of Return to Freedom. “We realize that to move forward with any long term sustainable solutions that would truly protect wild horses and burros on their ranges – we need to work together with other stakeholders who have diverse interests.While horses continue to be removed from the range, this proposal ensures non-lethal management methods and the robust use of fertility control to minimize or eliminate roundups in the future.”

““We are proud that as a result of the many years of work by varied stakeholders across the country, we are finally moving to non-lethal solutions and away from slaughter” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

“The political conflicts surrounding the wild horse and burro program have been increasing dramatically in recent years, and federal and state legislators have been looking for a non-lethal solution that will humanely lower wild horse and burro populations. This proposal is the result of compromises on all sides.” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We are committed to presenting Congress and the BLM with a pathway towards healthy horses, and rangelands to sustain these American icons. We urge the Administration to adopt the proposal, and urge Congress to fund its implementation.”

With this plan, wild horses and burros will be managed humanely, the government’s costs will decrease over time, and federal public lands will be managed effectively. Experts from all corners– rangeland management, wild horse advocacy, equine welfare and wildlife conservation– have put aside differences to unite under one effective, humane, plan to move the Wild Horse and Burro Program forward on a sustainable and non-lethal trajectory.

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Media Contacts:

RTF: Neda DeMayo, RTF President: Mobile: 805-588-5105, Office: 805-735-3246, neda@returntofreedom.org; Cory Golden, RTF Advocacy & Communications Coordinator, 805-737-9246, outreach@returntofreedom.org; Celeste Carlisle, RTF Biologist: Mobile: ‭(805) 722-7133, science@returntofreedom.org

ASPCA: Rebecca Goldrick, 646-291-4582, Rebecca.Goldrick@aspca.org

HSUS/HSLF: Emily Ehrhorn, 301-258-1423, eehrhorn@humanesociety.org

About Return to Freedom, Wild Horse Conservation

Founded in 1997, Return to Freedom (RTF) is a national 501 C3 nonprofit organization dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education, advocacy and conservation. RTF also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary, home to nearly 500 wild horses and burros, created as a model to explore minimally intrusive management methods that could be implemented on the range as an alternative to roundups. Visit returntofreedom.org and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.