The Troubling Status of Wild Horses and Burros in the United States

Updated on January 1, 2020
David Huffman Sr profile image

I don't profess to be an expert in equine welfare, but I have had my own horses, and the plight of America's wild horses is appalling.

The Wild Horses and Burros of the United States of America are threatened with removal and almost certain death.
The Wild Horses and Burros of the United States of America are threatened with removal and almost certain death. | Source

Two Factions Fight Over the Treatment of Wild Horses and Burros

For the over the last 50 years, a battle between two factions involving wild horses and burros has been raging. It is the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) contention that there are far too many wild horses and burros roaming the grazing lands of the western United States as well as the Midwest. It is the Cattlemen's Association's contention that the wild horses and burros are devouring the grazing lands of the cattle and that the country's food supply is being threatened.

In fact, past presidents have set aside public lands to accommodate the numbers of wild horses and burros, but that move is being ignored and thousands of these animals are to be rounded up and sold to other countries for human consumption. While this outcome has basically been outlawed in the United States, Mexico and some countries in Asia find horsemeat to be a delicacy.

However, it has been found that horsemeat is toxic to humans because of the chemical load within the meat of these animals due to the quality of food they consume and the various drugs they receive during treatment and surgical sterilization.

The BLM wild horse and burro roundups of   2019.
The BLM wild horse and burro roundups of 2019. | Source

Helicopters Are Now Used to Scare Them Into Holding Pens

The BLM uses noisy helicopters to scare the horses and burros and run them for great distances to holding pens for later removal in large, cramped trailers. Sometimes, the horses become injured and are separated from their young, which causes further stress and aggravation to the mares. In some cases, the mares try to bolt over the long fence runs to avoid capture, which causes more injuries that often go untreated. These animals are then held in these pens for long periods of time.

A BLM holding pen and its occupants.
A BLM holding pen and its occupants. | Source

Often Without Food, Water, and Medical Help

Above is one of the many holding pens used by the BLM (the picture features "Samson" and his family). Many of the wild horses that are rounded up are confined to these pens for long periods of time before being shipped out for slaughter elsewhere. It should be said here that there are many organizations that closely monitor these roundups and check on these animals when permitted to ensure they are treated somewhat humanely.

Although representatives from these organizations are permitted to observe the horses, they may not be permitted to interfere in any way with the handling of these animals. For example, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) has done quite a bit to help these animals get the care they need and sometimes find new homes for them. They also have worked with various politicians and Congress to get these roundups canceled or stopped altogether, but they can't do it alone.

These organizations often ask for help from the public for donations to carry on the work and ask that people contact their representatives in Congress, voice their opinions, and support the various spending bills to protect these animals. AWHC also has field representatives that monitor these roundups closely. Another duly recognized organization is Return to Freedom (RTF) wild horse conservation; there are many others, too.

Wild horses waiting to be shipped out.
Wild horses waiting to be shipped out. | Source

BLM's Ghastly and Appalling Plan for 2020

The Bureau of Land Management works closely with the Cattlemen's Association, and at times, it seems that the Cattlemen's Association is calling all the shots. The BLM has boasted that in 2020 they will remove at least 100,000 wild horses and burros from the western United States. This means certain death to these animals and it seems unstoppable. Unless every citizen of the United States joins the fight, I fear this will surely be the case. People can contact the AWHC and RTF for more information on how to help.

The number of animals at the time of the Caliente roundups.
The number of animals at the time of the Caliente roundups. | Source

Lawsuit Challenges BLM Over Caliente Herd Roundup

The above diagram represents the number of animals in Nevada at the time of the BLM's planned Caliente Herd Area Complex roundups. This is a summation that is found all over the western U.S., although the numbers may vary by region. A suit was filed earlier this year in federal court against the BLM.

Wiping out wild horses and burros carries repercussions.
Wiping out wild horses and burros carries repercussions. | Source

My Personal Perspective

I have had many dealings with various types of horses. I have also owned my own horses. Given the proper care and attention, these majestic creatures can become quite invaluable to some farmers in everyday farm work. Here's why:

  • they become attached to their owners and form an unbelievable bond that is unsurpassed,
  • they get to know the people around them and what is expected of them,
  • they are smart and seem to have a second sense about them, and
  • they can be taught to do almost anything.

One can look at the above photos and see that these animals are scared and have no clue what has happened to them or why. They are not to blame, they are just plain in the way. They need our help now.

The Importance of Wild Horses and Burros

The world we live in today is facing many different problems—homelessness, food shortages, global warming, our sitting president under impeachment . . . the list goes on. We have those who possess pulse bombs and aren't afraid to use them if the need arises. If that were to happen, then everything electronic would fail to operate, for example, automobiles, cell phones, computers, not to mention our military defenses. There would be no transportation for anyone, no communication, and no mail delivery.

However, there is one way to get from point A to point B. The answer is horses and burros. But what if the government gets its way and there are no horses or burros to depend on? Are we to try to get across the country walking? Think about it! Our country, like others, used horses and burros for many years. These great icons got us through many things. It is my opinion if they are gone and the unthinkable happens, we're done.

Wild Mustangs Up for Adoption

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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