Animal Rights Groups Sue BLM

The Fund for Animals and Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Sept. 20 to block the removal of 21,000 feral horses from federal lands in the western United States. The groups say that the BLM hasn't prepared a study of its strategy to remove half of all wild horses and burros from public lands.

The BLM has managed feral horse populations on federal land since 1971, and rounds up several thousand animals each year for public adoption. Approximately 48,000 feral horses and burros lived on federal land as of last fall. Last year, 5,080 horses and 1,112 burros were adopted. BLM says the herds now are being thinned with more intensity because overpopulation is damaging vegetation, water supply, and jeopardizing other wildlife.

These animal rights advocates believe that the BLM is endangering the long-term genetic viability of the herds by setting low population targets. They also believe that "BLM and the ranching industry will not be satisfied until these animals are managed to extinction," according to one statement. Groups also have expressed concern over horses sold to slaughter after adoption, a trend that background checks and farm visits from BLM officials should prevent.

According to the BLM, during the herd reductions the agency has "plans to improve its marketing of animals and events, implement techniques to enhance the adoption prospects of older animals, and provide long-term care and holding (pasturing) for the oldest, least adoptable animals."

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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