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Good News for Wild Horses?

February 8th, 2013 by Nicole Meyer

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In Defense of Animals hopes that President Obama’s nomination of Sally Jewell as the next Interior Secretary is a move in the right direction for America’s wild horses and burros.

Jewell is a reported conservationist, outdoor enthusiast, business executive, and engineer. If confirmed, Jewell would leave her position as president and chief executive of REI to replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Salazar is stepping down in March, after establishing a miserable record as a steward of federally protected populations of wild, free-roaming horses and burros.

According to our coalition partner, the American Wild Horse Federation Campaign, under Salazar’s tenure nearly 40,000 wild horses were rounded up and removed from the range. Now there are more wild horses stockpiled in government holding facilities than remain free in the wild. The roundups cost taxpayers approximately $1,000 per horse and more than $80 million a year to maintain in these holding facilities, where they will live out the rest of their lives.

Since the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act was enacted in 1971, the government has stripped the animals of more than 2.2 million acres of their habitat and rounded up more than 270,000 wild horses—many of them fated for illegal slaughter for their meat and for profit.

If confirmed to the post, IDA hopes that Jewell will bypass special interest groups and pursue strict reforms needed to better protect these “living symbols of historic and pioneer spirit of the West.”