In Defense of Animals Protects Wild Horses and Burros
Wild horses and burros face a looming threat to their survival, and with them, all Americans face a despicable threat to a treasured living link to our past. Wild equines are being threatened with having their Federal protections stripped so they can be gunned down on the range or sent to slaughter until their populations reach near-extinction levels. Our nation’s heritage animals have been scapegoated to deflect attention from public land damage caused by ranchers and extractive industries and decades of government mismanagement.
In Defense of Animals is mobilizing supporters to stop the wild horse execution order. We are speaking out to counter the misinformation promulgated by those who profit from exploiting our public lands. We are demanding that federal agencies carry out their duty to protect and preserve wild horses and burros. Together with a coalition of animal welfare groups, conservationists, and equine advocates, we propose on-range management that is humane and science-based. Please join our fight for solutions, not slaughter.
What's The Problem With Wild Horses?
Every year, thousands of wild horses are ripped from their native land in terrifying roundups, corralled in holding pens for life, adopted out, or sold to questionable buyers. Many of these horses are in turn sold to slaughterhouses. This is all sanctioned by the U.S. Government under a law passed more than 40 years ago to protect “these living symbols of historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” Yet, instead, the government seems more interested in protecting the interests of cattle and sheep ranchers.
In order to control “federally protected” populations of wild free-roaming horses and burros, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) — the government agency responsible for administering and enforcing the law — practices cruel and egregious methods of removing wild horses from public land.
Wild Horse Roundups
Roundups of mustangs and burros are physically tortuous and indiscriminate as the young, old, and pregnant are forced into a violent stampede over rocky and dangerous terrain. Low-flying helicopters are used to scare and roundup the terrified horses, many of whom have never seen a human being before. Young animals collapse in exhaustion or are rendered helpless from injury as they run in fear for their lives. Spontaneous abortions frequently occur among the pregnant mares, and tight family groups are shattered in the chaos marking the end to their freedom. All will suffer further stress from their fated confinement, while others will also face worse—many of these federally protected wild horses are illegally shipped to the killing floor of horse slaughterhouses in Mexico or Canada.
What We Do To Protect Wild Horses
In Defense of Animals has a long history of deep involvement in horse protection. Here is just some of the work IDA has done for wild horses over the years:
- 2005 - Through a lawsuit, IDA prevents the U.S. Forest Service from rounding up and auctioning off 350 wild horses.
- 2006 - IDA files a lawsuit that results in the prohibition of the capture and removal of free-roaming horses within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.
- 2007 - IDA cancels the roundup of hundreds of wild horses by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.
- 2008 - IDA and wild horse activist Julianne French join forces to save 36 wild stallions at the 500,000-acre Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and Nevada.
- 2010 - IDA discovers the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rounded up 36 wild stallions likely to be sent to slaughter and plans on rounding up another 1,400 horses from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and Nevada, and quickly threatens a lawsuit against the agency for violating its own regulations. As a result the roundup is called off and the 36 stallions are returned to the refuge.
- 2016 - IDA launches an alert supporting the Save America's Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act which would stop the shipping of U.S. horses overseas to slaughter, and prevent horse slaughterhouses reopening in the U.S.
- 2021 - IDA and its supporters make a renewed push to pass the SAFE Act
What You Can Do To Protect Wild Horses
Every year, In Defense of Animals empowers tens of thousands of wild horse advocates to contact legislators and decision makers urging them to save mustangs and burros. Join them!