Feeding Wild Horses Can Lead to Their Slaughter

Feeding Wild Horses Can Lead to Their Slaughter

Many people love watching wild horses in their natural habitats and some even move to areas close to wild horse areas to enjoy their presence. However, we must be careful not to literally  “love them to death.” 

Photographers, videographers, documentarians, and ordinary citizens visit wild horse and burro Herd Management Areas (HMAs) and Herd Areas (HAs) to observe and cherish them, and to learn about their natural behaviors. Most are respectful and keep to the recommended distance of 100 feet between themselves and the wild herds. Considerate photographers use extremely powerful zoom lenses to get the beautiful close up pictures you see. This is absolutely necessary to allow wild horses to retain their natural behaviors and wariness of humans.

Unfortunately, some people try to get too close, or even lure them with food into their neighborhoods for easy viewing; some even try to feed them carrots! This is due to either innocent misunderstanding, or stubborn selfishness, but in either case the results can be devastating for wild horses.

Feeding wild equines will cause them to lose their distrust of humans, and embolden them to go places they shouldn’t — which ultimately leads to horrible outcomes.

We must communicate with those people who do not realize the harm they are doing when they approach wild horses. For those people who purposely use hay or water to lure the wild horses to their properties, we can only plead, PLEASE STOP!  

One case showing the bad outcome of this behavior occurred near Gardnerville, Nevada, where the famous Fish Springs wild horses roam on HA public land. Advocates there continually put up signs and knock on doors in the close neighborhoods. They plead with people not to put out feed and water for wild horses, and include advocate contacts to call if horses approach the neighborhood.

We attended a community meeting in Gardnerville, with advocates, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff, and neighbors. The message was to please not lure the horses close to the neighborhoods. One belligerent man adamantly refused, saying that he enjoyed watching the horses come to his yard.  Well, now he can no longer “enjoy” that, because one disgruntled neighbor complained to the BLM, requiring that agency to capture and permanently remove 21 Fish Springs horses, from their home on the range where they were free to live with their families.

Once captured, we all lose the chance to see these amazing animals in their homes, and they lose everything they hold dear. Not only are they stripped of their freedom, they become incredibly vulnerable to being sold for slaughter. That is an outcome they should never face, least of all when it can be avoided by us simply respecting them and keeping our distance. 

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