Fragile Victory for Navajo Horses

Fragile Victory for Navajo Horses

Wild horses roaming on Navajo Nation (NN) lands just dodged a hail of bullets. In February the NN Fish and Game Department proclaimed a "horse hunt," offering licenses to shoot 60 horses in the Carrizo mountain area of northwest Arizona. The notice created a public outcry throughout the US. NN President Russel Begaye cancelled the hunt, saying the issue needed to be discussed fully within tribal councils. 96,000 horses still need your help.

The internal debate over the hunt revealed the power of social media, but also the vulnerable situation of Navajo herds. An estimated 35,000 horses roam the drought-stricken reservation. Many are rounded up and sold at auction, destination unknown. Fertility control is urgently needed, but not yet practiced. The 1971 Wild Horse Act does not cover indigenous nations and their sovereign territories.

The Indigenous Horse Nation Protectors Alliance, one of the groups opposing mustang shooting, plans a Prayer Vigil for the Horse Nation on March 24 in Navajo Veterans Park, Window Rock, Arizona. The gathering will focus on the importance of wild horses to native American culture and on humane management solutions.

Halting the hunt impacted not only the Navajo herds, but also the budget debate in Congress. Senate and House appropriations leaders are now haggling behind closed doors on the Omnibus spending bill. Language in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget, due for final approval March 23, will spell life or death for up to 96,000 wild horses and burros. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has asked Congress to authorize destroying "unwanted" mustangs in holding facilities and killing "excess" wild equines on the range. A tribal horse hunt would have given BLM and the horse haters another excuse to say their cruel policy is the only answer.

Senate appropriators rejected the Administration's proposed language, but the House language calls for removing all federal protections for wild equines. Your voice can help decide whether the Senate or House version will prevail.

Take Action For Horses

Call your two senators and one representative and tell them to maintain federal protections for America's wild horses and burros. You can find your 3 US legislators here:

Ask them to work with appropriations leadership to ensure:

• No federal funds to be used to kill healthy equines;
• No "sales without limitations" allowing wild horses and burros to be sent to slaughter;
• No federal funding for experimental spaying in the field or in holding.

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