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.
The roundups 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.
In Defense of Animals has a long history of deep involvement in horse protection. We have opposed roundups, prevented experiments on pregnant wild mares and successfully worked to shut down the final three US-based slaughterhouses in Illinois and Texas.