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December 11, 2012

Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse Roundups Lack Oversight for Animal Welfare

The Humane Society of the United States calls upon the Bureau of Land Management to implement its long overdue Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program

The Humane Society of the United States is calling on the Bureau of Land Management to implement its long-awaited Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program to ensure the well-being of wild horses and burros at roundups and in government facilities. This request comes after several incidents this gather season where wild horses and burros were treated inhumanely and severely injured.

“The Bureau of Land Management needs to demonstrate a commitment to reform by making the implementation of its Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program to protect America’s wild horses and burros a top priority,” said Holly Hazard, senior vice president of Programs and Innovations for The HSUS. “Many of the horrific problems the public has witnessed over the last two years could have been prevented if the agency had kept its pledge and acted sooner.” 

2012 Gather Season Facts:

  • Earlier this year, an HSUS executive witnessed a BLM contractor appear to hogtie and leave a lost foal in the path of stampeding mustangs at the Desatoya Wild Horse Gather near Austin, Nev.
  • In October 2012, The HSUS learned that BLM officials sold more than 1,700 wild horses to a longtime horse slaughter advocate who is allegedly running a horse slaughter scheme and BLM has yet to act upon this information.
  • At the recent Owyhee Complex Wild Horse Gather in Nev., a stallion was caught in a barb wire fence after he became separated from his band while a BLM contractor helicopter pilot attempted to herd the group through a 16-foot wide gate. Fortunately, the stallion was not injured, but the incident may have been prevented entirely if BLM contractors provided a larger entry for the wild horses.

The Bureau of Land Management introduced the idea of the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program in its proposed strategy for the Future Management of America’s Wild Horses and Burros in February 2011. Since that time BLM has gathered more than 15,000 horses and burros and there have been many instances of inhumane treatment both during gather operations and in government holding facilities. The welfare program was scheduled to be implemented in July 2012, however, the agency has still not finalized it.

In July 2011, The Humane Society of the United States issued a detailed report recommending improvements to BLM’s standard operating procedures at wild horse gathers.

As a result of recent incidents, The HSUS is calling on BLM to implement the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program immediately, to ensure America’s wild horses and burros are treated humanely at roundups and in government holding facilities. The HSUS also calls on the agency to review previous HSUS requests to develop and implement a Humane Observer program that would allow a knowledgeable, objective witness to intervene at gathers to prevent inhumane treatment from occurring during gather operations. 

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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