I'm feeling guilty. I should be at the farmers market handing out pamphlets asking people to sign on-line petitions or make phone calls to try to stop the US government from eradicating wild horses and burros on public lands, animals they are legally obliged to protect. Yesterday, I couldn't help a trapped sparrow. What good am I?
So I'm asking you to help. In 1971, Congress unanimously passed (how often do they do that?!) The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act to preserve and protect American wild horses and burros. These animals are the descendants of the animals who transported people and goods to expand our country and who transported lawmen and ranchers and anyone else who wanted to go from one place to another before trains and cars and airplanes.
Today the ranchers, with the help of the government, are shoving the horses and burros off the public reserves set aside for the horses and burros. Ranchers don't share well. People are eating less beef, so the ranchers' answer is to graze more cattle. They're not very smart either. They graze many of their cattle on public lands, for which they pay the government about $20.00 per steer per year for the privilege of destroying public lands and the wild horses and burros who are supposed to be given preference.
Cattlemen say there are too many horses, although cattle outnumber horses by more than 50 to 1 on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management (a division of the Department of the Interior) responds by rounding up more horses and burros, often using helicopters, killing or injuring many of them in the roundups through stress, and stashing the horses in holding pens. They already kill many by quietly adopting out horses to people who truck them to Mexico to slaughter, although they're not supposed to do that either. Recently, over 70 horses died while being transported from one holding pen to another.
Horses are herd animals, living in strict family groups protected by a stallion. The roundups tear families apart, upsetting the functioning of any remaining herd, and stressing all the horses. Horses can die from stress. Holding pens kill horses, too. The horses are given only minimal care. Horses are not meant to stand around all day. To keep their guts working, they need to move. One day soon, they'll decide it's too expensive to keep the horses and they'll kill them.
When the law was passed in 1971, there were almost 300,000 wild horses and burros. Today, there are fewer than 30,000 free-roaming horses - and they're still being rounded up. There are now more horses in holding pens than there are on the ranges. Over 50% of the land designated for them in 1971 has been taken away from them. This is a betrayal of the government's custodial agreement and a misuse of taxpayer dollars.
If you are a taxpayer, you should know that hundreds of millions of your tax dollars are being wasted in these roundups, in paying the owners of the holding facilities, and in restoring the ranges that the cattle overgraze.
If you are a human being with any bit of compassion, I beg you to get involved. The government is ignoring the hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world who have been protesting for years. They're only listening to a handful of ranchers. Please add your voice to save the horses and burros. Or soon the horses will be gone.
American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign
Return to Freedom
The Cloud Foundation