There’s a new group on the chopping block under President Donald Trump’s latest budget proposal: wild horses. His administration thinks they could save $10 million next year by allowing the sale of wild horses snared in the American West. But they’d toss out a requirement presently in place that requires buyers to guarantee the horses won’t be resold for slaughter. Under the Trump budget, these iconic animals could be disposed of to foreign slaughterhouses to be processed as food.
Wild horses are integral to the West’s wild history. Where would a cowboy be without his horse? But Trump’s budget bows to the wishes of livestock interests by discarding the current stipulation that buyers of wild horses won’t sell them for slaughter. Thousands of free-roaming mustangs could meet their end in a foreign slaughterhouse.
Wild horse advocates say the move would toss out nearly 50 years of protection for these animals. There are around 59,000 wild mustangs in the region, which livestock interests don’t like because they compete for over 40,000 square miles of forage managed by the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) across 10 states. Nonprofit group Wild Horse Education president Laura Leigh said of the budget, “This is simply a way to placate a very well-funded and vocal livestock lobby.”
The last three presidents also struggled with how to manage those wild horses and another 45,000 kept in pens and pastures. BLM said the current program is unsustainable, and the new budget could allow the government to manage the horses in a more cost-effective way “including the ability to conduct sales without limitation.”
BLM said rangeland in America can only sustain less than 27,000 horses and burros. Rangelands are being damaged and horses are starving, according to Ethan Lane of the lobby National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which backs the Trump proposal to allow slaughter of wild horses.
American Wild Horse Campaign executive director Suzanne Roy disagrees with the budget propsal. She said, “America can’t be great if these national symbols of freedom are destroyed.”
And the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) president Matt Bershadker said wild horses can be humanely managed with simple fertility control, “…yet the BLM would rather make these innocent animals pay for draconian budget cuts with their very lives.”
Via NBC News