After countless petitions and a national uproar, the federal government has decided to abandon its plans to kill 45,000 wild horses.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Horse and Burro Advisory Board originally voted 8-1 to euthanize the horses that they claim were threatening ecosystems and wild animal populations. They say that after the horse population reaches 27,000 it starts to affect the surrounding environment.
The 45,000 horses that were planned to be killed were rounded up from lands mostly in the western United States. Normally the BLM search for people to adopt the horses, but if they are unable to find them homes the horses are euthanized or sold to companies that will slaughter them.
$49 million a year goes towards housing and caring for the wild horse population. BLM officials say they often struggle to find people to adopt the horses and therefore have to use the funds to maintain corrals and pasturelands for the animals. Much of the cost goes towards paying private contractors to house the animals in their facilities.
The Humane Society of the United States says that there are better, more humane, ways of controlling the wild horse populations, most notably through birth control administration which they are “ready to implement” at any time. The BLM claims although this is possible, it is difficult because the drug wears off after two years.
Tom Gorey, a spokesman for the bureau, said in an email that the agency will “continue its current policy of caring for unadopted or unsold wild horses and burros” and will “not sell or send any animals to slaughter.”