Photo by Gen Heywood

Wild horses are facing life-and-death votes in Congress, so it’s critical for their supporters to find ways to urge lawmakers and the public to stand with America’s herds before it’s too late.

Writing a letter to the editor of your local or regional paper is an easy way to spread the word about wild horses and the challenges that they face. In addition to reaching the newspaper’s readers, such letters are reviewed by the staff of federal lawmakers. In areas that are home to wild horses or burros, such letters may also persuade editors to devote more space to the wild horse issue.

Below, you’ll find background information, key points that you can make in your letter to the editor, and writing tips.

Background

Click here to read about where we stand on six Congressional bills of interest (Agriculture and Interior appropriations, as well as the SAFE Act, in both houses). For more facts about the Bureau of Land Management management and the plight of wild horses, please click here (pdf).

Key points

  • Urge lawmakers to:
    • oppose any provision that would allow the Bureau of Land Management to kill healthy unadopted wild horses and burros;
    • oppose weakening or eliminating sale restrictions on wild horses and burros, which would allow kill buyers to purchase animals and haul them to slaughter in Canada or Mexico;
    • support the SAFE Act, which would ban horse slaughter and the transport of horses for slaughter in the United States.
  • Effective, humane on the range management tools for wild horses and burros do exist and are proven to work. In addition to fertility control, Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation advocates for a series of steps as part of its Wild on the Range Campaign. Read more about our campaign for humane, on-the-range management and sign our petition here.
  • The American people are overwhelmingly opposed to horse slaughter – and equally supportive of protecting wild horses. Polls consistently show that about 80% of Americans from rural to urban communities strongly oppose horse slaughter. The American people will not tolerate the shooting of healthy wild horses and burros that represent such a strong part country’s history and culture. Read more about horse slaughter and sign our petition here.
  • Since 1971, wild horses and burros have lost 15.5 million acres of habitat under the management of the Bureau of Land Management.
  • In 2016, BLM spent only about 4% of its $80.6 million wild horse program budget on fertility control — compared to 67% for the capture, removal and off-range stockpiling of wild horse. In fact, BLM has never spent more than 4% of its wild horse budget on fertility control.
  • Fertility control is not a cure-all, but the National Academy of Sciences has recommended its use as a key tool for population management and a peer-reviewed study found that BLM could reach its population goals within 12 years if it focused on the fertility control vaccine PZP. At Return to Freedom’s American Wild Horse Sanctuary, we’ve found that PZP to have a 91% efficacy rate. It allows us to keep family bands together, and our mares are healthy, happy and living well into their 30s.
  • Wild horses and burros are vastly outnumbered by privately owned livestock on BLM lands by about 37 to 1. Wild horses are restricted to just 9.1 percent of BLM lands, which they must share with livestock. Yet even on the small amount of BLM land designated as wild horse habitat, the BLM allocates the majority of forage to private livestock, not wild horses.

Letter-writing tips

Here are some tips for writing an effective letter and increasing the chances it will be run by your local or regional paper:

  • Follow the newspaper’s guidelines. Information about how to submit a letter can usually be found on the newspaper’s opinion pages or on the opinion section of its website. If you can’t find directions, call the newspaper for help.
  • Be sure to include your contact information your name, address and phone number. Editors will often want to confirm that you live in the publication’s coverage area and that you are the one that wrote the letter, but they typically only print names and cities to accompany letters.
  • Keep your letter short, focused and respectful. Use plain language. Abide by the newspaper’s word limit, which is often 150-200 words.
  • Start the letter with a clear statement of the point that you wish to make, then build on that. Keep in mind that if letters are edited for brevity, editors typically cut from the bottom-up.
  • Mention relevant agencies or lawmakers by name.
  • If your letter is printed by the newspaper, you can ensure that the message reaches lawmakers by sending them a copy. You can also increase its reach by sharing the link, if it’s published online, with your family, friends and other social media followers.
  • If your letter is printed, please send RTF a copy as well by contacting outreach@returntofreedom.org.
  • Click here for a list of newspapers by state.

Recent RTF press releases and news stories

Senators introduce bipartisan SAFE Act to end horse slaughter, Aug. 2, 2017

Senate committee rejects horse slaughter, sets up key vote on wild horses, July 20, 2017

RTF statement on House vote to allow BLM to kill wild horses, July 19, 2017

Gov. Bill Richardson: Congress Should Reject Slaughter, Threats to Wild Horses, July 13, 2017

House committee narrowly votes for horse slaughter, July 12, 2017

 

Donate to RTF’s Wild Horse Defense Fund