A senior Interior Department official, Aurelia Skipwith, deputy assistant secretary of Interior for fish, wildlife and parks, on Wednesday called for euthanasia and lifting sales restrictions for wild horses and burros, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Skipwith was speaking at an invitation-only meeting with speakers including Interior Secretary Zinke, Rep. Chris Stewart and others to which wild horse- and animal-welfare organizations were not invited.
Statement by Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation:
Deputy Assistant Secretary Skipwith in no way speaks for the 80% of Americans who in polls have consistently opposed horse slaughter and the similar percentage who want to see wild horses and burros protected. In 2007, the Bureau of Land Management stood within 1,071 wild horses and burros of its own population goal, yet failed to implement aggressively the use of safe, proven fertility control vaccine. Now, with the lives of tens of thousands of healthy, innocent wild horses and burros on the line, Skipwith and others are calling for the papering over of decades of federal mismanagement.
To be clear: Lifting sales restrictions will allow the Bureau of Land Management to allow kill buyers to ship thousands more wild horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. Calls for euthanasia will allow the BLM to use taxpayer dollars to kill healthy unadopted wild horses and burros, likely by shooting them.
The American people will never accept such inhumane proposals – not after investing millions of dollars into the protection of these living symbols of freedom.
Members of Congress should hear their constituents, loud and clear. Congress should not only reject these inhumane proposals but also dismiss the propaganda pushed by those who seek to profit from our shared public lands at the expense of wildlife, habitat and American taxpayers.
Those who wish to see wild horses gone from the West blame wild horses for damage to the range without mentioning the private livestock that outnumber them by some 37 to 1; they say fertility control has failed when BLM has never invested more than 4% of its annual budget in this safe, proven tool; they say that wild horses are starving across the West contrary to hundreds of thousands of photos of wild horses taken of them, season after season, including those being pursued by helicopters during BLM roundups.
Congress must not let BLM off the hook by turning a blind eye to a mass killing of wild horses by BLM or by letting the agency watch as wild horses are shipped out the back door in order to cover over the its mistakes. It’s time for leaders in Congress to stand up and demand that BLM use readily available humane management tools and policies. They should immediately prioritize a proud wild horse and burro program that over time would save would save taxpayers money, elevate ecotourism, and preserve the sight of America’s wild horses running free for generations to come.