RTF statement on BLM report to Congress

Wild horses captured during the fall 2016 Bureau of Land Management roundup in Nevada’s Owyhee Complex. File photo by Steve Paige for RTF.


On April 26, 2018, the Bureau of Land Management released a report to Congress detailing potential management options for wild horses and burros, which includes the mass killing of healthy wild horses and burros, unrestricted sales including transfers or sales abroad (sale to slaughter), adoption-incentive programs, fertility control, permanent sterilization, and removal of horses from the range.

Although Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation (RTF) is encouraged that Secretary Zinke is prepared to invest considerable resources into a long-term management strategy, we have concerns with elements of this proposal. We find those options which would allow for the killing of healthy horses and selling them to slaughter domestically or abroad (either directly or indirectly), to be inhumane, untenable and unacceptable to the American people. We will be responding thoughtfully to each of the proposed options with our comments and concerns.

Last fall, in direct and swift response to the administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal to euthanize tens of thousands of healthy horses, Return to Freedom, The Humane Society of the United States, The Humane Society Legislative Fund, the ASPCA and the American Mustang Foundation presented a draft proposal for humane alternatives to the Secretary of the Interior. The coalition called for a multi-pronged, science-based strategy including the immediate aggressive use of fertility control for humane management of wild horses and burros on their ranges to reduce the population over a 10-year period.

RTF encourages the agency to adopt the humane and effective plan that we have offered the BLM, which achieves the agency’s long-term goal of a healthy, sustainable population of wild horses and burros while employing humane, non-lethal management solutions.

If the Bureau of Land Management is determined to reduce wild horse populations closer to their Appropriate Management Level (AML), we believe the most effective way forward is front loading a robust fertility control program to reduce reproduction on the range in combination with the strategic removal and relocation of horses to humane sanctuaries, so they can live out their lives without further threat of future large-scale removals, sale or slaughter. If the Department of Interior will pledge to use non-lethal management, we will use our resources to support the expansion of a responsible adoption program combined with on range management. This combination of strategies will save our wild horse populations from the looming crisis and provide a positive path forward.

We do appreciate that Secretary Zinke is pursuing the development of a long-term solution for wild horse conservation on our public lands. We think it is important to remain engaged in the conversation with those who have different points of view so that we can find common ground and develop alternatives to lethal and harmful options. To that end, RTF continues to work alongside our colleagues, biologists and economists to provide more data to the proposal draft submitted last fall.

Return to Freedom believes that Congress will again support the overwhelming sentiment of the American people by opposing lethal, dubious and inhumane management options for these iconic animals and will strongly embrace an approach that will protect our wild mustangs as well as our rangeland and other wildlife.

Click to read the full BLM report. RTF will post a more detailed analysis of the report in the days ahead.

Take Action

  • Urge your representative and senators to:
    • Oppose Fiscal Year 19 Interior Appropriations bill language allowing BLM to kill wild horses and burros;
    • Cosponsor the SAFE Act (HR 113 / S. 1706) to ban slaughter and the transportation of horses for slaughter.
  • Urge your representative to cosponsor the Horse Transportation Safety Act (HR 4040) to ban hauling horses on double-deck trailers under all circumstances.
  • Sign RTF’s Wild on the Range petition, calling for humane management solutions.
  • Donate to RTF’s Wild Horse Defense Fund, which fuels our advocacy, lobbying and selective litigation efforts.