ARM has been actively investigating the U.S Department of the Interior since our organization’s inception. The governmental agency is tasked with protecting our country’s natural resources and heritage. Currently, the Department of the Interior is removing America’s wild horses and burros off our public lands.
The wild horses and burros of the USA are a ‘National Treasure’ and are considered by many as being the backbone of this country. Unfortunately, they are also on the verge of becoming a myth. Presently, there are only an estimated 25,000 wild horses left roaming free and their presence in the wild is on an alarming and rapid decline.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a division of the Department of the Interior, oversees the roundups and care of the animals. Most of the land is located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. Helicopters chase down the horses, up to 20 miles, over jagged volcanic rock and drive them into overcrowded makeshift pens. No consideration is given towards foals or injured horses that struggle to keep up in the panic driven stampede.
Once rounded up, the wild horses are held in government run holding facilities. To date, an estimated 47,000 horses and burros are corralled into pens with little or no shade. This number is almost doubled that of the wild horses left roaming free in America!
Whilst some of the wild horses end up being adopted out through BLM programs, many end up spending the rest of their lives confined in these facilities and are often used for the research of contraceptive and various new drugs for horses. Many of the wild horses are dealt the hand of abuse and cruelty and end up in rodeos as bucking broncos. Even more devastating, and often following time served in a rodeo, (as with ARM’s rescued mustang EPIC) the horses become destined to winding up on illegal slaughter farms and slaughterhouses where they are brutally butchered for their meat to fuel the black market trade for human consumption. Obviously this is not exactly an acceptable form of ‘protection’ for one of America’s greatest heritage.
Beside the desolate conditions, cruelty and diminished fate of these horses, the Wild horse roundups have now become an economic burden and are costing tax payers up to $80 million dollars per year. This is a cost to the USA that is unnecessary and when left to roam free, the horses are causing no financial responsibility.
One of the main contributing factors leading to the roundup demand is attributed to an ongoing battle with local ranchers who believe that they are more entitled to utilize the limited grazing and water sources, found on ‘public land’, for the profitable cattle industry. The war between the wild horses free roaming rights is becoming overshadowed by the ranchers greedy needs. Investigators have often witnessed lush grass parcels of land and water sources being fenced off from the horses. Inside the fences, plump cattle graze and drink from fresh lakes whilst on the other side of the fence, wild horses are starving, dying of thirst and perishing under the extreme desert conditions.
The wild horses are ‘supposed to be’ protected under the Wild free roaming horse and Burro Act of 1971, however the Department of the Interior and the US Forest Service have a tainted perception of their rights to roam free and often see them as ‘feral’ nuisances. ARM’s investigations and documentation are crucial in protecting and ensuring these iconic wild horses survival.