(Riverton, Wyo.) – Wild Horse advocates gathered outside of the student center building at Central Wyoming College to protest the Bureau of Land Management’s treatment of and plans for Wild Horses across the West. Simone Netherlands, representing Respect 4 Horses, said she attends every BLM Advisory Board meeting on Wild Horses held twice a year around the region.
“There is no overpopulation of wild horses, we’ve gone from over two million wild horses to just 30,000 in the wild,” she said. “but they complain that they’re overrun with wild horses.”
In prepared remarks delivered at noon, Netherlands said, “we now have over 50,000 wild horses and burros stuffed in holding facilities. Broken wild horses, without their families, some in feedlot like conditions, with no protection from the elements.” She also said the current horses in the wild have less than 26 million-acres in which they are allowed to live while cattle are allowed on 160-million acres.
Netherlands said the BLM is advancing policies that are directly opposed to their mission. “Their mandate is to protect wild horses, not do pest control for cattle ranchers. I’t’s not fair to wild horses, and it’s because they don’t make anybody any money,” she said. She said wild horses “are only allocated 18 percent of the forage in wild horse management areas while cattle get the rest.”
Marjorie Farabee, with the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, said the BLM is also collecting the older horses, “breaking up families and losing the knowledge of the herd, like where to find water and shade in the desert. Older horses are the Encyclopedia Britannica of the herds and they keep the stallions from breeding when conditions are not good. They’re upsetting the balance.”
“Every wild horse we have today is a survivor of two centuries of persecution by ranchers and our government,” Netherlands said. “It’s a very sad and scary state of affairs, that just like the rainforest of the Amazon, our own government is exploiting and using up our public lands for the benefit of profit driven businesses. It’s time someone steps up and fixes this very very broken program. It is unsustainable, unscientific, inhumane and a despicable waste of our taxpayer dollars.”
In a related move, Governor Matt Mead Monday urged the BLM “to take immediate action” and “remove excess horses from its herd management areas” in Wyoming. See that story by clicking here.