Drought In The US A Danger For Wild Horses

This is a news feed from the National Post, where the BLM in the United States is in process of rounding up and removing 18,000 wild horses from several states. The reason given is that drought has so deteriorated their range and the lack of water is causing a large number of horses to die and suffer.

Efforts are on going by several wild horse advocacy groups to help bring water and feed to the horses but the round up is continuing. In the US they have banned the slaughter of horses and so the outcome for these horses is to live out their lives in large holding facilities. It is estimated that there are already 40,000 horses living in these conditions right now.

From the National Post:

U.S. land managers are expecting to catch double the number of wild horses than originally planned, due to the withering droughts in the West.  The additional haul is set to include 6,000 animals from Nevada, Oregon and Colorado. In total, close to 18,000 wild horses will be rounded up from ten western states, spanning from Montana to California.

The Bureau of Land Management said the capture began in Oregon on Sunday and in Nevada on Monday, concentrating on places where “chronic overpopulation” of the herds “already has stretched the available food and water to its limits,” Associated Press reported.

“As one of the agencies charged with the responsibility to protect and manage America’s wild horses and burros, the BLM is prepared to take emergency action where we can in order to save the lives of these cherished animals,” Nada Wolff Culver, the agency’s deputy director for policy and programs, said in an announcement on Monday

BLM will “continu(e) our efforts to reduce overpopulation across the West and achieve healthy, sustainable herd sizes that are more capable of withstanding severe conditions, including prolonged drought, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change,” she said of the effort in the announcement.

However, advocates say the decision fails to rein in the number of livestock competing for the same land and resources and continues to prioritize big-money interests.

“Profit-driven interests ravage the landscape, and we blame the horse,” Laura Leigh, president of nonprofit group Wild Horse Education, told AP. “Absolutely nothing has changed under the Biden administration except we are being spoon-fed a dose of greenwash that they ‘care’ about the environment and wild things,” she said.

Ranchers are already rotating cattle and reducing grazing voluntarily in order to maintain ecological balance, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association insisted.

Stretched the available food and water to its limits

“These removals are critical for the horses as well as the health of the rangelands,” Kaitlynn Glover, executive director of resources with the group, said in an email to AP. “Even in times where resources are plentiful, these overpopulated herds cause serious damage to the landscape.”

The drought this year has been “more pervasive and dramatic than we have seen in years,” she added.

BLM announced last week additional steps to ensure the horses being put up for public adoption don’t end up in slaughterhouses. The announcement was met with mixed reactions among horse advocates, said AP, who say it didn’t go far enough, explaining as long as the government keeps offering $1,000 incentives, the horses would continue to be slaughtered.

From 2013 through 2017, fewer than 4,100 mustangs were gathered. The total rounded up this year would more than double last year’s numbers. The peak this decade came in 2018, with 9,749 gathered.

Only 1,400 of all the wild horses rounded up will be roaming free once again after they receive contraceptives.

Advocates have further criticized BLM for not prioritizing the use of birth control in the past two decades since it has become available.

“This situation further illustrates that the status quo does not work,” Nevada House Rep. Dina Titus said. “That is why I led an effort to provide funding in this year’s Interior appropriations bill for safe and humane birth control.”

Here in the Alberta foothills we have not seen the severe drought conditions other areas of the province and the country are going through. Neither is our wild horse population at a level even to close being a problem. WHOAS is part of the Alberta Government’s, Feral Horse Advisory Committee as is another major horse advocacy group and both of us are working hard to ensure nothing like this ever happens up here. If necessary population control can be done without the large round-ups and removal of horses. Contraception can and does work. WHOAS and the other group will be providing the FHAC with ideas on the use of contraception as a long term management strategy here in Alberta. Although some people object to the use of contraception vaccines it is because they do not understand how they work, but look at the alternative. Here in Alberta, horse slaughter is a booming industry and we are working our best to prevent any of our beautiful wild horses from such a fate.

Our WHOAS handling facility continues to take in wild horses that need to be rescued, work to gentle them down so they can be adopted to loving and forever homes. With the support of other groups and our wonderful public we will continue to do this, assuring the legacy of the wild Alberta horse will always live on.

One of our latest adopted horses travelled all the way to Ontario, where he is enjoying a new life. The new owners will be using him in the equine therapy program that they run. He will make a great ambassador.

Loading for his long trip to Ontario and his new home and this was done by a professional horse transportation company.

Ready for his long journey to a great new life in his own little stall.

A record number of visitors have come through the WHOAS site to visit the horses and learn about the Alberta’s wild horses and the work that we do to protect and save them. WHOAS is committed to do anything we have to in order to assure the welfare of our beautiful wild horses. We continue to receive requests and you can arrange a time for a visit by sending us an email at whoasalberta@gmail.com.

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