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Wild horses and burros on public lands won’t be killed – for now

By in Press Enterprise on July 12, 2017

By Jeff Horseman

The federal government would be barred from euthanizing wild horses and burros on public lands if provisions in a draft House spending bill released this week end up in the final legislation.

The sale of wild horses to slaughterhouse buyers also would be forbidden by the bill, which outlines $31.4 billion in spending by the Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency for the upcoming fiscal year. The bill will be the subject of a hearing Wednesday, July 12, by a House appropriations subcommittee that oversees Interior Department and EPA spending.

Previous spending bills have protected wild horses and burros roaming millions of acres of federal property overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. But the Trump administration proposed lifting restrictions on the horses’ destruction, saying the wild horse population has become unmanageable and the bureau’s Wild Horse and Burro Program is unsustainable.

The proposal alarmed wild horse advocates, who see the animals and enduring symbols of the West. The American Wild Horse Campaign pressured Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, who chairs the Interior Appropriations subpanel, to save the horses.

Calvert spokesman Jason Gagnon said the congressman’s office has gotten “a fair number of calls during the past week or so on this topic from constituents as well as individuals from outside the district. We’ve also seen an uptick in emails and social media outreach.”

“Since this topic is frequently an issue during consideration of the Interior bill, this uptick in communications is not uncommon,” Gagnon said.

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona.

Roughly 73,000 wild horses and burros – 46,000 more than what’s sustainable – are on public lands today, according to the BLM. Another 46,000 are held indefinitely in off-range facilities, and care for those horses takes up two-thirds of the wild horse program’s roughly $50 million budget.

Ranchers whose livestock graze on public lands contend the […]    

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