Wild Horses in the American West at Risk of Being Imported by Foreign Slaughterhouses
For more than 50 years, legislation has prohibited the sale of wild horses detained in the West. This may soon change if Trump’s proposal for budget cuts is passed. The new mandates could result in thousands of wild horses being sent to overseas butchers, where they would be sold as food.
Advocates in favor of wild horse protection have been battling with livestock farmers for years. According to the Denver Post, the Trump Administration is leaning toward rancher groups that don’t want to compete with thousands of wild horses for scarce fodder across an estimated 40,000 square miles of ranchland in at least 10 states. These lands are currently overseen by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The estimated number of wild mustangs in the range is believed to be 60,000 and there are an additional 45,000 captured horses being held in American holding pens or commissioned private prairies.
The three preceding presidents to Donald Trump also grappled with the inflating costs of maintaining wild horses across these vast landscapes. During the Obama Administration, BLM’s budget doubled from $36.2 million in 2008 to a whopping $80.4 million by the end of his second term.
The director of BLM stated that wild horses in the West generated many budgeting challenges. If current practices continued, the organization would be well over $1 billion over budget. The price tag for caring and housing 10,000 horses over their lifespan would be $50 million, per the director. Despite these exorbitant costs, however, he reiterated he wasn’t in favor of reversing existing laws.
Some of the backers of placing the wild horses up for sale include The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Nevada Farm Bureau. Many believe this move would enable ranchers to clear out overloaded holding pens ran by the government as well as seize more animals for profit.
The National Cattlemen’s public lands council said the original purpose of the law was to maintain a fit presence of horses, but at this time, some of the horses are living in dire conditions without proper nutrition. The BLM declared that less than 27,000 horses can be sustained under the current budget. The Trump administration ultimately believes the current way of doing things is untenable.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals responded to Trump’s proposal in shock and stated the proposal would push wild horses to extinction.
“America can’t be great if these national symbols of freedom are destroyed,” stated Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign.
The budget plan put forth by Donald Trump hopes that $10 million in operational cost savings would be materialized from declining overheads to feed and house the animals. With fertility management and shepherding, added savings would be in store.
Per the 1971 Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act, the auctioning of senior and adoptable horses is allowed. However, Congress has for several years included stipulations in budgets banning the sale of wild horses for slaughter.
While the U.S. forbids horse slaughterhouses, in other parts of the world, horse meat is thought to be a delicacy, including in Canada, Mexico, and some regions of Europe. The story is still unfolding at this time, per the Denver Post.