WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of 54 lawmakers pleaded with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to halt a series of wild horse roundups on the Nevada range.
A letter sent Monday by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, cites wild horse deaths in recent roundups in explaining the request.
The letter brands the roundups “a deeply flawed policy” and points to reports that 21 of 636 horses died in a herd collection effort near Tuscarora in northeast Nevada.
The Interior Department’s position is that the roundups are needed to protect wild horse herds and the rangelands that support them. The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawmakers’ letter.
The letter recommends that the National Academy of Sciences be assigned to review the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to cull about 12,000 of 38,000 wild horses and burros from herds roaming 10 Western states.
Lawmakers said the bureau was making similar mistakes to a roundup during the winter that resulted in the death of more than 105 horses.
“Given this pattern, and the continued threat of death and suffering to these animals, we request that the Tuscarora Complex roundup be suspended, along with any pending gathers, until the agency demonstrates that it has addressed the failings of the current program and can ensure the safety and well-being of the animals you are charged with protecting,” the lawmakers wrote.