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LETTER: Wild horses

Two months ago, the Bureau of Land Management, which controls much of Nevada’s extensive federal lands requested $1 billion from Congress to permanently remove wild horses. BLM’s historical choices contradict 1971’s Wild Horse and Burro Act.

Casey Hammond’s July 18th commentary (“Home on the range”) used euphemisms such as “gathering” rather than describe the brutal roundup by helicopter and imprisonment of these horses in unsavory, overcrowded conditions. Horses frightened by helicopters often break their legs — a death sentence. Mothers are separated from their offspring. Imprisonment leads to heightened risk of disease.

Whenever care is inconvenient or deemed too expensive by BLM administrators, horses are auctioned off and usually put to death in a jurisdiction where horse slaughter is permitted. Few individuals are able to adopt these animals and provide for their care.

Using BLM’s population guesstimates 81,000 horses over 11 states versus 4,000,000 BLM-permitted cattle and sheep, the BLM claims horse overcrowding at the same time that it willingly charges ranchers bargain-basement rent to overgraze public lands with cattle and sheep. That places scarce water and forage in peril for all wildlife species.

There is a better way. Porcine zona pellucida fertility control has been used for 30 years and can be delivered non-invasively via remote darting versus permanent imprisonment or surgical sterilization. The BLM has dismissed widespread PZP implementation and giving wild horses freedom in their natural habitat. Why?

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