Mustangs in the USA: Disputable measures

Since the Bureau of Land Management met in autumn 2016 the US government gets heavily criticized: 45.000 wild horses are supposed to be put down. Learn more


Since the meeting of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Elko, Nevada/USA in mid-September 2016, there – once again – has been much criticism against the government. The reason: the planned mass euthanasia of around 45,000 wild horses. The BLM is overwhelmed with the high population of wild horses. There are currently an estimated 45,000 horses in reception centres. Over the last few years the horses have been removed from the landscape and accommodated in these centres to create more space for livestock. In the shelters, the horses are waiting to be adopted. Now the government is facing a problem. There are more and more horses and the supply as well as care of the overcrowded accommodations requires high costs. Last year, the BLM invested about 49 million US dollars for the horses which is about half of the total programme budget.


The BLM has now proposed to put the captured wild horses to sleep. This was found to be a suitable solution by several votes at the meeting. The project is severely criticized by animal rights activists. The solution proposed is to strengthen population control through prevention measures. Furthermore, last year there were headlines that the BLM had sold about 2,000 protected wild horses to slaughterhouses. The Human Society thinks that the exclusive problem is the state’s aiming at profit. The accommodation was therefore only overcrowded because the horses were taken from nature primarily because of the increasing cattle breeding.

In 1971, under The Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the wild horse population was placed under protection. Since then the population of wild horses has increased by 150%. Currently, there are twice as many wild horses living in the country as recommended by the BLM. Accordingly, the BLM is now looking for new legislative initiatives for necessary measures that would support a reduction of this high number.

You would like to help protect horses in need? Then take a look at our info page about volunteering with horses, learn about typical tasks as a volunteer and receive an overview about the horse projects we offer. Further details on animal welfare volunteering in the United States can also be found on our info page about volunteering in the USA.

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