Cross-posted from Seattle PI
By SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press
RENO, Nev. (AP) — The government spent less than 1 percent of its wild horse management budget on contraception programs and more than 60 percent on horse holding facilities last fiscal year despite a pledge to step up use of fertility control as an alternative to controversial roundups of overpopulated mustang herds on U.S. rangelands, agency records show.
Wild horse advocates say the fiscal year 2013 budget numbers show the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has reneged on a commitment to fertility control as the best way moving forward to keep herd numbers in check when necessary in Nevada and nine other Western states.
Instead, the leader of the largest national coalition says she fears the administration is moving to align itself with a growing number of ranching interests urging an end to the ban on slaughter of horses at overflowing holding pens where costs are skyrocketing.
“The only explanation at this point is that the BLM is creating a crisis where slaughter of America’s wild horses is the only solution,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. She said the 509 mares that received fertility treatment last year were far short of the annual goal of 2,000 the agency set three years ago.
BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said Wednesday the critics’ claims are baseless, “anti-BLM propaganda.”
In a 451-page report highly critical of the BLM last June, an independent panel of the National Academy of Sciences said the agency should invest in widespread fertility control of the mustangs instead of spending millions to house them. It concluded the BLM’s removal of nearly 100,000 horses from the Western range over the past decade is probably having the opposite effect of its intention to ease ecological damage and reduce overpopulated herds. Read full report >>