July 14, 2017 – Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation and former New Mexico governor and United States ambassador Bill Richardson on Thursday urged Congress not to turn back the clock to an age of killing wild horses and of horse slaughter.

“It’s wrong to slaughter horses,” Richardson said. “It’s not something that the American people want. Their tax dollars shouldn’t be spent on an inhumane practice that they so strongly oppose.”

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee voted 27-25 to reject an amendment to the 2018 agriculture appropriations bill that would bar the U.S. Department of Agriculture from hiring horsemeat inspectors. Since 2005, animal welfare advocates have made an annual push for the amendment in the absence of a permanent federal ban on horse slaughter.

The vote came despite what polls have shown is overwhelming public opposition to horse slaughter. The last slaughter plant in the country closed in 2007.

Immediate attention now turns to the plight of the nation’s wild horses and burros. On Tuesday, the Appropriations Committee is due to vote on the interior appropriations bill, which includes funding for the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Provisions in the Trump administration’s budget would allow the BLM to kill captured wild horses or sell them without restriction – a change that would enable kill buyers to purchase wild horses on the cheap and haul them to Canada or Mexico for slaughter.

As it stands, that language is not currently part of the House interior funding bill, but Neda DeMayo, president of national nonprofit Return to Freedom, warned that wild horse supporters must not be complacent. They should  continue to call Congress and encourage lawmakers to double down on proven humane solutions — not spend tax dollars on the mass killing of healthy animals.

“Now is the time for our representatives to ask tough questions and demand a humane, sustainable on-the-range management plan for wild horses — rather than be left to explain their votes later, after healthy horses are shipped to slaughter or shot at taxpayer expense,” DeMayo said. “Killing wild horses or selling them out the back door would be a betrayal that many Americans would never forgive.”

A 2013 National Academy of Sciences report identified fertility control as an effective tool for managing the wild horse population while blaming BLM’s system of capture and removal for promoting population growth. An economic model published that same year in the peer-reviewed Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine found that the BLM could attain its management goals within 12 years by using fertility control.

In 2007, BLM was very close to achieving their desired population target and still did not implement an effective fertility control program that has proven 91-98% successful in various other programs. In 2016, for example, BLM spent just $340,000 on fertility control compared to $52.49 million on capturing and warehousing horses off the range.

Return to Freedom and other advocates have long called for redirecting money spent on capturing and holding wild horses toward available solutions. These include not only using safe, proven fertility control but revisiting population targets, based on a fair interpretation of multiple-use land management; providing incentives for ranchers who reduce livestock grazing in wild horse Herd Management Areas; increasing range stewardship, including much-needed water source restoration; and relocating horses, if truly necessary.


  • Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be connected to your representative;
  • Tell staff that your wish to urge your congressperson to oppose any provision that would allow the Bureau of Land Management to kill wild horses or to remove sale restrictions that would open the door for BLM to sell horses and burros to someone who would sell them for slaughter;
  • Please be sure to mention that humane solutions that would enable the management of wild horses and burros on the range have long been available;
  • Please voice your continued opposition to all horse slaughter.

Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the freedom, diversity, and habitat of America’s wild horses and burros through sanctuary, education, advocacy and conservation, while enriching the human spirit through direct experience with the natural world. www.returntofreedom.org

2 replies on “Gov. Bill Richardson: Congress Should Reject Slaughter, Threats to Wild Horses”

  1. Please spend some time out in the desert and see for yourself just how much damage wild horses and burros do. Pronghorns, a truly unique American species not found anywhere else in the world, are hurt by the activities of “wild” horses. Meanwhile, we’re paying to board, feed, and care for over 40,000 “wild” horses in huge stock pens. How is that not cruel to these animals (look at the stockyards on Interstate 5 by Santa Nella sometime, lol) and how is this not cruel and burdensome to the American tax payer? The majority of American favor protecting them because they have been fed this “wild horses are unique” B.S. for their entire life, ranging from movies like Black Beauty to Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron! Nuts. They’re a burden, they’re tearing up the rangelands, and it is not right to make us taxpayers support them. Do not force your cultural memes upon me. Most of the world thinks it is ok to eat horse meat. Or is this, literally, like the “sacred cow?”

  2. The Overpopulation-Fraud: The “overpopulation” of wild horses exists only on BLM’s falsified spreadsheets, where we find biologically-impossible herd-growth numbers, especially for herds whose habitat is coveted by cattlemen.

    Normal Herd-Growth Rate = 5%: Gregg et al. (2014) found that, despite an average birth rate of 20%, half of wild foals perish before their first birthday. So, the net-increase from new foals is 10%. Moreover, at least 5% of wild horses other-than-foals also die every year. The surviving-foal rate (10%) minus the adult-mortality rate (5%) equals a normal herd-growth rate of 5%.

    Fraudulent figures: BLM reports increases that are orders-of-magnitude higher than normal. Here are examples of obviously-falsified one-year growth-figures alleged by BLM for herds in California:

    42% — 8 times the norm — Red Rocks Lake
    40% — 8 times the norm — Twin Peaks

    But it gets worse:

    91% — 18 times the norm — Bitner
    97% — 19 times the norm — Fort Sage
    76% — 15 times the norm — Fox Hog
    69% — 14 times the norm — Wall Canyon

    And still worse:

    184% — 37 times the norm — Devil’s Garden
    417% — 83 times the norm — Nut Mountain

    And worst of all:

    1,257% — 251 times the norm — Carter
    1,218% — 244 times the norm — Centennial

    Fraud Is a Crime: BLM’s data with regard to mustangs is deceitful. Making false and misleading representations = fraud, which violates Title 18 USC 1001 of the Federal criminal code. Birth control for wild horses is contraindicated because birth control does not fix fraud. Neither does slaughter.

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