A helicopter drives a band of wild horses into the BLM trap near Superior in October 2021. (Angus M. Thuermer, Jr./WyoFile)

Rep. John Winter (R-Thermopolis) rode horseback into the Red Desert to see some new country last year. 

An outfitter and rancher, Winter was accompanied by a rangeland specialist and members of the Rock Springs Grazing Association. During the outing he learned a good bit about a growing natural resource concern in that corner of the state: Wild horses. 

“I’ll tell you, there are just too many horses,” Winter said. “They’re affecting sage grouse and other wildlife, and it’s ruining the range.” 

Newly passionate about the issue, the third-term state representative tried to get the attention of Wyoming’s congressional delegation “the best way” he knew how, by sponsoring legislation. 

Rep. John Winter (R-Thermopolis) at the Wyoming Legislature’s 2023 general session. (Megan Lee Johnson/WyoFile)

House Joint Resolution 3 – Wild horses and burros-best management practices calls on the federal government to amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 and other policies, so that wild horses can be gathered, slaughtered, processed and shipped to market domestically or abroad. 

“Right now we’re sending horses to these feedlots,” Winter said, “and that’s costing the taxpayer over $77 million a year — and that’s unacceptable.” 

Winter said that he knows that most Americans hold a deep stigma against consuming horse meat, though he noted that there are developed markets for equine meat in Asia and Europe. The outfitter and horseman from Thermopolis would consider bringing his old retired steeds to a slaughterhouse, though he admitted probably not his “old standby horses.”

“People need a place to take old horses,” Winter said. “They’re not serving a purpose anymore, people can’t afford to feed them, and we need to provide that opportunity.” 

The resolution, filed on Friday, has garnered support from powerful figures in the Wyoming Legislature. Rep. Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale), the House speaker, signed on as a co-sponsor, and so has Sen. Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower), the Senate president. 

Driskill, a member of the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, said that he’s “stunned” by how poorly wild horses are regulated relative to domestic livestock. 

“Here we have a species that is not an indigenous species, and it’s causing vast amounts of resource damage,” Driskill said. “Much of it is [occurring] in environmentally fragile country that doesn’t recover quickly from overgrazing.” 

Sen. President Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) at the Wyoming Legislature’s 2023 general session. (Megan Lee Johnson/WyoFile)

Most of the wild horses in Wyoming live in the southwestern high desert, dwelling on Bureau of Land Management property and the private-public checkerboard landscape. Smaller herds inhabit the Bighorn Basin where populations have been better held in check, but those in the Red Desert and Green River basin have vastly exceeded herd management area objectives, triggering large roundups

Some conservation groups argue that wild horses, icons of the West, are unfairly scapegoated and vilified by the livestock industry. Land managers and others, however, point to real ecological concerns with the nonnative species’ impacts on open western rangelands. 

The Wild Horse Preservation Society, a Laramie-based organization, did not respond to an interview request on Monday. 

Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, said that he would be supporting HJR 3. 

“It’s a good statement,” Magagna said. “It’s a way for the state to express some serious concerns with the fact that the current practices are not keeping numbers within management [goals].”

Like “so many” other resolutions, he said, this one is nothing more than “symbolic.”

“Unfortunately those [resolutions] go back to Congress, and that’s where they die,” Magagna said. “They’re a good statement of policy and how we all feel, but I’ve yet to see one that Congress sees and then they do a bill in reaction to it.” 

Mike Koshmrl reports on Wyoming's wildlife and natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures for the Jackson...

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  1. I totally support Wyomings HJR 3 bill. We need to slaughter many if not all of the surplus horses that end up in long term pastures around the USA. I’ve talked to ranchers that have provided long turn pastures for these horses that don’t get adopted (vast majority don’t get adopted) and if you see a horse on their property that is thin and and malnourished they gladly dispose of the horse and ask BLM to replace the horse. It’s much easier than raising cattle. The system is broken and needs to be fixed! Pass HJR 3!!!

  2. Wild horses are native to this country. Go to a “good” museum (ex. NE University) in midwestern states to see horses, small though they be, bones on display with prehistoric animals of all kinds. They returned to this landscape, with the help of humans, as the horses we see today.
    They do not damage the range as the ranchers say, it is the overgrazing of cattle that is doing the damage, too many cattle and their habits of grazing and drinking from streams, at the same time fouling the water. Talk to an environmentalist to receive the true information.
    As to the herds in in the Red Desert and Green River basin, the number given for the size of the herd by the government does not allow for a good mix of DNA to keep the herd’s genes to be passed from generation to generation.

  3. Why don’t all of you Cattle Ranchers rid your state of the Wild Ones; and let it be over with?? There’s been more fighting in Wyoming than anywhere else, concerning this.
    But, I also read that Wyoming isn’t having any ELECTRIC CARS and TRUCKS in their state either.
    Why don’t you secede from the Union?? You want special privileges; just leave—but let us truck your horses out of your state first. There are Sanctuaries for horses of all kinds, all over these 50 states; but you’d rather EAT THEM???

    1. Fair animals are pets before the go to market. Tough decision to raise and then sell. Where are all the horse lovers trucks loaded with wild horses. Haven’t the over population for young horses can thrive.

  4. As always its all about the grass & water in the West!
    Wild horses are not livestock,they are not “raised” to go to market as livestock!
    Wild horses have been here long before the cattle came,they were already here with native tribes.
    Hagerman Fossil fields in Idaho, have found the fossilized remains of horses ,which makes them a native species to be protected.
    The BLM does no scoping, no environmental assessments of the range, they just go round them up under the pressure from the cattlemen.
    Those comments about old horses outliving usefulness, tells me alot, I guess they will do the same with “old” people someday also!

    1. Waste of time BLM issues usually involving destruction of a species at the demand of cattlemen are inhumane at best cerainly with no honor, respect, educated logic for the continuation of a species other than cattle. How ’bout we get together to ban the BLM for being too old.

  5. It’s all about the billionaire ranchers. They don’t want to share the land that these majestic horses have inhabited long before cattle.

  6. There are 4 wild horse facilities in Wyoming where you can adopt a wild horse to train (or already trained by inmates). Together, they hold around 4000 horses. And not one of them will ship horses to other wild horse adoption facilities in the eastern states where adopters will line up to get them. It’s interesting that you won’t ship them to a place where they can get a good home but you’ll ship them to slaughter which is exactly what the 1971 Act was designed to stop. These are federally owned animals and taxpayers in the east should have reasonable access to adopt. But they do not. Wyoming representatives act like these horses belong to them and not the entire country. If you shipped them east, you’d have room in the preparation facilities in Wyoming, paid for by federal taxes not state, and you’d be able to round more up and get the herds in balance with the environment.

  7. The comment that “people need a place to take their old horses because they no longer serving a purpose anymore” is ridiculous. For most equestrians horses are an important relationship/partnership for them. Using your horse and then selling them to slaughter when they get old is disgusting. As a responsible owner you care for your horse and properly euthanize the horse when it is in pain or no longer living a comfortable life. The fact that this legislator deems his senior horses who have provided him dedicated service as useless and send them to slaughter is a sign of his character. My horse is 28 and serves an eminence purpose in my life and he will never be sent to slaughter. What a horrible person to toss aside his senior horses and deem them useless.

  8. Cows are not native to America. In fact, cows arrived here the exact same time and way horses arrived. The Spanish introduced both of them to the Americas. So, if you want to wave your environmentalist flag and start saying horses are not native to America so they should be eliminated just realize one thing, your cattle are also an invasive species and they cause more damage to our environment and our actual native species. The only difference is ranchers and politicians profit from one invasive species and not the other. The need for the profit drives you all to demonize the wild horse and call for its eradication to maximize your profit while you do your environmental virtue signalling. God help the native wildlife when they get in the way of your profits. I enjoy driving up on White Mountain and seeing the wild horses. I grew up watching them and to think of it, I have never seen a cow up there. I’ve seen elk, deer, antelope, and horses but I’ve never seen a cow. Yet you round these horses up to sell them and kill the rest to protect the cow that is not even there. The only thing that is out of control in Wyoming are politicians. I don’t have a problem with ranchers at all until they become hypocrites and call for the killing of non native horses to protect their non native cattle which in my opinion is way more destructive on the land than the horses and take away food for the native wildlife. The wild horse stands for wisdom, independence, wildness, tenacity, intellect and loyalty. If only ranchers and politicians shared all those same traits. I am not opposed to reasonable management of herds. I am opposed to the eradication of the wild horse from public lands. Let’s be honest, that is what the ranchers and politicians want and in Wyoming a rancher is most likely a politician for self serving purposes. Of course we all know all politicians are self serving. We need to find a way to make saving our wild horses profitable for the politicians and the wild horse will soon become a protected species.

  9. Old horses and any mustangs should not be disposed of by dumping in auctions or feedlots. They should be sent to rescues or humanely euthanized. If you think this is ok then why not ship the dogs and cats overcrowding the shelters to feed people? Its a sick person who thinks its ok to get every last dime out of an old horse. Instead of giving the BLM all that money, you could give the money to the reputable sanctuaries. Get the BLM and stop raising and slaughtering equines for meat.

  10. Anyone proposing slaughter of our nations horses and burros is getting very large kickbacks lining their pockets!! The legislature is full of corrupt greedy politicians! They should focus on preserving them not destroying them! The horses and burros belong to the American people!! I want my grandchildren and their future grandchildren to see them!

  11. I would like to see all of the “wild horses”
    a non native species removed and be replaced by bison a native species.

    1. The ranchers certainly wouldn’t go along with that! And we all know the corrupt partnership the ranchers and BLM have – the main reason wild horses (not sure why you put that in quotes?) are being eradicated. Bison carry bovine tuberculosis, and those precious herds of cows can’t be exposed to that! Fact: Bison that roam off of Yellowstone National Park are shot so they don’t come in contact with cattle. In 2021 900 buffalo from that very park were killed or relocated so they wouldn’t spread disease to cattle. Also, if you’re going to remove “wild horses” because you feel they aren’t native then everything that is not native to the federal lands should be removed…cows, sheep, birds, plants, bugs…🙄

      1. Amen to that you usually find cattle ranchers greedy and incredibly selfish and thats who is getting elected to the state and federal government

  12. This disgusts me! The rounding up of these beautiful and majestic horses is based on greed! All to make room for cattle. How people can round up and treat these animals with little regard and full on abuse is beyond me! How do they sleep at night knowing you are causing grief, despair, horror and pain for these horses??? I am ashamed to say I am from Wyoming. Humans are horrific at times.

  13. The last time I looked Wild Horses are very much a part of the natural landscape. They have lived for hundreds of years in most of these deserts and other areas of Wyoming as well as other states out there. They survive quite well as the other wildlife does. The move around thus not eating all their needed food. But cattle and sheep do not belong out there. They are animals that have been domesticated and raised for us. I ask of the legislatures and other people in the government of Wyoming and other western states to stop this horrendous practice of removing wild horses .

  14. What do you mean they are not an Indigenous species? They were there way before you were. The wild horses have a life expectancy of about 20 years. Nature takes care of the old ones and they either die or get diseases. They do not eat what the sage grouse eats, so how do they conflict? The horse have thousands of acres of land to use. Why do you think you know better than Mother Nature and God. Get your nose out of the way and do your job to conserve water etc….

  15. Wowsa, for my part, I’m looking forward to a follow-up article or two. I’ve never seen so many comments!

  16. The wild horse will continue to be the scapegoat in Wyoming. I find it interesting that there are only 4700 wild horses remaining on public lands in Wyoming, yet no one ever mentions the 1.27 million head of cattle that currently exist in Wyoming. Wyoming continues push for the removal of all wild horses.
    The BLM manages more than 17.5 million acres of public lands and 40.7 million acres of federal mineral estate in Wyoming. Why does the cattle industry think that they have a right to it all the and there is no room for the small number of wild horses as it compares to cattle? Wild horses are part of the public lands and the spirit of the west. There is more than enough room for them in Wyoming.

    1. The idea of slaughtering wild horses definitely elicits an emotional response in people, myself included. I love horses, but putting that aside i still think the arguments for this bill are weak, if not just plain stupid. Folks that own horses can generally afford to feed them, otherwise they wouldn’t own them. While $77 million is a large expense I’m curious how it compares to the subsidies spent on ranchers in the state. Not to mention the huge amounts of money we’ve spent, and continue spend, trying to slow the eventual demise of mineral extraction industries. The “environmental impact” argument is hard to to take seriously at all considering the political proclivities of our legislative body in general. And finally, there’s the obvious hypocrisy of a Wyoming cattle rancher whom, I assume, happily utilizes cheap BLM grazing leases griping about the overgrazing of a fragile ecosystem. While these are real concerns for the state, I doubt they’re the motivation behind this bill.
      Besides, everyone knows the best thing for the Sage Grouse would be a carbon capture crypto casino tax credit retrofit… right? That doesn’t sound much goofier than a lot of what’s come out of this legislative session.

  17. This legislation is disgusting , it is beyond repulsive ! To Slaughter the very animals that built America on their BACKS ! None of us would be here without them .when do they get their reparations! I am disgusted by BLM and government believing they have the right to play God only for their financial benefit … I hope you have a good answer on the other side when trust me you will be judged . . .

  18. Horses actually help re-seed the ground they graze when they poop. Slaughter is NOT the way to go. Relocate them to heavily forested areas and they will eat the grass and take off branches on the the trees up to 6 feet high. There is a use for them and will keep the fires from spreading as much and doing such major damage. Taking them to slaughter is inhumane. Using them to help our environment is a human and financially responsible alternate.

  19. I have spent my life’s work among the very ranch people and federal land managers that these neo-marxists claim want to rid the land of these horses and I can tell you that I have never heard one ever say that they want all of the horses gone. I doubt that anyone will change their minds or even get them to listen. They continue to rewrite history to suit their own agenda, and seek to tear down a system and replace it with something that is based on emotion, ignorance, and falsehood, a dystopia. We have the infrastructure, range data, range improvement tools, and willingness to allow for management of all species, wild and domestic out here. Their type of absurd activism only seeks to destroy, not conserve, and in the long run, will do more damage to the land and the horses themselves. Folks that want to come to the table in good faith, ready to reason, and accept facts and realities are always welcome to come out and see what really goes on. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

  20. Winter’s is so off the mark he is an absolute liar saying horses are not indigenous. Saying they are hurting the grouse population, and destroying the environment there, which is absolutely ridiculous. Horses have been there since time immemorial, and in no way affect the grouse or forage detrimentally. Quite the opposite. Horses and burros are a great boon to the area, and do not ruin anything but the greedy cattlemen and industrialists plan to wipe them out and completely take over OUR public rangelands for their sole reason to get filthy, stinking filthy rich, on the blood of our iconic equine, and the ultimate take over of OUR JOINT OWNERSHIP OF OUR PUBLIC LANDS. We must not allow this to happen!!! His words must be countered with truth, and common sense. Horses are indeed companion animals. They brought our ancestors across the country, were our sole means of transportation, since forever up until current history, are involved heavily in our sports, and entertainment, but most of all A’S OUR BELOVED FRIENDS. THEY MUST NEVER BE ADOPTED AS A FOOD SOURCE, ANY MORE THAN OUR DOGS AND CATS. THE IDEA ALONE IS HORRIFIC, AND ANYONE BUYING THAT ARGUMENT IS AS HEARTLESS AND CORRUPT AND GREEDY AS THOSE COMMITTING THE ATROCITY OF ROUNDING THEM UP FOR THEIR OWN PERSONAL GAIN. THAT IS FACT. FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    1. Judy Hawn, with ALL POLITENESS, YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT, THAT’S A FACT! I live 3 miles away from a WILD HORSE FEED LOT! Thousands of horses stand around with no purpose for their lives, suffering disease and THEY ARE NOT INDIGINOUS! BAGGS LIVESTOCK USED TO TURN STUDS LOOSE ON THE DESSERT TO PROCREATE THE HERDS ON THE RED DESERT AT THE TURN OF THE 1900’s. I have worked on the Red Desert in my past! Your claim that they don’t do damage is unfounded. Cattle DO NOT HAVE TOP TEETH IN THE FRONT OF THEIR MOUTH TO BITE OFF THE GRASS CLOSE TO THE GROUND. BUT HORSES DO HAVE TOP TEETH IN THE FRONT AND THEY CAN BITE THE GRASS OFF CLEAR DOWN TO THE DIRT! AND HORSES WILL BITE GRASS OFF TO THE DIRT GIVEN THE CHANCE (over grazing)! And look at what has happened to the sage grouse population! Come over to Wheatland and take a look at the WILD HORSE FEEDLOT just up the road from me and see those poor pathetic thousands of horses standing around with no purpose and costing the USA taxpayers 77 million dollars a year. If you come to the horse feed lot here you will see MOUNTAINS OF HAY STACKED UP TO FEED THESE HORSES! YOUR IDEA THAT YOU ARE BEEING GOOD TO THESE “BEAUTIFUL STEEDS” JUST AIN’T SO!
      It is a TOTAL WASTE!

      1. Putting the horses in feedlots is NOT a good idea. Whoever thought up that one should have a few in their back yards. Wild horses are mismanaged by the BLM. They care nothing for the horses which is why they don’t even putup shelters which caused the deaths of several foals due to heat exhaustion. Europe will not take in horse meat from the US no matter where it came from, pet food companies will also not take it. And remember ol’ Slaughterhouse Sue wanted to feed it to the elderly and school kids. They need to come up with a better plan than killing them for meat.

      2. This is laughable. Of course horses are going to overgraze when they’re confined to one area. When they are able to move around freely, they go to areas where grazing is plentiful, they don’t just stand in one area and overgraze it. Wild horses will travel miles for food and water. Have you ever noticed their hooves? They maintain their hooves by moving around and traveling long distances – they don’t have overgrowth; they wear down their hooves naturally because they aren’t standing in one area “overgrazing”! Cows may not have front teeth, but they surely will overgraze if they are left confined to a small area. That’s why rancher’s do rotational grazing, so the cows don’t overgraze! Wild horses do rotational grazing on their own. Hay: If they BLM would leave the horses alone and stop replacing them with cattle and sheep, they wouldn’t have to have those piles of hay! You do realize that 80% of crop land is used to feed livestock like cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens, don’t you? If you saw the subsidies farmers and ranchers get you would puke. And you’re worried about some hay used to feed these horses? And it’s not top-quality hay either, which is why these horses look so pathetic. Feed lots: The BLM is a complete disaster. They have mismanaged the wild horse and burro populations/roundups for years. They are totally to blame for the horrendous feedlots that they poor horses are living on. Arizona has groups of people that have been maintaining herds for years through birth control methods and it has been working well. The BLM has their own idiotic ideas and they have dug themselves into a hole they can’t get out of with their total mismanagement and corruptness. Sage Grouse population: Give me a break. To blame the declining population on wild horses is absurd!! There are many factors that hurt bird populations and you are totally grasping at straws to try to blame it on wild horses!!

      3. Edwardyou need to learn facts as well cows have no top teeth exactly so how do they eat ? By ripping it out of the ground roots and all so nothing can grow again . Horses cut it leaving the root to grow again come on peopleusecommon sense here. If the roots are gone so is the growth rate of sage and other plants therefore making it disappear. Horse cut it with there teeth therefore leaving the rootstock grow again also when they poop it also seeds making new growth cattle can not do the same thing . Facts not false . Get all your facts right before going at someone like you just did.

    2. Eohippus, the genus of equid ungulates native to the North American continent, were approximately twelve inches tall at maturity and had four toes on each front foot and three toes on its hind feet. It also had canine incisors! Fossilized scat indicates it had many predators that would keep its overall population in check. Obviously, these ancient “horses” were quite unlike the horses introduced to The New World by Spaniards; native? Not really.

  21. Its called PZP-its used in the McCoullagh Peaks and the Pryors quiet effectively. Would be effective in 15 mile. Not practical in the Red Desert where the distances are vast, and there are large numbers of horses since it requires detailed identification and tracking of the horses that have been darted to ensure they get the right number of doses at the appropriate time. AND it needs to be administered in February-you want to dart horses south of Rock Springs in February? I know i don’t

    1. Fertility controls only stabilize the population, not reduce it, unless we are talking about decades. Advocacy groups prevented that option over the years since 2007/2008. In the interest of genetics, we do not want a stagnated population on the range. In the interest of sustainable herds, moreover healthy horses on healthy rangelands across these 10 states, we need to get back down to the vitality of the original AMLs, asap. There are horses dying from starvation this winter on even the most well known HMAs as we speak. How is that humane?

  22. This proposal is outrageous and based on falsehoods and distorted information about the returned native wild horses. Horses are a deeply rooted native species in North America, their cradle of evolution, and they contribute in many positive ways to a variety of ecosystems including those prevalent in Wyoming where there are abundant fossil remains tracing back over the millions of years of their evolutionary ascent. These crusty vested interests have a warped view of the situation based on their possessions and positions which blind them to the wild, naturally living horses’ greater story and its positive significance. Horses are a different type of herbivore whose differences are actually wholesome and lend balance to an overly cloven-hoofed, ruminant-digesting herbivore dominated scene. They are one of the most deeply rooted presences in North America dating back millions of years and revive many ecosystem-enhancing mutualisms with many native plants and animals. They are natural gardeners who build healthy soils, disperse many intact seeds of a great variety of plant species for successful germination, and reduce fuel load, or dry flammable vegetation, this greatly helping to reduce and even prevent catastrophic wildfires. We must stop using them as scapegoats and wake up to their great role as restorers and healers of ecosystems.

  23. The portrayal of federal land ranchers by many commenters on this article is abhorrent. Most all of us are family ranchers that work every day to provide food and fiber for a nation that is more and more ungrateful. We have worked diligently to improve the range for all species, which by the way is blessed by federal law, passed when the nation realized that what we do is needed. The horses use our unfenced deeded lands, we pump water for them at our own expense, we work with federal land managers that live and work in our local communities. We deal with horses on our fenced deeded lands that have no forage because of tough winters that crawl in on us. We pay taxes that support our local communities and man posts on school boards and yes, some of us run for offices that attempt to help our state prosper and protect local communities. We use and love horses ourselves and treat them as our partners in what we do. I respect those that profess to be fair minded about the issue, but I guarantee, when things get to be the way many of these activists want it, no one wins, including the horses.

  24. This is just abhorrent and the lies these legislators are using to justify this ‘legislation’ are just unbelievable. Do they honestly think we believe that they care about the environment? This is driven by good old fashioned, bald-faced American greed and nothing more. Wild horses are beneficial to the environment – the CATTLE are not. But they’re not making any money off just leaving our wild horses alone, are they? These men have sold their souls.

  25. mustangs are indigenous to the Americas, the myth that they were imported from the Spanish has been debunked, read the relationship between the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the horse by Dr Yvette running horse Colin cattle are not indigenous to the Americas. They are just a source for profit and they are more destructive than any other species of wild horses were actually overpopulated. They would starve and die by themselves. They don’t need to be “managed”

    1. Yvette Collin is an ethnographer-and a VERY BAD one at that-NOT an archeologist or a biologist and is not qualified educationally or otherwise to speak to the evolutionary history of horses. The current species-Equus Callabus is NOT native to north America, they first appeared on the Steppe in Asia around 3500 years ago. The species that were Native are extinct. THAT is good science that has not been debunked.

    2. Diana: Horses in north America became extinct between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago during the great Pleistocene dieoff – this was the event which also caused the extinction of mammoths, giant sloths, whooly rhinocerases, and a host of other species. Prior to the dieoff, Wyoming had a long history of horses starting about 45 million years ago in the Eocene, Oligocene and Miocene eras. The Spanish reintroduced horses to North America from other parts of the world where the dieoff had not eradicated horses.

  26. Good God! Shades of Sue Wallis who tried to get this type of legislation passed to allow horse slaughter in the state. She was all for opening slaughterhouses in Wyoming to “deal with unwanted and wild horses.” This practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption is abhorrent to most of the public. Shipping this “meat” overseas is not the answer. Most countries will not accept American horse meat which is known to be tainted with chemicals that can cause death in pregnant women and the elderly. (Bute) If you still think this is a good idea read up on the mess caused by slaughter plants in Texas by companies that didn’t pay taxes or fines for fouling waterways, sewage plants and the horrific odors coming from such places. This is why it was closed down. Watch some footage of horses going through the plants and decide if this is the best way to treat your old horses that you don’t want anymore. Give the last act of kindness a painless death not the horrors of the slaughterhouse. They are brutal.

  27. The people of Wyoming in the American west have relied on horses for many years for many reasons. The beauty of wild horses in the open range of Wyoming is a wondrous sight and the decision to try to eradicate horses from our landscape is silly and not backed up by good science, the real loser is the person who would want to see a wild horse in its natural environment. The claim that horses are not native species would be met by those on this side of the argument with the claim that cattle sheep and goats are also not native species.
    There are many organizations that support wild horses on public lands who would be happy to comment, but you only reached out to one for your article? This is not good, reporting give those of us who support the wild horses a chance to respond.

  28. I am commenting as the co-founder of Wyoming Wild Horse Improvement Partnership (WYWHIP). This topic is so vast and polarized it is incredible.

    First- people often find wild game intolerable as a protein source. We do not consume cattle or sheep directly from the range either. The most common livestock production process is that the animals are usually bred, give birth, and/or raise their young (4-6 months) until weaning on the range, particularly the desert ranges that are often shared with wild horses or contain the checkerboard parcels. Cows without calves and bulls may or may not stay on the range for a few additional months. Upon weaning most livestock is sent to grass pastures in other states, typically wheat grass in CA, TX, OK, or similar states. Then the weanlings, now yearlings, are brought back to high mountain pastures for another summer of grazing, rarely the desert where the horses live. From there, the yearlings go to feedlots in the midwest for finishing on grain. Why would anybody think that a wild horse raised on desert pasture would be palatable to a diner in France or Japan, when they are accustomed to horse meat that is typically raised on lush grass pasture and then finished on grain? Ludicrous! This is selling snake oil in my opinion.

    Second- I hope people click on the blue lettering “real ecological concerns” in the article, which links to another article that is an accurate portrayal of how many advocacy groups contribute to the problem, grossly misleading public regarding the reality of the situation.

    Third- WYWHIP has testified or commented to the WY Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands, and Water Resources Committee over the past two years, with viable options to the wild horse crisis in Wyoming and throughout the west. Representative Winters has clearly chosen to disregard our presentation of solutions to the Committee.

    Fourth, WYWHIP is active participants of a volunteer project under the direction of the BLM Rawlins Field Office to assist in the management of wild horses in their jurisdiction. Friends of a Legacy (FOAL) is another advocacy group that has assisted the BLM in a similar project (click on the blue lettering in the article “smaller herds” to learn more) to definite success. There is no one silver bullet in management of the herds, and it is crucial to include local, educated private or non-profit support to the BLM in management of the herds. The problem is that larger advocacy groups are, as I mentioned above, grossly misleading the public regarding the reality of the situation. They collect impressive amounts of donation money, which is then used to produce propaganda to incite more outrage based on half truths to attract more donations, meanwhile undermining the BLM’s efforts to work with groups like WYWHIP and FOAL in actual solutions, preventing removals of the horses and treatment of those left on the range and thereby negating any successes that might be had. Further, we have photographers who share dramatic photos that support the fantasy image of wild freedom being ripped away from our national icons in order to sell their beautiful artwork at incredibly inflated prices. They have been observed and reported for trespassing on private lands, and causing damage by driving across grass and sage to access the herds and not sticking to established roads. They have verbally attacked and threatened BLM staff, landowners, other photographers, and other advocates. They are also responsible for much of the misinformation relayed to the public. This creates unnecessary controversy and prevents the local groups from being able to raise adequate funds that are critical to supporting their efforts.

    WYWHIP co-founders, one of whom is a Wyoming native are landowners (of Red Desert parcels) in WY, have college education and professional experience in range and equine management, livestock production, animal behavior, welfare, and additionally each have vast successful experience in non-profit management and volunteer coordination, particular to small and large animal rescue. We understand and recognize the need to manage through population growth suppression in order to keep the range healthy. The horses can’t thrive if the range is not in good health, and the one thing we will agree with Driskill on is that much of the wild horse HMAs are within fragile ecosystems that can’t handle overgrazing or overuse. We love Wyoming, it is our home, and we want to protect the Red Desert habitat, the Adobetown area, and the rest of the homes of the protected wild horse populations. We intend to provide internship and educational opportunities for local (Wyoming) Native youth who wish to pursue careers in conservation, particularly that centered on wildlife, wild horse, and range management. We are already communicating with other conservation groups in Wyoming to openly discuss strategies that will support wild horse management plus enhance other Wyoming resources such as precious wildlife, wild spaces, and outdoor recreation.

    Tourism outranks agriculture for contributing to Wyoming’s economy, coming in second place behind the energy industry. Wild horses are a vital part of Wyoming tourism.

    WYWHIP seeks to work with livestock producers too, and support them, because they were the original stewards and managers of wild horses prior to the 1971 legislation, and were involved in passing that along to a government agency for protection because they recognized the value of the horses on the range. They are now rightfully angry because effective management has been hindered by frivolous lawsuits from advocacy groups and they fall under constant attack from these same groups, when quite often they provide improvements to the land that benefits the horses.

    I am going to end with this, wild horses are the only species that are not managed on the landscape, because management strategies are so controversial and the agencies (BLM, USFS, State Parks, BIA-USFWS) that are tasked with management are stuck in the middle of a very ugly feud between agriculture, conservationists and advocates. Even if all agriculture (farming and livestock production) was removed from the range, the horses would still need to be managed. If not, they will eat themselves out of a range and our tourism would also be gone. Our wildlife would be gone, the water would be gone. We need to work together to solve this problem. WYWHIP does not support slaughter of horses and never will, we believe there are other ways and we challenge the ag industry to contribute strategies other than slaughter to help change the way domestic horses are managed. But we do support management, and we are investing ourselves as part of the solution.

    1. Horses are capable of self-stabilizing their populations once they fill their niche in an area. It’s just that we people seldom give them this opportunity. We are too busy foisting an unnatural number of cloven-hooved ruminants on the land and eliminating or nearly eliminating the natural predators!

    The wild horses which the BLM contracts for life time grazing on private ranches are mares and geldings only – no stallions. As a result, the herd size does not grow at the 20% estimated rate due to no foals. Had these mares been left on BLM managed lands in the western US the impact of wild horses on the environment would be steadily increasing each year. Out placing is expensive but it does solve the reproduction problem.

  30. It’s complicated and it continues to get more complex.
    In 1492, North America had Indigenous People, bison, Elk-etc., and grass, lotsa grass. Then came the Spanish, then more Spanish. They explored the Gulf coast area with Conquistadors on horseback. Soon, some of the horses got away or were turned loose, concurrently a new nation of immigrants was growing east of the Mississippi River while the free Spanish horses were making a home amongst the natives. At some point, the Indians figured out that conquistadors were not some strange, powerful animal just a man in funny clothes on the back of a horse. I wasn’t there so I can only guess what came next but by 1803 (when the Lewis and Clark expedition began exploring the Louisiana Purchase), the plains horse culture was already mature. Not long after that (again, I wasn’t there) westward expansion began and the bison and Indigenous people were in the way so they were nearly eliminated. From there, each population of horses has its own story, but they mostly kept moving to get out of the way until there wasn’t anyplace else to go and with a few more parts to their story, we end up with the Wild Horse And Burro act of 1971 and we leave it to the Bureau of Land Management to “manage” them on what was left of the west. Sounds easy enough but it wasn’t and here we are, today. In the meantime, a lot was going on in “the west” and nearby. Among that was that “society” decided that we were no longer going to feed Flika to Fido and we made horse slaughter illegal in the US. Talk about unintended consequences! Anyway the only legal alternatives left for the BLM were the Long Term pasture arrangements that have resulted in thousands (with more every year) as the adoption demand only absorbs an increasingly small percentage of the horses that the BLM rounds up every year or do like the Aussies do to control the populations of their brumbies “wild horses” which involves helicopters and machine guns. And so we end up with a problem. To be technical, horses were here before domestic livestock so we should shoot them and then there would be enough room left over for the horses. See how that bird flies!
    Like I said at the beginning of my comment, “its complicated” but it is easy to develop solutions for parts of “the problem” Deciding where to start and how far to go is another thing. All this comes from someone who is retired from the BLM with about thirty years of livestock grazing study and administration then about 10 years as the BLM Wild Horse program manager for the Rawlins District and I didn’t get “the problem” fixed. I just barely got to where I could come up with a fairly comprehensible definition of “the problem” let alone propose solutions with a straight face. To Jim Magagna’s comment about Congress making laws, they thought they were solving problems with the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 (not 1 single vote against it in the 1971 Senate) but it sounds like there are plenty of problems left?

    Anyway, there are a lot of things that I would have done different if I had it all to do over again but I don’t and I don’t know who does

  31. 47,000 horses on 4 million acres. 🤔 too many? 😤 do the math. Federally Protected Icons to be slaughtered for food. 🤔 food for human consumption… yeah, no, makes perfect sense 😤

    1. Here’s some info you might be missing (definitions are on the 1st and 2nd page (: ). :

      Important terms to highlight. AUM =animal unit month.
      AML = Appropriate Management Level (specifically regarding wild horse and burro forage capacities and their demand on the native grasses that grow in the desert.)
      Here’s a little fact sheet if you’d rather not read 175 pages! :

  32. The only thing more sad than the horse issue is the complete lack of understanding among people who advocate for unrestricted numbers of horses on federally managed land. They condemn ranch people without any acknowledgement of what we have to offer for not only what we produce, but our role in protecting open spaces from overdevelopment. As I said earlier, the complete removal of all livestock with the current unrestricted horse numbers will not improve any aspect of range health or enhance wildlife. It is clear that many people are so far removed from the land itself that they can only disparage those that are on the land and those who sincerely do their best to manage those lands. It is also a clear commentary on the divisions that exist among the American people and the Marxism in education and among the activists that always claim such high ground with complete ignorance of an issue but gleefully sit behind their keyboards and attack their neighbors.

    1. This comment is my “like button” .

      While beautiful… these “state resources” have no natural predators. Comparing this to cattle or sheep operations is absurd and lacks boots-on-the-ground knowledge of the ecological impacts these things have… I’ve first-hand witnessed the BLM round-ups and current herd mitigation processes including sterilization. The amount of resources (people,$, paying for wild horse private corralling/breaking, etc.) allocated to these management practices are a losing battle over the long term. For those opposing, there should be real, economically considerate alternatives given to representatives with a say.

      This is simply one alternative in attempt to improve desert range conditions. The overall improvement of range conditions for native wildlife should be at a priority to all concerned regardless on opinion towards potential management practices. To shift blame to the cattle or sheep industry is simply lazy. I’m not saying there are NOT ways to improve range conditions by regulating traditional ranching operations. We could certainly also see improved range conditions through more thorough/regular environmental assessments that have actual say on implementation in regulation from the BLM. There could be shorter leasing periods (i.e wait 15days on the front end or back end of permitee grazing lease periods to help allow more photosynthesis to occur in peak growing months in an environment where rain is sparatic) or restricting grazing in locations where sheep compete with other native (bovidae) sheep family grazers and can spread disease… or simply raise the federal land grazing cost per AUM (animal unit month) from the low rate of $1.35. State and private leases range from $10-15 AUM. A small increase may encourage ranchers to ensure they get the most bang for their buck when letting the herds out to summer leased ground because if they’re paying for more premium volume of consumable grasses they would be more incentivized to allow the growing season to benefit their herd directly rather than beat it to piss and then milk it for all its worth before returning the herd to private pasture or feed (that costs a lot more than $1.35 per month per “1000lb cow/calfpair”

      Give solutions. Don’t shoot down solutions with no alternative. It’s ineffective.

      The Red Desert is my home, it should be protected because it’s unique environment. Theres no place on earth like it. No doubt.

      1. Cody: I would hope that range management for domestic livestock and wild horses would have a target of leaving about 40% of the forage for deer, elk, and antelope – I agree that providing for the wildlife should be a high priority; and that, wildlife would be prioritized above feral horses – especially abandoned horses. Thats why I support out placing the excess wild horses on private ranches in the midwest – none of them get slaughtered and its a horses dream come true.

  33. Speaking as an environmentalist, I’d like to see all “wild” horses 100% extirpated from public land, along with all other non-native mammals – especially cattle and sheep.

  34. Stock growers, who help provide food, pay a fee to the U.S. Government to graze their cattle on federal lands. The number of “units” they’re permitted to graze are determined, and limited, by BLM and Forest Service Range Managers. The stock growers must comply with those limitations. The same Range Managers determine how many mustangs may remain on those public lands without depleting them as a resource for anything, or everything. However, mustangs double their population every four years….and there’s no “harvest.” Thus, the cost of removing mustangs from the open range, caring for those unfortunate creatures in holding facilities, and continuously experimenting in ways to limit their numbers, are borne by the grand collective of taxpayers. And, yes; I’d love to feed my dogs canned, wet wholesome meat if it was affordable. Ken-L Ration comes to mind.

  35. Rock Springs Grazing Assoc.: Sheep are for shearing and horses for eating. Make Magagna eat his sheep until they are gone and then we can address this fake appocalypse. Wild horses are for more beneficial for rangelands than sheep. Do not kill one more wild horse to benefit 10,000 range maggots. Agricultural interests and wanna-be ranchers have ruined Wyoming. BS

  36. Maybe we should start holding people accountable for domestic horses before we start killing the mustangs. I know at Lake Hattie we have a problem with people abandoning their horses at the boat ramp, causing a feral horse problem.

  37. Such interesting comments, and I invite Wyofile to do a follow up article. Research and report the load in WY for cattle, sheep, riding horses, wild horses, etc. by both # and AUM. Report the subsidy farmers and ranchers enjoy. Report how these activities and associated subsidies affect consumer prices for meat. Report about the profits enjoyed by corporate operations vs small family operators. Provide more context, and perspective, and then find knowledgeable experts to suggest fair and doable solutions.

  38. I am mucho ambivalent across the spectrum of ‘wild’ horse and burro issues in Wyoming and the West. I’ve concluded there are no answers , only mitigations or draconian compromises . I’ve eaten horse meat , by the way.

    One thing I will note , a distinct absence of discussing the formerly wide practice of horses being sent to slaughter to be converted to canned dog food. That used to be the norm, actually. Is that topic somehow taboo these days ?

    1. It is illegal to slaughter horses in the US and before slaughter plants became illegal in the US and shut down (2007) it was illegal to commercially serve, sell or transport the meat for human consumption (it was all exported abroad because it was full of drugs hazardous to humans). Drugs in horse meat were also found to have been fatal to certain breeds of dogs. That’s why it ceased being commercially available.

      1. I wonder how a wild horse would get lethal drugs into their system. I must assume that the concern had been domestically raised horses that went to slaughter. Therefore, I’d think that wild horse meat should be safe for pet or human consumption if the public could get past the cultural concerns.

    2. The pet food market dried up years ago. Based on pure market conditions. And kids found out what was going on and told parents not to buy the hose meat products. Don’t feed Filka to Fido

  39. Sadly, this is a direct result to animal rights advocates tying the hands of BLM with frivolous lawsuits and death threats to BLM employees. As much as I love horses and own several wild ones, they are not the magical unicorns many believe. Also don’t think wildlife and wild horse management decisions should be made by the fantasies of people in urban areas unless they are highly educated experts versed in the ecosystem in question..

    1. Is this a joke? Animal rights advocates have no say in what the BLM does or is doing. To suggest that the advocates have the BLM’s hands tied is laughable! If the advocates truly were in control, how do you explain the largest number of equids ever being rounded up in 2022? The ones in control are those with deep pockets who are as corrupt as the day is long.

      So, you say you own several wild horses? I have a formerly wild horse (I trained mine, so he is no longer wild) and he IS a magical unicorn. I know several others who have mustangs and burros, and they would also agree that they are magical unicorns. So, your opinion that they aren’t magical makes it hard to believe you even own any.

      Lastly, you don’t think wildlife and horse management decisions should be made by the “fantasies” of people in urban areas. Do you think the people making the decisions to remove mustangs, burros and mules; the ones running the disastrous AIP (Adoption Incentive Program) where they pay people $1000 per equid (up to four per year) with many ultimately ending up in the slaughter pipeline after they receive their payment; the ones making decisions to kill wolves, grizzlies, cougars, and bison so they don’t interfere with cattle and sheep – you think those are the people who should be making decisions??? The corrupt, money hungry people who are destroying our ecosystem are the ones you think are experts?! I read somewhere that in 100 years the cow will be the largest mammel on earth. If you think about how “the experts” continue to let people overhunt, overfish, pollute our waters, kill our soils, tear out our forests (mostly for agriculture and animal grazing!), spray our lands with cancer causing chemicals, kill our pollinators, destroy beneficial insects, destroy our ecosystem and so on it is no wonder. I for one would like to see a world run by “urban people” and their “fantasies” as opposed to how the “experts” are running it.

  40. I feel compelled to provide commentary on the idea of rounding up wild horses for the purpose of slaughtering them to sell in the overseas meat market would be an acceptable solution to controlling the population the iconic wild horses of the west. In this article it is mentioned (and I would like to quote the author), ‘Rep. Winter was accompanied by a rangeland specialist and members of the Rock Springs Grazing Association to ride horseback into the Red Desert and learned a good bit about a growing natural resource concern in that corner of the state: Wild Horses.’ Directly following this statement was a quote from Winters mentioning ‘there are just too many horses and that they are affecting the sage grouse and other wildlife, and ruining the range.’ I cannot help but wonder when this ride out into the Red Desert was taken as it has been one year ago that the BLM rounded up 4161 wild horses from the BLM horse management areas in western Wyoming in order to control their populations. Since this time, many wild horse advocates and those ‘locals’ who love and appreciate the natural resource of wild horses in this state advocate for more humane practices to manage the population. This means looking at changing the way things are currently being done with wild horse management in this area of the state and looking at what is working in other regions, as well as considering more viable, humane, and cost effective methods that benefit us all. It also means the propaganda that is being put out there to the public is that wild horses are ruining the range and impacting the population growth of other wildlife species is not adequately supported by non-bias data that specifically takes under consideration (and analyzes) the impact that grazing thousands of sheep has on the land. I support local ranchers and leaving them to do as they wish and see fit with their own livestock and cattle on their own land. What I do not support is the use of public land for grazing associations to benefit from and fatten their pockets at the expense of losing our wild horses. Livestock grazing is big business that involves investments from large corporations. The entire issue of grazing is a complicated one, but I feel to get to the bottom of what is going on, one just has to follow the money trail.
    I urge concerned citizens to do their own research on the business of how livestock grazing impacts the public lands and how wild horses actually lead to the ecology of the land. We, as concerned citizens need to begin to ask for non-bias studies, as well as data with regard to the impact livestock grazing really has on the land. Wild horses are being given a ‘bad name’ and are being labeled as a culprit, but really are the victims of a mismanaged system.

    Casey M. Callahan
    Concerned Taxpaying Citizen and Nature Enthusiast

    1. You realize the job of a “range management specialist” don’t you? You think they get paid by big ranch operations/asocia toons under the table to say that horses are the problem?? Lol. Employed as a BLM employee they are paid by the Federal Government (which has increased its push for improving/protecting natural resources under administration of recent decades) by conduct scientific research and data collection to ensure the proper management of the allotments within each district region. (Sure… the measly $1.35AUM from leasees as income to the US Govt. can be interpreted to be included as a % in total income used to help support the staff/resources within each district but that’s about as far as that claim goes). Don’t confuse this with the state government (who obviously has big ties to local ranchers/stock growers Assoc.s). I know the range management specialist personally in both Field Offices and have family in the range department in the Field office that shares overseeing the Red Desert Complex with more years of experience in range than I have in years under my belt. I know it’s safe to say your allegations are truly unfounded.
      If the BLM didn’t regulate livestock (sheep/cattle) as they have since the early 40s us “locals” would deal with range conditions comparable to the “dust bowl” events that swept the Midwest during the 1930s. Range conditions have only improved since then. One major hinderance of improving range conditions is the reproductive rate of these wild horses that exponentially increase demand of forage. There’s only so much grass and this isn’t the rainforest. Rain is minimal.

      P.s. if the horses eat all the grass the only thing left is dirt and the red desert will look like the ORV motorized trash can that we see in the managed BLM areas under the Rock Springs district. There’s a reason the horses and natural wildlife are lacking in many allotments down there… no food = no life

  41. Those ranchers you hate are the reason you can eat meat. I suspect ending grazing would result in probably close to a 50% or more decrease in the meat supply to say nothing of the dramatic increase in cost of your next hamburger or steak….if you could find it.

    1. Cattle raised on public lands contribute less than 2% to the nation’s beef supply. Their disappearance wouldn’t make a dent in who eats beef. But it would prevent further degradation of the public land that belongs to all US citizens — and the wildlife that depend on and sustain them.

  42. Anyone who supports sending horses to slaughter, especially wild horses, is grossly misinformed. Take a look at who is behind the proposed legislation: Hunters and cattle ranchers. Don’t be fooled by those who throw out the word “feral” because they are clinging tightly to that notion in an attempt to devalue the wild horses. Science has proven that wild horses are native to America, and simply going out and seeing with your own eyes will prove that there is no such thing as a wild horse overpopulation.

  43. “Wild” horse advocates are ironically but directly responsible for overpopulations of horses on western ranges because they have consistently thwarted efforts by good land managers to control numbers as the LAW mandates. The livestock people are continuously vilified by these groups for causing damage and yet the livestock people are the only ones that can be and are controlled. Now there is a situation where horses sadly will have to be destroyed because the problem is on such a massive scale that the good land managers we have will be forced into drastic solutions. If they removed all livestock, the horse problem remains, and in the meantime, all wildlife species suffer and conditions are degraded. Land management cannot be done by public opinion, but by solid range management, as mandated by law.

    1. Hi Troy, Wyoming Wild Horse Improvement Partnership (WYWHIP) is not like other advocacy groups. We take a different approach and are now, recently, actively participating in the management of wild horses in partnership with the Rawlins Field Office of the BLM. We understand the need for management, and we do not disagree with you in the idea that advocacy groups have been responsible for contributing to the situation, by not allowing actual management to occur through continued protest and filing of frivolous lawsuits that further the prevention of sound management techniques of removing excess horses and utilizing fertility control methods.
      http://www.wywhip.org to learn more! We would love to have more support to enable us to do more in the state of Wyoming towards solid education and outreach and active participation in solutions.

  44. One time the wild horse problem was addressed by using the animals for meat. French/Spanish other cultures it is source of viable protein in diet. It is only in America they hold a cult status. The Horses get inbred as well. Now that said. Absolutely the Ranchers should pay their fair share on grazing. The Rancher has been cheating tax payers for years. They run them long past the removal date. There fore the hunters/public should be allowed to harvest them.

  45. If Wyoming passes this law I will never visit or buy anything produced in the state of Wyoming! Remember 80% of Americans are against wild horse roundups………Plus the claim of wild horse eating up the range is BS; cattle do far more damage.

  46. we got rid of the indians.so now it’s wild horses.leave them alone.it’s state land, and i rather the horses be on there.. than some ranchers cows or sheep eating.. yes i don’t live in wyo now.but remember big ranchers taken over all public land for there use only..

  47. Finally, some sanity to the feral horse issue! These feral horses should be treated the same as any invasive feral domestic animal, such as feral hogs, feral cats, feral dogs, etc. using all available methods of getting rid of them. Also, it would sure be great if the federal agencies would do a much better job of managing and reducing the number of other domestic livestock on public lands. Our native wildlife populations are in serious trouble because of all the domestic livestock (cows, horses, sheep) ruining our public lands.

  48. I can only say. It’s about time. We need to do this. I worked with the late Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma on this issue primarily to stop the vast number of horses that are on long term pastures here in Oklahoma. Costing the taxpayers millions of dollars a year every year those horses are alive. For the vast majority they will spend the rest of their lives on that long term holding pasture. Last count I’m aware of was 46,000+ head of horses are on the long term pastures, they have been through the “adoption” process if they were fit enough and rejected or not adopted. It is an unnecessary program for the BLM to spend $77 million dollars on every year and that number is growing. Save the Red Desert !

    1. The contractors housing wild horses are making $60 a month per horse. Meanwhile, the land they’re being removed from is then leased out to ranchers for $1.35 per AUM. Rounding up and removing wild horses is extra gravy for the subsidized ranchers. Taxpayers and wild horses are being screwed.

  49. I’ve been out to those HMA, too, and the horses are not over populating the areas. We saw cattle though. It’s a bit ironic that these ol cowboys all of a sudden are concerned with the wild horse issue. The solution offered is awfully simplistic! Slaughter ain’t the answer. Get your wild horse advocates involved in the discussion, please.

    1. Lisa, I appreciate your reply! I am the co-founder of Wyoming Wild Horse Improvement Partnership. We are a WY registered non profit that is currently participating in assisting the Rawlins Field Office with management of one of the HMAs.
      Unfortunately, we have been following the discussion in the legislative committee for over a year now. The Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands, and Water Resources Committee is well aware of the work we are doing and is clearly choosing to ignore or support us. We have testified to the effect of what is possible to avoid slaughter. We have also stated our positions on sound management of wild horses in the state, including trespass horses and have offered solutions to the state of Wyoming even for trespass horses that may have been domestic at one point in their lives. There is a precedence for domestic horses being turned loose on public, state and private lands as well as tribal holdings across the nation, and in Wyoming, when owners can no longer care for them and do not want to sell them, knowing they will end up in a “slaughter” situation. While slaughter is not legal in the US, it does still exist and the argument here is that opening slaughter back up in the US, or making it legal to send wild horses to slaughter will set a precedence for opening slaughter plants specifically for horses on tribal lands (and Wyoming is pushing the Wind River Indian Reservation to do just that, including offering financial support, although I am not sure what tribal councils think of this) as a precedence for other tribes nationally to do the same. Support for this argument is that because people can’t legally send their horses to slaughter in the US, and because horses are shipped to Mexico (where the standards and procedure are very barbaric and traumatic for a horse) or Canada for that purpose people are unwilling to dispose of unwanted (old, injured, infirm, or simply unwanted) horses through sales any longer so they dump them, contributing to the feral horse problem. Larger national advocacy groups for both domestic and wild horses have been trying to get an act passed in Congress that would ban the sale of horses overseas for slaughter purposes. What really needs to happen is advocacy and the creation of support systems for horse owners who really do not have options for disposing of elderly, dying, injured, or sick horses. The cost of euthanizing and disposing of a horse is incredibly high, and many people do not have options when it comes down to it. Second, we also need to advocate for the reduction of irresponsible breeding of horses in the US. Overseas, especially throughout Europe, land is incredibly precious, and they understand that it can only support so many animals. Breeding is highly regulated and respected with regards to most animal species. Indiscriminate breeding is not a problem there like it is here, and the quality of animals is much better.

      1. Christi, you have given me a deep breath of reassurance in activate groups. You have shown here in this forum that you are involved in improving the health of not only the animals but understanding the issues of all that are involved. As has been pointed out by others, this is an extremely complex issue. You have a healthy perspective of the ranchers, tourists, animal advocates and the horses. What has inspired me to comment is that you can clearly see that we as humans are the Stewart’s of the land. You also see that conservation and management are the solution to a healthy wild horse population and the population of all animals that will eventually eliminate feral animals. I am an advocate of responsible breeding.
        What inspired me to comment is something you wrote.
        ” Second, we also need to advocate for the reduction of irresponsible breeding of horses in the US. Overseas, especially throughout Europe, land is incredibly precious, and they understand that it can only support so many animals. Breeding is highly regulated and respected with regards to most animal species. Indiscriminate breeding is not a problem there like it is here, and the quality of animals is much better.” Saudi Arabia comes to mind.
        To get involved with these kinds of breading programs would be a good start to solving the problem at hand with our wild horses. It would be a breed of horse that would be strong, healthy and something for us to be proud of. Another part of this solution would be that we become more responsible for the animals we care for.
        I was born and raised in Wyoming and am now living in the Southwest Desert, we have the same situation here with our wild animal population. Proper management is mandatory.
        I have to add here that it is crystal clear that our Government agencies are unable to implement proper management. I will use the Forests of the West and Southwest for my example. Because of the mismanagement of our forests, they are sick and burning. The Wild Horse faces the same demise. Relaying on our Government to fix our management is not the answer.
        We can collectively implement the solution.

  50. Yes, less than 50,000 wild horses on 245 million acres is too many yet millions of livestock, oil/gas installations, mines and houses are not too many???? What causes
    incredible environmental damage? Get real, leave our wild horses wild, do population control with dart guns if you must, ‘but the world need fewer people not fewer horses.

  51. Hi Mike,
    Have you googled how many cattle are in WY? 1.3 million. That’s 325 cattle for every wild horse (the BLM says there are around 4,000). Please explain the mathematical impossibility of 325 cattle not damaging rangeland, but 1 wild horse does? It’s pretty simple. If WY reps and the Cattlemen’s association want to protect rangeland, they need to remove cattle.

  52. If you are going to regulate horses, who were brought here with the cattle, then you need to regulate the cattle just the same. Saying that horses destroy the land and plants without also including how much the cattle do the same is hypocritical. When I hear of cattlemen associations wanting to regulate horses, it’s all about their pocketbooks so they can have more grazing land. It has nothing to do with the horses destroying the land other than using it as an excuse to get rid of the horses so their cattle can graze there.


    1. I think it is important to realize that this issue has blown up because the horses are going onto private land. Too many wild horse advocates do not understand the nature of the checkerboard.

      1. True, they (and others) are relics that were intended to be all private by the turn of the 20th century. But nobody would “homestead” them all so we have these public/private leftovers.