The government has recommended euthanizing all 45,000 unadopted wild horses in its holding facilities because the numbers are getting out of control and upkeep is too expensive. The wild horses used to live on public land, but were removed through the years to make space for cattle.
The order was made by the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board (burro is a type of horse), which is an agency with the Department of the Interior. The BLM has been running the wild horse program for decades. After being removed from their habitat, the horses are brought to holding facilities (where they can be adopted).
But now the facilities are overcrowded and hard to maintain. The BLM spent $49 million on them last year, or nearly half the budget of the entire program. Because of the high costs, the agency decided to euthanize the horses.
The decision is likely to be criticized. Some people, who argue that public lands shouldn’t be used for for-profit cattle raising, are against removing the wild horses in the first place. Organizations such as the Humane Society criticized program administrators for not controlling the population through birth control instead.
This isn’t the first time the BLM has attracted such criticism. Last October, a report confirmed that the agency had sold nearly 2,000 federally protected wild horses for slaughter.