Allyson Groff or Blake Androff, 202-226-9019
House Panel Acts to Ensure America’s Wild Horses Continue to Roam Free
Washington, D.C. – Rejecting the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM)
slaughter of otherwise healthy horses as a viable management tool, the
House Natural Resources Committee today approved legislation introduced by
Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) that will ensure the continued protection of
thousands of America’s free-roaming wild horses and burros that make their
homes on America’s public lands.
“While Americans cheer on the thoroughbreds at Churchill Downs this
Saturday, I would submit that the plight of the American mustang is not
something of which we can be proud,” said Rahall. “While the BLM, the
agency charged with their safekeeping, has publicly spoken of killing these
majestic creatures as a solution to a burgeoning budgetary problem, I know
that we can, and must, do better. This legislation would ensure a safe
future for thousands of healthy wild mustangs.”
In 1971, the Congress adopted the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act –
which stated that wild horses are “an integral part of the natural system
of the public lands” – to protect wild horses from “capture, branding,
harassment, or death.” Since then, the BLM, charged with management of the
animals on public lands, has allowed for the general public to adopt wild
horses that have been captured when their population becomes excessive.
Last summer, the BLM announced that the combined lack of funding,
facilities, and future options may require the killing of as many as 30,000
healthy wild horses and burros. Shortly after, the GAO released the
findings of its investigation, which revealed a host of troubling problems
plaguing the BLM’s wild horse and burro program.
“Protection and management of the wild horses and burros on our public
lands is an important federal responsibility - but it is clear that the
federal government has not been adequately meeting that responsibility,”
said Rahall. “This legislation will remedy many of the critical lapses that
are taking place under the 1971 Act by invoking a number of commonsense
measures, including preventing the BLM from resorting to slaughter as a
solution for management.”
The Restoring Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act (H.R. 1018), introduced by
Rahall and co-sponsored by Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Chairman of the
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, would amend the
landmark 1971 Act to implement changes suggested by the Government
Accountability Office (GAO). The bill would:
• Promote the use of better science to determine whether
the amount of range that is available to wild horses is capable of
• Restore the amount of range available to wild horses when
the law was first enacted in 1971, through a combination of public
and private lands controlled by entities seeking to establish
sanctuaries, and reduce the number of animals that are culled from
the herds and placed in holding facilities.
• Provide the BLM with the authority to enter into
cooperative agreements with private entities to establish wild
horse sanctuaries on non-federal lands.
• Bolster the adoption program and implement sterilization
and other fertility controls.
• Prohibit the killing of healthy wild horses and burros.
The Committee adopted an Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute offered by
Grijalva that included technical and clarifying changes in response to
input from the Administration and advocacy groups.
ALLYSON L. GROFF
Committee on Natural Resources
U.S. House of Representatives
1324 Longworth House Office Building
202.226.9019 | resourcescommittee.house.gov
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