Dear Ms. Lawrence:
Thank you for writing to me regarding the management of the wild horse population on our public lands. I appreciate hearing from you and share your concerns.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), there are more than 36,000 wild horses and burros on the range and more than 31,000 in holding facilities, where many are offered for adoption. Citing increasing costs and low adoption rates, BLM officials say that budgetary constraints make it difficult to properly care for horses in excess of its target "appropriate management level" of 26,600.
The BLM has considered various options in its effort to minimize costs and control the increasing wild horse and burro population. Among these controversial options are the use of euthanasia on healthy animals and the unconditional sale of older horses that have been unsuccessfully offered for adoption. Unfortunately, the sale of horses without limitations could lead to horse slaughter.
As a long-time supporter of wildlife conservation, I believe that destroying these magnificent animals is never a viable management option. The BLM should more seriously consider alternative, more humane solutions such as improving the adoption program, exploring the use of contraceptives or sterilization to reduce herd sizes, or securing additional funds for a more effective program.
I am pleased to report that the Senate Interior Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2010 would provide $67.5 million for the Wild Horse and Burro Management Program, a $26.9 million increase from FY2009. I strongly support providing this funding for the program to ensure the proper care of these animals.
I also support legislation to expand the range where wild horses could roam freely, enhance the adoption program, encourage the use of non-lethal methods to reduce herd size, reduce the time a horse spends in a holding pen, and prohibit the euthanization or sale for slaughter of wild horses. On July 17, 2009, the House passed the Restore Our Wild Mustangs (ROAM) Act (H.R.1018), which would accomplish all of these goals. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
In addition, I believe strongly in a permanent ban on horse slaughter. That is why I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (S.727) to prohibit the transport, export, or sale of any horse to be slaughtered for human consumption.
I have consistently supported legislation to protect horses, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass the ROAM Act and the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act and to see both of these important bills signed into law.
Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. Rest assured that I will continue to support efforts to maintain the integrity of wild horse and burro populations on our public lands.
United States Senator
Please do not respond to this message. If you would like to comment on legislation, please visit my website and use the correspondence form at https://boxer.senate.gov/contact/email/policy.cfm
I'm sure five million trillion other people got the same letter, but hey, it's good to know where she stands on these issues!