BLM may kill captured horses

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1998:

RENO––Bureau of Land
Management director Patrick A. Shea on
February 9 told the newly convened
nine-member Wild Horse and Burro
Advisory Board that while he would
“Oppose the wholesale slaughter” of wild
equines, he would accept a recommendation,
if the board makes it, that unadoptable
horses should be euthanized.
BLM Wild Horse Program head
Tom Pagacnik explained that horses over
age 9 are rarely placed because they resist
gentling, yet might live to age 40 on a
refuge––at cost of about $900 per year.
A three-member fact-finding
panel told the board that some wild horses
lose 200-300 pounds from transport stress
as they are hauled around the U.S. to
adoption events where they repeatedly go
unclaimed––but the BLM has no way to
identify such so-called “frequent flyers.”

The panel also reported that the
margin of error in official estimates of the
U.S. wild equine population may range
from 7% to 60%; the wild equine population
on public land is at twice carrying
capacity (though cattle may outnumber
wild equines on public land by up to 100
to one); adoption demand is down, partly
because outbreaks of strangles at BLM
holding facilities have created a perception
that BLM horses might infect healthy
stables; and that the BLM is five years
behind in transfering title of adopted horses,
and thus has no way of knowing
whether anyone is adopting more than the
legal limit of four horses per year.
Among the Wild Horse and
Burro Advisory Board appointees is Nat
Messer, DVM, chair of the American
Association of Equine Practitioners’
Equine Welfare Committee. In that role,
says Project Equus founder Robin
Duxbury, “Messer has been at the forefront
of advising Wyeth-Ayerst, maker of
Premarin, on how to ‘better manage’
horses on PMU ranches.”
PMU, or pregnant mare’s
urine, is the estrogen source for the estrogen
supplement drug Premarin. PMUproducing
mares are kept pregnant almost
their whole working lives, and are closely
confined, made to wear urine collection
cups, for about nine months a year.
“In a March 1997 article published
by the AAEP,” Duxbury adds,
“Messer is quoted as saying ‘It is my
opinion that mares being utilized for collection
of PMU are not being abused,
neglected, or treated inhumanely. Using
horses to produce a commodity for the
benefit of mankind is appropriate, as long
as the horses receive the type of humane
care they do on these farms.’ The PMU
industry claims the lives of as many as
75,000 foals and exhausted mares each
year, most of whom are sold to slaughter.
Messer has no problem with this. Do we
dare trust his opinion on what is best for
the remaining wild horses and burros?”
Duxbury asks that letters
protesting Messer’s position on the board
be sent to Patrick A. Shea, director,
BLM, Department of Interior, 1849 C
St. NW, Washington, DC 20240.

Wild horse notes
The BLM is to experiment for
the first time on April 4 with selling highdemand
horses to the highest bidder,
instead of by lottery at the standard $125
fee. On the block will be members of the
Sulphur Herd, from Beaver County,
Utah, who are believed to be one of the
herds most directly descended from the
Spanish horses imported to the New
World more than 300 years ago.
Project Equus, begun as a
branch of Animal Rights Mobilization,
is to separate soon and stay in Denver,
while ARM moves to Sacramento, California,
founder Robin Duxbury told ANIMAL
PEOPLE. Duxbury, head of
ARM since 1991, will remain as head of
Project Equus, but is turning ARM over
to longtime volunteer Carla Fechter.
ARM was started as T r a n s – S p e c i e s
U n l i m i t e d by George Cave and D a n a
Stuchel more than 20 years ago. They
left, after changing the name, in 1991.

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