KBR Wild Horse and Burro News Editorial


Story date: March, 1999

A few months ago I was involved in a newsgroup debate with someone over the subject of sending former BLM horses to slaughter. The question was posed to me, "Why is butchering horses any different than beef cattle?"

Well, I thought about that question for a short time and here is my answer.

We don't eat horses in our society. We don't eat dogs or cats either, although some other cultures do. We live by our standards and our values, and we don't have to condone what others do.

In some other countries men actually own their wives. Wives are considered chattel or property. There are a few Afghani immigrants who are in prison today because they sold their minor daughters to interested suitors. Such behavior is not acceptable here.

Even more significant is the fact that the federal government subsidizes the Adopt-a-Wild Horse or Burro program to a significant degree. The adoption fees which the BLM collects amount to about 10% of the costs of capturing and caring for the animals which are offered for adoption. Congress did not intend for such subsidies to benefit people who would exploit the program in order to make a quick buck.

With these arguments in mind, I stand firm in my belief that slaughtering BLM horses in nearly every instance is wrong.

In contrast, I recently had a person chastise me regarding my "moderate" position regarding the wild horse - slaughterhouse issue. She was apparently referring to the tone of this Wild Horse and Burro site. My response to her was a series of questions.

    "Have you ever adopted a wild horse or burro?"


    "Have you ever owned a former wild horse or burro?"


    "Have you ever been to a BLM adoption?"


    "Have you ever been to a BLM adoption center?"


    "Have you ever visited a herd management area?"


    "Have you ever talked to a real-live BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program employee?"


In fact, all this possibly well intentioned person did was read a newspaper report and listen to some hearsay comments made by others who may have gotten their "facts" from the same news report, and then went about bashing anyone whom she felt had any responsibility for a problem which she truly didn't understand. After committing countless hours to developing this website in an attempt to present reasonably objective, factual and thorough information, I found this particular lady's attitude to be most offensive.

Too much of this wild horse thing is running on emotion. I recognize that emotion is an important fuel to motivate people into action, but without some real hard facts, logically applied, this emotional response can do far more harm than most people realize.

There are a good number of people in this country, some with significant financial interests in what happens on BLM lands, who regard the wild horses as prairie rats which should simply be expeditiously exterminated. They are not a natural species and these animals stand in the way of these individuals' exploitation of the land. Other citizens simply don't like the subsidy of taxpayer money for the adoption program. Both of these groups love to see the infighting among the various wild horse advocates as well as attacks by horse lovers on the BLM program.

Some of the BLM's enemies are serious enough in their assaults that they have bombed BLM offices and facilities. It certainly stands to reason that they would also stoop to lesser devilishness such as planting exaggerated stories of "widespread corruption and horse abuse". What a better way to support their ongoing battle that to stick the BLM in the middle between their attacks on one side, and wild horse advocates waging an assault on the other.

As the BLM's credibility in Congress diminishes, so goes the viability of the wild horse and burro program. Wild horses have few natural predators and their unchecked population growth affects not only the health of the horses themselves, but also a great number of other plants and animals which share the habitat. Presently there are two legal options for keeping the wild herds "in balance" with the environment; adopting them out or killing them off. While there is some experimentation with birth control, it is not likely in this day and time that Congress is going to throw more money at the program.

Furthermore, for the program to be workable, it can't be so complicated that the BLM is unable to effectively operate it, and it can't have so many strings attached that the horses aren't attractive to adopters. While most people agree that some aspects of the Adopt-A-Wild Horse or Burro Program need some attention, what we have is probably the best type of program that we are going to get and we need to expend our efforts in helping make it work as it should, not tearing it apart.

The problem with which we concern ourselves involves far more than a few wild horses. They are just unwitting pawns in a much larger game. Therefore we need to be both diligent and constructive as to how we confront the problems which we perceive. Otherwise we may just blow up the very bridge that we may soon need to cross.

Willis Lamm

Questions? Comments? email me!

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