Solution to wild horse overpopulation

Orvin Ravnaas

Turtle Lake

I read the story in Sunday’s paper about wild horses. The Bureau of Land Management is required by the Wild Free – Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 to maintain the wild horse herd at about 27,000 head. Presently there are about 70,000 wild horses.

Horses are not native to North America so have no natural predators. The herds will grow until ranges are ruined and starvation controls the numbers.

At one time it was legal to round up wild horses so people could use them for riding, work, or slaughter. That became illegal, so for many years the Bureau of Land Management paid feedlots and farmer/ranchers to feed the excess horses. Currently this cost exceeds $1 billion and the BLM’s budget is used up.

About 15 to 20 years ago, the United States had a viable horse slaughter industry. Wild horses couldn’t be killed but excess domestic horses were processed. People lobbied Congress to make all horse slaughter illegal so the industry died. The value of a cull horse fell from over $1 per pound to nothing. The market for excess horses didn’t exist and people were forced to feed them even though the horses were no longer used.

The law to ban horse slaughter destroyed the value of private property so many of the horses were released into the wild. Horses will never quit breeding so the herds need to be controlled.

It is now legal to slaughter horses in the United States, but no money has been allocated for USDA inspection of the process. The solution to the horse problem is a viable slaughter industry to use excess and cull horses, domestic and wild.

Why are horses any different than cattle, sheep, or hogs? Horse meat makes very good summer sausage


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