A move by the US government to cull wild mustangs in the western states of America has enraged animal welfare activists.
“It is killing pure and simple to balance the books for an agency whose reckless management has caused immeasurable harm to a national treasure” said Chris Heyde of the Animal Welfare Institute, based in Washington D.C.
Mr Heyde said the cull, proposed by the US Bureau of Land Management, is designed to placate ranchers who view horses as competition for grazing on the range. There are approximately 33,000 wild horses in 10 western states in the US, with half of those in Nevada. The US government has set a target appropriate management level of 27,000. There are already 30,000 horses in holding facilities waiting to be adopted by the American public.
Ron Cerri, president-elect of the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association, said ranchers would prefer horses to be adopted but euthanasia may be necessary to keep numbers down: “Unfortunately, it’s something they’ll have to consider. I don’t know of another solution.”
This is the first time the US government has advocated culling animals since the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act in 1971 was passed to protect equines.