Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Restoring Our American Mustangs” (ROAM) Act. This legislation, supported by the Humane Society of the United States, would protect wild horses and burros from commercial sale and slaughter. At the same time, it would implement proactive solutions to manage wild horses that will save millions of tax dollars.
For more than 30 years, wild horses and burros had been protected from commercial sale and slaughter with passage of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. However, a midnight maneuver by former Sen. Conrad Burns in 2004 gutted these long-standing protections.
The ROAM Act would undo the problems caused by Senator Burns’ amendment, requiring the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to make humane management of horses an agency priority. This move would diminish the need for costly round-ups and large-scale housing of captive wild horses. The bill directs the BLM to use fertility control more widely and find appropriate acreage for these animals, ultimately allowing horses to reside on lands they formally occupied.
In addition to requiring consistency and accuracy in the management of wild horse and burro herds, this legislation prevents the commercial sale and slaughter of horses, as well as the wholesale killing of healthy wild horses. Last summer, in response to self-inflicted financial problems and mismanagement, the BLM announced that it would consider killing 30,000 healthy wild horses and burros in federal holding centers across the United States rather than implementing common sense, cost-saving management methods. This must not be allowed to happen.
Horses are an inspiration, a symbol of America and the spirit of our American West. It is unacceptable for them to be slaughtered without any regard for their health and well-being. The ROAM Act guarantees the continued presence of our nation’s iconic wild horses. Congress has the ways and the means to humanely reduce our wild horse population without restoring to slaughter. Achieving this would be both the morally right and fiscally sound action.