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Senate approves more funding to round up wild horses, protection group disapproves

WASHINGTON D.C. (KVOA) - The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has decided to increase the budget to round up wild horses in fiscal year 2021 by $14.2 million, an appropriation to the Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Program.  

In a news release Tuesday, the American Wild Horse Campaign, which describes itself as the nation’s leading wild horse protection organizations, is expressing disappointment with the Committee's decision. 

The AWHC says in May the Bureau of Land Management said it was going to use the funding to round up as many as 20,000 federally-protected wild horses and burros a year from Western public lands and place them into taxpayer-funded holding corrals costing up to $1 billion over the next five years, according to the release. 

The Senate bill carries over the $21 million budget increase Congress already awarded the Wild Horse and Burro Program last fiscal year and adds an additional $14.2 million more, according to AWHC. 

The AWHC says in July the U.S. House approved a bipartisan wild horse protection amendment to its appropriations bill that directs BLM to use at least $11 million of its annual operating budget for its Wild Horse and Burro Program on the humane and proven safe fertility control vaccine, PZP. The amendment is consistent with scientific recommendations and previous guidance from Congress urging the BLM to increase the use of PZP fertility control as a step toward moving away from the current inhumane and unsustainable roundup and stockpiling program, according to AWHC.  

“The Senate Appropriations Committee is throwing even more money at the BLM’s unsustainable program without any requirements to change the broken management system,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the AWHC. “The House has sent the BLM a strong bipartisan directive to quit tossing away hard-earned tax dollars on brutal helicopter roundups and holding corrals and begin implementing PZP birth control -- the Senate should join them.” 

According to AWHC, The BLM currently spends 71% of its budget to roundup and remove horses from the public lands and zero percent of the budget is spent to implement humane management of horses on the range to slow the population with birth control. AWHC says as currently written, nothing in the Senate bill would prevent the BLM from spending the entire newly allocated $116 million to roundup and warehouse wild horses.  

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Chorus Nylander

Chorus Nylander is the Chief Investigative Reporter for News 4 Tucson. He is focused on giving the voiceless a voice and holding the powerful accountable.

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