Thanks to a federal judge, the US Bureau of Land Management will be able to complete their wild horse roundup in Nevada. Officials are expecting the roundup to be record-breaking. Last year, the record was broken when a total of 13,066 wild horses were captured. This year, they’re expecting to capture upwards of 19,000. The roundup isn’t just happening in Nevada, though. Overall, the roundup will take place in 10 western states.
The Bureau of Land Management has been sued by activists in the past. They say that rounding up these wild horses causes an unnecessary amount of them to die. In fact, the activists went so far as to say that the bureau was breaking the law by “needlessly and recklessly” killing the animals. However, government data says otherwise. According to the data, only 1.1% of horses are killed during the roundup. So far, this year’s roundup has been consistent with that mortality rate.
According to the New York Post, these roundups need to happen for the survival of wild horses. In the wild, they have many different challenges that can impact their lives. For one, areas are severely overpopulated with them. On top of that, they often have to deal with extreme drought and scarce food supplies. “This is a very high priority (for the bureau),” Justice Department lawyer Maggie Smith told US District Judge Miranda Du.
Willie Nelson Among Those Fighting For Wild Horse Freedom
However, not everyone agrees with those statements. Activists were sure to counter Smith’s comments with their own information about what happens to wild horses. According to the American Wild Horse Campaign, “Wild horses and burros who survive roundups are stockpiled in government holding facilities. Those who can’t be adopted or auctioned off are sentenced to a lifetime of being warehoused in long-term holding facilities. At the worst, wild horses end up in the slaughter pipeline.”
Towards the end of last year, Willie Nelson even gave his two cents on the whole thing. Of course, he wants to let the animals stay wild. It’s the American way. To him, and to many others, the animals are the exact representation of what it means to be American. They’re legendary, iconic, an American namesake.
The singer himself is an avid animal lover, especially horses. He’s got a 700-acre ranch that is home to more than 70 rescues. Nelson wrote an open letter to fans, telling them about what happens to these wild horses and how to help stop it. He encouraged anyone who was interested in helping to contact their local members of Congress. “Wild horses, like other wild animals, were meant to be wild and free,” he wrote. “Historic family bands are broken as the horses are separated forever. Some are adopted or sold, and many thousands more end up living in crowded corrals or leased pastures, exposed to the elements. Some end up slaughtered for human consumption overseas.”
To Nelson, activists, and others throughout the US, these horses have always been “historic symbols of American freedom.”