Welcome to the fourth and final article in our Trojan War on Horses series. Thus far we have discussed the mismanagement of the BLM, the irresponsible advocacy of Wild Horse Education and Laura Leigh, and rancher Kevin Borba. If you missed any of the previous articles they can be found HERE. Today we will be discussing the different solutions offered to help solve the horse crisis.
The first solution is offered by none other than Laura Leigh and Wild Horse Education. Although the organization has stated on several occasions that their goal was to gain better knowledge about the number of horses that land can sustain, they continue to advocate a completely hands-off approach.
Appropriate management levels have already been determined, thus further study would be beyond pointless. The studies have already been completed and the statistics show that only a specific number of feral horses or less can live on certain amounts of land. Lack of food and water, destruction of ecosystems, and lack of predators has made it even harder than normal for these numbers to remain sustainable. Yet, the BLM has failed to limit the number of feral horses and often times there are 2, 3, or up to 10 times as many horses as the land can sustain, or more!
Leigh claims that the animals are better off in the wild. She has even demanded legal action against ranchers who have gone out their way to water and care for the animals. And, despite no support from veterinarians, has made unfounded claims that wild animals are healthy and heal easier than domestic horses (despite no physical differences in the animals themselves).
On top of her ‘advocacy,’ she has continuously used negative propaganda and slander against her opposition and the supporters of the other groups who offer solutions. At one point she even said what was happening to the horses was a “hidden holocaust,” showing insensitivity to the victims and families of victims of one of humanity’s darkest and most gruesome moments in history, comparing a proud race of humans to horses.
This approach has not and will never work to appropriately manage the feral horse population. There are simply too many horses and not enough land to ‘let them be’. The horses are eating and drinking themselves to extinction and with no limitations they will ALL die out, which is why appropriate management is so important.
The next approach is offered by various other animal rights organizations, including the Humane Society, which is the utilization of Shelters and Sanctuaries. Like they do with many other animals, these groups feel that the animals would be better off if grouped up and left to die naturally or adopted out.
A major problem with horse sanctuaries is that they are full. There’s simply no way around that. The BLM now gives over 70% of its annual budget to holding costs (63%) and adoptions (7%). The amount that goes towards gathers has dropped below 2%. Ranges are overflowing with feral horses and sanctuaries are full, despite the nearly $45,000 lifetime cost to the taxpayer the each horse costs to live in a sanctuary.
Wild horses are taking millions of dollars at no benefit to the taxpayer, and at this point the BLM is barely taking any more horses off of the ranges. Shelters are not sustainable solutions for the horse problem. They take up too much money with no return and fail to actually solve the problem.
The next solution was caused by the 2007 closing of U.S. horse processing facilities. After the American outlets were taken off of the table, many individuals and Native American tribes began sending their feral or unusable domestic horses to processing facilities outside the United States.
According to statistics, in 2007, the last year of operational U.S. horse processing facilities, barely over 47,000 horses were sent overseas for processing. The very next year, over 100,000 were sent and around 130,000 the year after that. Since the ban, there has been a 660% increase in horses exported from the U.S. to Mexico. Objectively, this was a success for humans. Processing was carried out and over 1,380,000 pounds of horse meat was imported back into the U.S. Yet, this cost more and adds a greater risk for the horses that are sent.
Common sense tells us that the longer you transport something the easier it is for that thing to get damaged, and horses are no different. No person wants a greater chance of unneeded harm to happen to the horses, regardless of if they are headed to a processing facility or not. Sending horses overseas is not an ideal solution, but it is a more viable solution than the others offered thus far.
Then, there are those who take another stance, and that is that the U.S. processing centers should be reopened. In this instance, a humane end for many of these horses would be provided at a very low chance of harm coming to the animals transported. It would be cost effective for taxpayers and open up a multimillion dollar industry while providing many jobs for American citizens.
At one point, even Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, agreed that the processing ban must be lifted, having said “the amount of suffering that it created exceeded the amount of suffering it was designed to stop.”
When PETA is willing to put aside its mostly radical and often dreadful agenda in order to take the position that these facilities should be re-opened, it should become 100% apparent that this is the best possible solution to a growing problem.
We know that there is no perfect solution, but it HAS to happen. Animals are a vital source of food for the population of this world. Do we wish that the horses could be spared? Yes. Do we wish that there was and will always be enough food to go around? Of course. However, these things don’t just happen because we wish them, and we have to make rational decisions that will affect generations to come. Even if they are processed for products other than food, it is a sound way to manage their population. This senseless processing ban has too many negative consequences to ignore.
However unsavory the thought of horse processing is to you, it is the only viable option that we have to ensure the survival of the wild horses, ecosystems, and other wild animals that the horses are affecting.
Those participating in the advocacy of the first few options are also participating in the Trojan War on horses – claiming that they want to help, that they are good, when in reality they are putting the horses at a greater risk. Yes, we recognize the consequences of horse processing, but we also made our decision to support it with a rational mind and taking into consideration factor outside of emotion; we encourage you to do the same.