Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Politics
  3. Policy & Issues

Arizona agency lobbies for wild horse euthanasia


Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD),  is recommending the Bureau of Land Management euthanize healthy excess wild horses and burros as a management alternative. 


In a letter addressed to  BLM director Bob Abbey, AZGFD Director Larry Voyles  states,  “In order to have a truly open dialogue and consideration for all viable management alternatives, the BLM should reconsider the inclusion of two options, which have been identified as “off the table” for the development of the new draft strategy: 1) euthanasia of healthy excess animals, and 2) their sale without limitation.”


While the BLM did indeed request comment from all stake holders on the Bureaus Wild Horse and Burro Strategy Development document until september 3, press releases and the document itself  clearly designated these two management alternatives  as “off the table”. 


BLM’s 2008 announcement  that it was considering the euthanasia of more than 30,000  wild horses  brought a tidal wave of public outrage.  Pressure to mend  a broken program followed shortly thereafter.  Congress has repeatedly denied funding for euthanasia and all indications are that denial will continue.  


The “sale without limitation” clause, already in limited use, came about in 2004 with the now infamous Burns’ Rider NO. 142.  An undetected amendment, silently added to  an appropriations bill  during a Thanksgiving holiday  by then Senator Conrad Burns, passed through Congress with no knowledge of its existence and no legislative debate.  Sale without limitation allows BLM to  sell qualifying equines with no protections for their welfare, usually at a next to nothing price.  Within four months after George Bush signed the bill into law in 2005,  documented cases of BLM horses sold for slaughter  started to surface.  


BLM’s current posting on Facebook states, “ Since 2005,  the Bureau has sold more than 4,100 horses and burros.  A   Sept. 2009 BLM fact sheet  refers to such results as  achieving, " limited success as implemented."


The body of AZGFD’s letter reveals an agency,  not unlike the BLM itself,  basing  decisions on obsolete information.  Scientific references  used to substantiate  claims of detrimental effects of wild equids on other forms of wildlife are an average of over 17 years old ,with only 20% being less than 10 years old.  One reference cited is a Vertebrae Pest conference  from 1974, some 36 years ago.  It is doubtful any of these documents would meet National Environmental Protection Agency requirements.


AZGFD expresses  concern regarding the “accurate ecological or evolutionary understanding of wild horses and burros on the North American continent. “ The agency’s claim that ,“ wild horses and burros are not native to North America ” is in direct conflict  with accepted scientific evidence of Equus Caballus evolution on the North American continent.  


Director Larry Voyles offered  his expert testimony  to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee  against passage of the ROAM Act ( HR 1018) in March of last year.  It is presumed that at least a portion of his testimony  was based on the aforementioned scientific evidence.  The Committee voted to pass the act which has since stalled  in the Senate.


Perhaps the AZGFD  should  take their own advice on two important points,  “ It is imperative, though, that any public outreach, marketing, environmental education, and showcasing accurately and thoroughly tell the story  of free-roaming wild horses and burros.”  and  , ‘ The Department fully supports attempts to research, develop, and incorporate the best scientific knowledge and applications available to aid in the management of wild horses and burros.”



BLM DIrector Bob Abbey’s Washington office has not responded to multiple requests for comment



Comments on the Wild Horse and Burro Strategy Development Document can be submitted either: (1) by e-mail to ( “WHB Public Comment” is required in the subject line); (2) by mail to BLM Washington Office, 1849 C Street NW, Rm. 5665, Washington, DC 20240 (if mailing, comments need to be postmarked no later than September 3, 2010); or (3) using the ePlanning process accessible online at   COMMENT PERIOD ENDS SEPT. 3.


UPDATE:  "See Congress joins the wild horse waiting list"  for BLM's response


  • Ge 3 years ago

    I think the entire issue of slaughter and genocide of our nation's wild horses and burros is completely motivated by ignorance and greed. It's about politicians who have a financial interest in the cattle business raping the land and ridding it of the natural and historical inhabitants. It's about lies, deceipt, torture and death of a huge piece of this country's hertitage. I, and a MAJORITY od Americans are opposed to this innappropriate slaughter of innocent animals and we want our ELECTED government officials to listen to our united voices.

  • Geoff Saunders 3 years ago

    A repeat of the disgraceful slaughter of our nations Bisons in the 1800's. It would appear we have learned nothing from our past mistakes.

  • Catherine Ritlaw 3 years ago

    My taxes pay Az. Game & Fish's wages. HOW DARE THEY! They will be hearing from me. These are America's horses- mine and yours. They will be slaughtered over my dead body.

  • Diane Symons 3 years ago

    Its all about money. When our gov changed everything went down hill. The cattle people want the most beautiful animals gone. Like the Bisons. I never thought I would see the day that our horses would be killed never. We pay taxes for that land we had 80 million acres given to them and we paid taxes for the land for years now they just come in and take them who gives them the right. It is time we speak out and not over the computer but at the White House let them know we do not want this to continue.

  • Fed Up With The System 3 years ago

    I was appalled at the lack of humane treatment extended to a truckload of horses/burros that came to Gainesville, Georgia a few weeks back. These horses were all underweight [some more than others, none more than about 150 pounds under]. ALL of these animals' adoption fee was $25. Obviously the BLM has no intention of doing the normal 1-year before ownership and they never have had enough people to perform the required home check up before turning over ownership. If these people cannot afford the normal $125 adoption fee, what makes the BLM think that they have enough money to properly feed and care for these animals? People are financially strapped and turning loose their own horses because they can no longer care for them or, worse yet, they have just run out of feed and the horses stand around starving until somebody notices and reports them. Stop the idiots that go to the auctions and buy mares/stallions, breed them without cause, just to take babies/yearlings back to sell.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    I think the entire issue of slaughter and genocide of our nation's wild horses and burros is completely motivated by ignorance and greed. It's about politicians who have a financial interest in the cattle business raping the land and ridding it of the natural and historical inhabitants. It's about lies, deceipt, torture and death of a huge piece of this country's hertitage. I, and a MAJORITY od Americans are opposed to this innappropriate slaughter of innocent animals and we want our ELECTED government officials to listen to our united voices. These horses belong to the American people of the US!!

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    The wild horses are the spirit of America, why now are they not wanted anymore. They are a symbol of freedom, of beauty, of the glory of America.
    Does the almighty dollar, have something to do with it? Someone in government needs to stand up for the wild horses. It is the wild horses now, what will it be next?
    Our old people or our children, or too many women and not enough men.
    Evidently, they have never owned a horse or known the love of one.
    Horse are like other animals, they have therapudic qualitites.
    People, the horse were here before we were, if anyone needs thinning out, it is us. We took the land from the Native Americans and that is not enough, now you want to take it from the very symbol of American freedom.

  • Barbara Ellen Ries 3 years ago

    Wake up America, " kill all the large mammals we will be next in the great chain of being." Living without Wild Horses is bad choice over hamburgers. In my world there is room for all wild horses.

  • Used to be in AZ 3 years ago

    Anybody know what the going $$$ amount is these days that the huge cattle ranchers pay, per head, to graze on OUR WILD OPEN RANGE ??? I doubt it's gone up much. in the 80's it was $1.25/head all year long. Our wild horses are competing for the grass and the ranchers are the driving force behind the extermination!!
    When ranchers can hire Government Approved assassins to remove mountain lions from the range because they "suspect" they are taking out calves.... What gives them the right? It's not just the horses they are after here. They feel their pittance is the green light to control anything else that calls that range HOME.

    Home, home on the range?? Where the deer and the antelope and the wild horses no longer roam?

  • Profile picture of carrol abel
    carrol abel 3 years ago

    I believe the current rate for grazing allotments is $1.34 per AUM. No wonder ranchers are worried about loosing their right to graze public lands. It would cost them $13 to $16 elsewhere. I say raise the rate to equal that charged elsewhere in the U.S. Maybe the grazing program would come onto the positive side of the ledger, profits could be used to repair damage done to range lands and BLM wouldn't need to remove horses. Gee! What a logical way to accomplish multiple use.

  • almut, germany 3 years ago

    these horses are world property, they are "wild" ....if somenone "took care" of my horses the way the blm does, i would detain him, consider him a thief !
    this is a very respectless behaviour towards an animal that has served mankind for ever...
    it is time for people to protect their horses and get rid of thieves!

  • Nancy Babcock 3 years ago

    As has been said before, it's all about money. wild horses don't generate income (although they could in eco-tourism), and cattle do-- for their corporate/big business owners who finance huge lobbying efforts However, once the horses are gone, cattle will e next, because even bigger money interests are in mining, oil, gas, wind farms. Ranchers will be in the position wild horse advocates are now--and then their lobbying won't pay off because bigger money is elsewhere. A very sad commentary on the very sick western/industrialized culture where the worth of anything is defined first and foremost by its monetary value.

  • IronHorse 3 years ago

    The spirit of America, or lack there of: All the barbaric murdering of innocent animals, Wild Mustangs, Burros that have every God created right to occupy the lands that were stolen from the Native Americans, for the "almighty" federal reserve out of thin air printing-press fiat dollar....

    Where have all the good men gone....

    If JFK were alive today he would be quoting....
    Ask not what the Wild Mustangs can and did for you, but what you can do for the Wild Mustangs....



  •  Day 17
    Israel continues their ravaging bombardment on Gaza as the conflict wages on
  • MH17 victims arrive home
    40 bodies of the MH17 plane crash return to a somber homecoming in Holland
    Top News
  • Military advisers to Ukraine
    President Obama announces the deployment of military advisers to Ukraine
  • Bubonic plague in China
    A bubonic plague outbreak in Yumen prompts China to quarantine the city
    World News
  • Air Algierie disappearance
    A flight headed from Burkina Faso to Algeria disappears from radar over Mali
  • Windows Phone training portal
    Microsoft launches Windows Phone training portal in attempt to woo consumers