Wild horses in government holding facilities in the US are set to be killed to make room for cattle farms.
Following a vote from the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board of the Bureau of Land Management, up to 45,000 wild horses are set to be culled using taxpayers’ money as part of an “emergency measure”.
No details have yet been disclosed how the agency would kill the animals or when.
The animals have already been moved so that the private land could be used to graze cattle for profit.
There are less than 50,000 wild horses in the entire country.
The advisory board, which can only make recommendations, voted that the BLM should “offer all suitable animals in long and short term holding deemed unadoptable for sale without limitation or humane euthanasia. Those animals deemed unsuitable for sale should then be destroyed in the most humane manner possible.”
Holly Hazard, senior vice president of programs and innovations at the Humane Society of the United States, said the vote was a result of the agency's “long-term mismanagement”.
“The decision of the BLM advisory board to recommend the destruction of the 45,000 wild horses currently in holding facilities is a complete abdication of responsibility for their care,” she said in a statement.
The BLM said it tried contraceptive injections for the animals, which were recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, but said they were not “practical”.
Only one person on the BLM’s wild horse advisory board voted against the euthanasia.
Ginger Kathrens, the volunteer executive director of The Cloud Foundation, said authorities must remain “vigilant” to prevent the killing.
The US congress would have to approve the measure before it takes place.
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