Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today introduced the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Protection Act of 2022 to ensure the humane management of wild horses and burros and protect them from slaughter. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) are original cosponsors of the bill.
This new legislation will amend the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, which was signed into law in 1971. In the more than fifty years since that law was passed, wild horse and burro populations have grown dramatically and climate change has impacted public lands, causing major management challenges for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Protection Act of 2022 will institute much-needed reforms to wild horse and burro management by transitioning BLM away from dangerous and fiscally irresponsible management strategies towards humane on-range management that supports jobs and local economies. The bill will prioritize fertility control, which keeps horses in the wild and saves taxpayer dollars.
"Wild horses and burros are American icons and an irreplaceable part of our nation's landscape," said Chair Grijalva. "These special creatures deserve federal protections that recognize their importance and ensure they are treated humanely. I'm grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working together to craft modern-day solutions that keep wild horses and burros on the range."
"This legislation is about more than just saving these incredible creatures who roam free today, it's about ensuring the great wild horses and burros of Arizona and America live on for generations to come," said Rep. Schweikert. "I'm proud to work on this bipartisan bill with my colleagues to secure protections for these important and threatened animals."
"Nevada is home to the largest population of wild horses in the nation and I have seen time and time again how they continue to be endangered, both during roundups and after they have been removed from the land," said Rep. Titus. "This bill will ensure that these creatures are treated with respect and care. I will continue to fight for animal welfare and the protection of these iconic denizens of the Wild West."
"It is crucial that we continue to provide federal resources and ensure the protection of our nation's wild horses," said Rep. Fitzpatrick. "I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation which will reform management techniques and accountability measures with regard to the sensible, humane treatment of wild equines."
"America's wild horses and burros are majestic icons of our country and deserve protection to ensure their health and vibrancy," said Rep. Cohen. "This legislation will modernize the 50-year-old protections and provide the Bureau of Land Management meaningful requirements to ensure the animals are safe in their environment."
"Coloradans are uniquely aware of the vital role of wild horses and burros in the American West," said Rep. Neguse. "We must update protections enacted decades ago to better reflect current herd-management needs and ensure the ethical and humane treatment of these animals."
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Protection Act of 2022 promotes humane management strategies, increases transparency and good government, protects wild horses and burros from slaughter, and promotes partnerships with nonprofit organizations and veterans. Specifically, this legislation will:
Prohibit the slaughter of wild horses and burros and repeal the "Burns Amendment."
Protect wild horses and burros from being killed or destroyed as a population management tool.
Require the use of humane, minimally invasive, scientifically proven fertility control and prioritize humane management strategies.
Require creation and enforcement of regulations to ensure animal welfare for all aspects of wild horse and burro handling and management.
Emphasize partnerships with veterans and nonprofits to implement fertility control vaccine programs.
Prohibit cash incentives for adopting a wild horse or burro, prohibit adopters from sending animals to slaughter, and require compliance checks for adopters.
Require the Secretary of the Interior to track and report the number of wild horses or burros killed or injured during a roundup in a publicly available online database.