Friends of Animals (FoA) and The Cloud Foundation have filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list North American wild horses on public lands as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) since the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act (WHBA), which was passed in 1971, has failed to protect our wild horses.
Six states have already lost their wild horse populations -- Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. "Misclassification of wild horses as a non-native species is politically, not scientifically driven," said Ginger Kathrens, executive director of The Cloud Foundation. "Wild horses are severely endangered but without recognition of current scientific evidence of their native status, they could become extinct."
In the early 1900s, two million to five million wild horses freely roamed across America, said Jenni Barnes, staff attorney, FoA's Wildlife Law Program. "Now there are less than 35,000 on public lands, where they are supposed to be protected," Barnes said. "The petition states that these few remaining horses are divided into even smaller herds, whose populations are so low that they are susceptible to being wiped out completely by a chance event or change in the environment. Instead of protecting these horses, or just leaving them alone, a government agency, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), plans to remove even more horses from the range with expensive and cruel tactics, such as helicopter driving. BLM is obligated, under WHBA, to protect wild free-roaming horses as an "integral part of the natural system of public lands."