Willie Nelson pens emotional letter demanding protection for wild horses

When we think of wild animals, horses aren’t the first kind that comes to mind.

But there are several places in the U.S. where wild horses roam public land.

According to American Wild Horse Campaign, wild horses are found on government-designated Herd Management Areas in states like Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.

The organization says that six states have already lost their wild horse populations. The pressure to remove horses from the wild is mounting.

Special interests and private livestock companies continue to pressure government agencies like the Bureau of Land Management to use the land where the wild horses reside.

Musician Willie Nelson’s organization Return to Freedom, Wild Horse Conservation said the problem began with laws passed by Congress.

“Fifty years ago, Congress unanimously voted in protections for America’s wild horses and burros through a law called the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. That might have been the end of the story if Congress hadn’t then passed a multiple-use mandate forcing wild horses, burros and other wildlife to share the protected land with private livestock grazing, energy projects, and public recreation. It created conflict between the Bureau of Land Management, ranchers, energy developers, and wild horse advocates, and has created a situation where the wild horses are outnumbered,” Nelson wrote in a statement on the organization’s Facebook page.

Nelson says that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) now uses taxpayer funding to round up and limit the number of wild horses in certain areas when they feel like populations are growing too large.

The Animal Legal Defense Funds says that wild horses are sometimes rounded up and placed in horrific conditions where they are crammed into trailers.

They are also mixed in with unfamiliar horses, which causes them to injure each other. Many of wild horses are sent to the slaughterhouse, where they are shot in the head with a bolt gun.

“Wild horses, like other wild animals, were meant to be wild and free. Historic family bands are broken as the horses are separated forever. Some are adopted or sold, and many thousands more end up living in crowded corrals or leased pastures, exposed to the elements. Some end up slaughtered for human consumption overseas,” Nelson explains.

Nelson cares deeply about horses. According to My Modern Met, he has more than 70 living on his 700-acre ranch outside of Austin, TX.

Many of them were rescued from being sent to the slaughterhouse.

“My horses are probably the luckiest horses in the world,” said Nelson in a 2019 interview. “They get hand-fed twice a day, and they were just ready to go to slaughter is probably the last thing they remembered, so they’re happy horses.”

Nelson wants to ensure that horses remain wild and free and don’t need to be rescued, and is urging the public to help.

He is calling on the public to pressure the Bureau of Land Management and lawmakers to protect wild horses by passing the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act.

“Help us break the cycle of wild horse roundup and removal by calling your members of Congress today through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and urging them to support all efforts in Congress to end the massive roundups of wild horses, and increase the use of safe and humane fertility control; also to protect all horses from slaughter by passing the SAFE Act immediately. Our elected officials must know this is a priority for the American people. Let’s heal our divisions by coming together for this common purpose,” Nelson writes.

The SAFE act would permanently ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and prohibit the export of horses for slaughter in other countries.

The passing of this law could save countless Wildhorse from a cruel fate.

You can learn more about how you can help to save wild horses here.

Check out a video of some of the horses Return to Freedom, Wild Horse Conservation helps below!

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