Animal Wellness Action (AWA), the Center for a Humane Economy (CHE), and the Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) have been working for the past three years to ensure the protection of America’s wild horses and burros. They have recently partnered with actress Katherine Heigl to help stop the mass round-up and removal of up to 80 per cent of the Onaqui wild horses of western Utah.

Heigl, who lives in Summit County and keeps horses at her ranch in the Kamas Valley, said in a release this week from AWA, CHE, and AWF on the Associated Press’ website:

“With their historic place on the public lands of Utah, the Onaqui horses are living treasures that contribute to the beauty of the Great Basin Desert, as well as the economic vitality of nearby communities. Instead of cruel helicopter roundups, I call on the Bureau of Land Management to leave the Onaqui horses on the land, manage them humanely with fertility control, and limit livestock grazing to protect the ecosystem.”

The roundup is scheduled to begin July 12 and will result in between 300-400 of the 500 horses being permanently removed from their Herd Management Area (HMA). Once in holding, the options are few, and many wild horses are adopted out. However, a recent investigation by the New York Times revealed that many of the horses thought to be adopted are actually being funnelled straight into the slaughter pipeline and ending up on foreign dinner plates.

According to an AWA press release, “Big Beef” interests like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) want to eradicate the wild equids on the range to utilize the lands to graze cattle, paying a small sum yearly for grazing permits. In April, Animal Wellness Action was joined by more than 70 groups in a letter to Secretary Deb Haaland calling for a freeze on grazing permits. There’s been no response from Haaland despite the media contacting the Secretary’s Office. More than 90 groups, rescues, businesses and 1,100 individuals were represented in a letter to the President calling for Biden to immediately place a moratorium on the roundups. The White House has so far declined to comment.

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~ with files from Marty Irby