Tens of thousands of wild horses are confronted with mass slaughter after mustangs breed too quickly on the large plains
- Iconic horse of the American West threatens natural ecosystems
- About 37,000 mustangs roam across the US across ten states
- Another 50,000 held in temporary meadows
- Officials say the population has a & # 39; critical mass & # 39; has achieved
They are an icon of the American West and a symbol of the country's border history, but now hundreds of mustang horses are being slaughtered as a result of overcrowding.
Under current legislation, the government pays the ranchers for thousands of these & # 39; wild & # 39; to take horses per year to limit the population. Mustangs are not a native species in America and are known to have a negative effect on natural ecosystems.
The current system for controlling these threats has been around since 1971, but now that feed costs are rising, a growing number of American ranchers are refusing to resist mustangs.
Mustangs are considered a symbol of the border history of the American West
The government uses helicopters to lock up mustangs and thin populations
Campaigners say helicopter farms are cruel and make no distinction between fit horses and old and young populations
Pregnant mares and young foals are sometimes, according to activists, stamped on miles and miles of rough terrain
Officials have warned that the government's own grazing grounds and short-term limits reach overcapacity.
The result could mean that thousands of this precious breed are being slaughtered to contain overpopulation.
An estimated 37,000 wild horses and donkeys roam across ten western states in the US.
Officials say that this is 11,000 more than the manageable population, and the figures are expected to double every four years.
There are around 50,000 wild horses and donkeys that are currently kept in temporary pastures, three times as many as ten years ago.
Despite the crisis in the overpopulation, and the known effects of wild snakes on natural habitats of other native animals, activists continue to compete with the government for managing mustangs in particular.
To dilute the populations of wild herds, helicopters are used to chase mustangs into traps. Some campaigners think this is cruel and harmful to a species that they think America should protect.
Suzanne Roy of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign said that pregnant mares and foals are stamped by helicopters over miles of rugged terrain.
& # 39; Helicopters are not picky, & # 39; she said. & # 39; They beat the very old and the very young with the fit. & # 39;
Authorities have been accused of extinguishing Mustangs. However, only 99 of the 11,000 collected from the plains died last year. That is less than 1%.
Officials are now beginning to recognize that slaughter is the only solution to contain the population.
Government legislation has been criticized for favoring farmers who want to be freed from wild horses to make way for cattle
Officials estimate that just under 50,000 wild horses are kept in temporary grassland
Controversy remains as to whether the mustang can be considered a native animal in North America
Roy denies this and questions the wisdom surrounding the belief that America & # 39; s country cannot support mustang populations.
She claims that the legislation is heavily taxed in favor of cattle farmers who need the land that has been freed up for cattle.
The problem can be tackled better through contraceptive measures with fertility drugs.
Tom Gorey, of the Bureau of Land Management, denied that this would offer an adequate alternative.
He said: & # 39; Logistics [contraception] is very difficult. It has not been shown that it is a magical solution. & # 39;
The US Congress has recognized the mustang as & # 39; a living symbol of the historical and pioneering spirit of the West & # 39 ;.
The first Mustangs are descended from Iberian horses that were brought to Spain and Florida from Spain during the establishment in North America.
Most of these horses were of Andalusian, Arabian and Barb descent and were domesticated animals tamed for human use.
This has led to a dispute as to whether it is entirely correct to use the mustang & # 39; wild & # 39; because it is the descendant of a domestic breed that does not come from the natural habitat.
Native Americans quickly adopted the horse as a primary means of transport. They were also used in battles, trade and yachts, especially when hunting bison.
Some environmentalists claim that the mustang should be classified as native, because there is evidence that horses crossed North America in historic times.
More than half of all Mustangs in North America can be found in Nevada, with other important populations in Montana, Wyoming and Oregon.
The government says the total manageable population in the wild should be 26,000, a figure that is considerably lower than the reality.
& # 39; We are reaching a critical mass & # 39 ;, Tom Gorey added. & # 39; And we don't see an immediate solution. & # 39;
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