Just Horsin’ Around

December/22/2011 16:46PM
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Our government, the very entity that couldn’t run the Mustang Ranch at a profit has horse issues again. You may remember the Mustang Ranch was a legal brothel in Nevada that was taken over by the government for tax reasons. To big to fail, I guess. A formerly profitable enterprise that the federal government tried to run until a buyer could be found. They shut it down, it lost money.

The federal government has been working hard for years now on the the wild horse problem in this country. Millions have been spent on the problem, $75.6 million this year. Some 40,000 mustangs are pastured in 18 long-term holding pens, most in Kansas and Oklahoma, at an annual cost of $475 each per year. The government cowboys conduct round-ups to put the wild horses into controlled situations since they do so much damage running free. The government has tried contraception, neutering stallions, injecting mares with antifertility drugs, etc.

It hasn’t made a dent in the problem. It’s offset by people turning horses loose because they can’t feed them anymore, a low adoption rate for the same reason, a high birth rate, and a 30-year life expectancy. The budget has gone up every year and the problem has gotten worse.

The word euthanasia is creeping in. But the Bureau of Land Management, part of the Department of Interior, can’t face that option. Nor can they sell without limitation, since buyers might buy to slaughter. Well, up until four years ago, when the government closed the last two horse processing plants in Illinois and Texas.

What to do? Our government lost in a box canyon. Here are the ideas that the BLM was pursuing. Get the horses trained to foster adoption. Hire a consultant, the National Academy of Sciences for $1.3 million to make an analysis and report by spring 2013. And, the one I love, entering into “eco-sanctury” partnerships to pasture captured mustangs on land that would be open to public viewing. Guess the public doesn’t want to see these fine animals penned up in crowded pens.

And the envelope, please. The solution by Obama, a little noticed provision attached to a spending bill(what else does Obama sign), which removed the ban on horse slaughter for food. Guess what, the ban on slaughter never really stopped, it shifted to Mexico and Canada. Supposedly in 2010 ,138,000 horses were transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. The government estimated that 92% of those exported for slaughter were in good health. Two of the horses exported were Exceller and Ferdinand, former race champions. Horse lovers want the government to ban exports.

So, there you have it. After millions of dollars and years of round ups and the closing of horse processing plants, our government throws in the towel. The problem is too big to solve. Let’s just go back to square one, re-open the slaughter houses, and sell our problem to the owners and forget we ever tried to resolve something so complex as wild horses. But, do it quietly, under the radar with zero media exposure. People do love wild horses in this country.

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