Washington (CNN) - The issue of dragging wild horses away was the topic of a House floor debate Wednesday. Wild horses and burros, actually.
Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton says the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) needs to saddle-up and find a better way to manage the horses and burros that graze public lands. The holding pens they’re put in are expensive and Burton wants to cut $2 million from the “Management of Lands and Resources” account of BLM.
“What I want to do is I want to send a message,” said Burton, R-Indiana. “It costs about 25-hundred dollars per horse to keep them in these pens,” Burton said. “There are other ways to handle this problem.”
Everyone on Capitol Hill seems to agree that there are too many of them, wild horses that is (and burros). How to stop the horses (and burros) from over-breeding is the question, and the reason they wind up in holding pens.
Rep. James Moran, D-Virginia, who also supports Burton’s proposal, complained, “The BLM continues to use helicopters to round-up and remove wild horses from the range and place them in long-term holding facilities. There are about 40,600 horses in these pens, currently.”
Moran called for using contraception instead of pens, BLM’s current approach. He said the pens are “enormously wasteful and misguided.”
“Instead of capturing wild horses and holding them in pens for life, BLM already should have fully implemented a less-costly, preventative and more humane option: That of controlling herd size through contraception,” Moran said.
Moran, citing a study by the U.S. Geological Survey, said the BLM could save up to eight million dollars a year with “the implementation of herd reduction through birth control.”
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, spoke in support of the cut and noted, “The wild horse population is not native to North America and can double every four years. If horses are not removed from the range it can cause degradation and reduce foliage for wildlife and livestock.”
But Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, rose in opposition, saying she’s ridden BLM wild horses and is not carried away by the arguments for the budget cut.
“It is this Congress that has caused the problems by saying we cannot slaughter horses. Yet, we’re not supposed to keep them in pens. We’re supposed to let them overgraze the West,” Lummis said. “When the gentlepeople east of the Mississippi will take these excess horses into their back yards, I will support this amendment.”
Burton’s cut passed the House on a voice vote.