Federal officials are considering euthanizing wild horses to deal with the growing population on the range and in holding facilities, authorities said Monday.
Wild horses have overpopulated public lands and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management can't afford to care for the number of mustangs that have been rounded up, said Henri Bisson, the agency's deputy director. Also, fewer people are adopting the horses, he said.
Monday's announcement marks the first time the agency publicly has discussed the possibility of putting surplus animals to death.
The agency is also considering whether to stop roundups of wild horses to save money, a move that would be criticized by and from sheep and cattle ranchers who see the mustangs as competition for feed on the open range.
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“Our goal is supposed to be about healthy horses on healthy ranges. But we are at the point we need to have a conversation with people about pragmatically what can we do given the financial constraints,” Bisson said.