Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva voted in favor of the Restore Our American Mustangs Act (ROAM), H.R. 1018, a bill that will ensure wild horses and burros continue to have a place to roam on our public lands. Rep. Grijalva and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va) were the bill’s original sponsors.
The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a 239-185 vote.
The ROAM Act would bar the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from euthanizing tens of thousands of healthy wild horses. According to reports by the Government Accountability Office, the BLM’s wild horse and burro program is terribly inefficient and ineffective, yet the BLM’s so-called solution to this inefficiency is to simply put the animals in its care to death.
“These animals are a symbol of the American West and this bill aims to ensure that they will remain an iconic part of our national landscape,” said Grijalva. “A better solution includes more options and more rigorous management – and the ROAM Act will provide both. It includes reasonable tools such as the use of fertility control, the establishment of sanctuaries, and a much more robust adoption program, all leading to a more humane and constructive scheme.”
For more than 30 years, wild horses and burros had been protected from commercial sale and slaughter under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. These longstanding protections, however, were removed under the previous, Republican congressional majority, paving the way for BLM to consider slaughtering as many as 30,000 wild mustangs that the agency can no longer afford to house in holding facilities. These wild mustangs are in holding facilities because the BLM claims that the land could no longer sustain the growth of their herds, a claim disputed by some.
Congressman Grijalva’s bill will step up fertility control measures, encourage more adoptions of the animals and provide up to 19 million additional acres on which more than 60,000 wild horses and burros, under federal control, could roam freely. It also allows federal officials to take actions that will help preserve the health of the entire ecosystem.
Perhaps most significant, the bill provides a definition for the term “thriving natural ecological balance”, which appears in the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, but is not defined. The definition makes clear that management of horses and burros should seek to achieve balanced, multiple-use of public lands, insuring the health of all aspects of the range.
The bill must now go to the Senate for consideration.