The U.S. Bureau of Land Management agreed in court Wednesday to tighten the reins on its wild horse adoption program, which has allowed thousands of federally protected animals to go to slaughter.
The agreement settles a lawsuit filed in June by the Fund for Animals and the Animal Protection Institute of America after an investigation by The Associated Press found abuses in the $16 million-a-year program.
“We feel like we’ve satisfactorily resolved all of the issues that we brought forward in a way that’s really going to make a difference for the horses and the adoption program in the future,” said Howard Crystal, a Fund for Animals lawyer in Washington.
He said the settlement will not end the slaughter of wild horses but should reduce the number killed each year.
“The settlement is about whether people can take title to animals with the intent to sell them for slaughter. That’s been the major loophole for years,” he said.
The BLM manages about 42,000 wild horses and burros on public lands in 10 Western states. During the past 25 years, more than 175,000 of the animals were rounded up and placed with adopters for about $125 each.