S1 E5: Suzanne Roy: Protecting America’s Wild Horses Part 2
Suzanne Roy is the Executive Director of the American Wild Horse Campaign. an organization that has been fighting for years to save America's wild horses. If you didn’t know that our wild horses needed saving, or even that we had any wild horses, here is some back story:
We do, we have 30,000 of them. They roam freely in 10 western states. They need saving because they are threatened, pretty much single day of their lives by our government. The BLM, the Bureau of Land Management, doesn’t like these horses and they would much rather lease that land to ranchers for cattle. They already do lease most of it for cattle. It's 50 to 1, so for every 50 cows on public lands in those states, there's one horse, but that's still too many for the BLM. And so, they organize roundups, which means they go after these horses with low-flying helicopters and chase them, sometimes for over 20 miles. The horses run at full speed, breaking legs, falling down, some die, mothers get separated from foals, they’re terrorized and terrified, and then rounded up, loaded onto trucks and put in government holding like prisoners.
Until I met Suzanne I didn’t know big this fight was. It’s huge, and it’s really complex and there are many smaller battles that happen within it constantly. The crazy part is, well there are a lot of crazy parts to this story, but one of them is that when polled, the American public wants these horses free. 75% of the USA says keep them free. Between the helicopters and the holding, there are millions of dollars spent on getting rid of these horses.
The rounded up horses live the rest of their lives either in government holding or in some sort of captivity, or they end up in the slaughter pipeline, which means they end up going to slaughter houses in Canada or Mexico.
These horses were supposed to be protected. In 1971, Nixon signed a law called The Wild Free and Roaming Horses and Burro Act. The law states that the BLM is supposed to manage these herds, but no management has happening at all. Instead, it's inhumane, it's unsustainable, and it makes no financial sense whatsoever.
Right now, we have 30,000 horses on public lands, and 50,000 in government holding. Most of them will never leave. Very few of them are adopted and the rest of them stay in holding or end up on their way to Canada or Mexico, and there’s just no reason for any of this.
There's a birth control vaccine called PZP, which is a perfect solution to the entire issue. It’s used in wildlife populations all the time. The horses would get darted once a year and they would not get pregnant, but the BLM would rather spend the money on helicopters and government holding. PZP costs $30 a year per horse.
Because this is such an enormous issue and it's happening right in our backyard, and because we can actually do something about this, we've decided to make this a two-part series. The first part was with American Wild Horse Campaign President, Ellie Phipps Price.
Suzanne Roy is a hero in the animal rights movement. She has been fighting for the plights animals since the '90s, including chimps, elephants, marine mammals, and for the past nine years, America’s wild horses.
Even after decades of showing up and fighting for so many animals in terrible situations and seeing the horrible lives that so many of them have to endure, Suzanne has not lost her resilience, her determination, nor her hopefulness. She's a joy to be around, she inspires, and she also tells a really great story.