Last week, 21 members of Congress submitted a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing concerns over the methods of and money spent on wild horse roundups throughout several Western states. The letter, which can be read at, was organized by Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Ed Whitefield, R-Ky., who have requested a response from Salazar in 10 days. In November, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign sent a petition with more than 25,000 signatures to the DOI but received no response.

“This issue is especially timely because evidence of abusive treatment of mustangs in federal roundups continues to emerge, recently prompting a federal court judge in Nevada to place restrictions on [Bureau of Land Management] staff with regard to handling practices that include routine electroshocking of captured horses,” the letter states. “The BLM must be more forthcoming with its proposals to modernize the wild horse and burro program. It must also develop a long-term strategy that reflects balanced interests of America’s wild horses and burros and the unique legacy of our public lands. We believe the agenda for this conversation should include: The effectiveness of roundups as the primary method of managing wild horse and burro populations on public lands—especially when looked at in conjunction with the long-term sustainability and cost of this program; evidence of cruel treatment of wild horses during and after roundups; [and] humane and cost-effective options for on-the-range management of wild horses as an alternative to roundups and removals.”

The letter also references a ProPublica report published last fall, which highlighted claims that wild horses were being sold to slaughter or living in unsavory conditions after roundups.