Division in Washington over dealing with wild horse overpopulation

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Wild horses are causing problems. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to make changes to federal programs that maintain wild horse populations across the U.S.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) says he will take a serious look at the option of euthanasia for wild horses.

“This program cannot continue to grow in cost with no end in sight and no management being applied,” said Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV).

The Republican says the animals, a staple of the West, are draining resources. He says their rapidly increasing population isn’t fair to other species, and costs taxpayers millions.

“Funding to feed the animals that are in long-term holding pastures in the Midwest, which is about 60,000 animals,” said Amodei.

Amodei says he wants solutions to the overpopulation. He says he doesn't want the horses killed, and claims no one in the House of Representatives does. But, he says, euthanasia for unadoptable horses is on the table.

“I’m going to look real serious at it. I mean, I want to know how you define euthanasia. But guess what? I’m not going back and looking at anybody in the eye and saying, ‘We’re not doing anything, but we’re very aware,’” said Amodei.

He says the preferred option for lowering the population is birth control. Wayne Pacelle, CEO and President of The Humane Society of the United States, says this practice should have been in use a long time ago.

“It can work. I’ve been out there on the range, been involved in contracepting horses. Volunteers can work with the (Bureau of Land Management) and do this work efficiently,” said Pacelle.

Pacelle says the budget for the BLM is drained by rounding up horses and feeding them. But he says euthanasia or slaughtering won't solve the funding issue and is a non-starter with the American public.

“Anyone who cares about horses realizes that’s not the way to go. The way we must proceed is with a humane population management strategy and we’ve got it right in front of us,” said Pacelle.

Lawmakers will make decisions on the program later this year.