The US Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected a proposal to classify the North American wild horse as an endangered or threatened species, according to a docket on the agency’s website.
The Cloud Foundation and the Friends of Animals filed a petition last year in support of including the horses in the Act of Endangered Species, arguing that almost 40,000 of the horses belonging to the generation of North American stallions will disappear from the federal lands located in ten American states.
The stallions, according to the petition, are facing a decrease in their natural habitat of almost 40%, due to the the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, which was intended to protect wild horses.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the proposal, on the grounds that a horse is a horse.
“Although behaviors between domestic and wild animals of the same species may differ … the petition does not present substantial information that the North American wild horse may be separate from other populations of horse as consequence of behavioral differences”, the agency said.
Bureau of Land Management’s website stated that American wild horses descended from domestic horses. Some of these were brought by European explorers in the late 15th and 16th centuries.
Jennifer Barnes, a lawyer for Friends of Animals, said in a statement that the group is disappointed with the agency’s decision:
“These horses are different, they are treated different under the law, they behave differently and there’s some evidence they are genetically different,” said Barnes.