Wild horse advocates assembled outside Central Wyoming College’s student center building to protest the Bureau of Land Management’s treatment of and plans for wild horses across the West.

“There is no overpopulation of wild horses, we’ve gone from over two million wild horses to just 30,000 in the wild,” Respect 4 Horses’ Simone Netherlands said. Netherlands attends all of the bureau’s Advisory Board meetings on wild horses.

Netherlands said that 50,000 wild horses and burros are in holding facilities. She also said that the horses in the wild have less than 26 million acres on which they are allowed to live, while cattle are allowed on 160 million acres.

Netherlands argues that their job should be to protect wild horses, not “do pest control for cattle ranchers.” She said it’s because the horse don’t make anybody money.

Marjorie Farabee, with the Wild Horse Freedom Federation, said the bureau is also collecting the older horses, which damages herds due to the loss of knowledge of good water and shade areas.

“Every wild horse we have today is a survivor of two centuries of persecution by ranchers and our government,” Netherlands said. “It’s a very sad and scary state of affairs, that just like the rainforest of the Amazon, our own government is exploiting and using up our public lands for the benefit of profit driven businesses. It’s time someone steps up and fixes this very, very broken program. It is unsustainable, unscientific, inhumane and a despicable waste of our taxpayer dollars.”

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead urged the bureau “to take immediate action” and “remove excess horses from its herd management areas” in the state.