September 16, 2016 12:10 PM

The Bureau of Land Management has decided against euthanizing the 45,000 wild horses and burros it currently has in its custody, after a public outcry protesting the decision.

The BLM announced their decision on Wednesday, saying it would continue to care for the animals it currently has in its custody, rather than slaughter them en masse.

The Humane Society released a statement lauding the decision, though they did include a caveat that the BLM’s current approach is an untenable one:

“The Humane Society of the United States is pleased to see that the BLM is not currently considering sending any of the wild horses and burros in holding facilities to slaughter. However, maintaining the status quo is simply not good enough. The Wild Horse and Burro Program is a sinking ship and it is incumbent that the agency make real changes to ensure that the wild horse and burro program stays afloat.”

A petition against the slaughter by the the conservation group Protect Mustangs, a 501c3 nonprofit organization “dedicated to the protection and preservation of native and wild horses,” garnered over 132,000 signatures this week. Anne Novak, the group’s founder, suggested that water wells could be drilled in herd areas that could still save taxpayers money, and argues that the horses and burros are necessary to the ecological sanctity of the West and a form of natural wildfire prevention. (The animals’ grazing habits prevent dead and dry grass from piling up and forming what are essentially natural tinder piles waiting to be set alight by lightning, stray campfires, etc.)

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