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Slaughter of starving wild horses divides the Netherlands

A spokesman for the state forestry service said the animals are treated as wild and aren’t fed or treated medically to keep the population from growing beyond what the land can support.

LINDA GIVETASH: ‘The slaughter of thousands of starving animals on a man-made nature reserve has triggered fierce debate about whether it should be regarded as a national treasure or an experiment gone wrong. More than half of the wild horses, cattle and red deer on the 14,800-acre Oostvaardersplassen didn’t survive the winter. Animals within its perimeter must fend for themselves. However, any creatures believed to be suffering are shot by rangers at the site.

Harsh winter weather left piles of dead horses littered around the site. Most of the remains were later removed, but the ghoulish sight of hungry animals just under an hour’s drive from Amsterdam led some protesters to cut down fences to free them. Others threw food to the visibly weak animals. Oostvaardersplassen is now at the center of a lawsuit that aims to prevent a repeat of the carnage in the months to come by allowing more human intervention on the untouched land and relocating animals to other sites.

“I’ve never seen such skinny horses,” recalled Cynthia Danvers, who filed the lawsuit along with her friend and fellow equestrian Annemieke van Straatenafter after visiting in February. “We saw so many dead animals. … It was unbelievable”… Joke Bijl, a spokesman for the state forestry service Staatsbosbeheer, said the animals are treated as wild and aren’t fed or treated medically to keep the population from growing beyond what the land can support’. SOURCE…

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