Horses and burros gathered by the BLM are held in holding facilities. A small number of them are adopted to private caretakers. The vast majority remain in these facilities, cared for by the BLM. These facilities currently house over 46,000 horses and burros, costing the American taxpayer nearly $50 million per year.
Counties in Western states including Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado, are contending with out-of-control horse populations, which the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), due to ideologically-driven policies and fear of bad press, has failed to properly manage.
These ‘iconic’ animals are a favored fund-raising mechanism among animal rights groups, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the United States Humane Society, and the BLM’s attempts to control their populations according to federal law, have been met with hysterical outcries and lawsuits. But this disaster is growing in only one direction, and is resulting–and will continue to result–in suffering and starving animals, degraded rangelands, harm to wildlife and plant populations, conflicts with ranchers, farmers and landowners, and economically strapped communities.
It’s time for America to call out the tactics of the ASPCA and the Humane Society, and others like them, and expose the disaster, caused in part, by their ‘save the wild horses’ fund raising efforts. Please review these troubling facts and encourage your leaders to address the wild horse and burro crisis with urgency and soberness.
The horses and burros that roam freely across areas of western North America and along parts of the Atlantic coast are feral animals, and are not native to North America. These animals are descended from domesticated breeds brought to North America from Europe. Yes, they are iconic and beloved by some, but damage crucial wildlife habitat and require improved and sustainable management practices. The population and impact of these horses and burros can be difficult to control, amplifying their effects on native habitat and wildlife. In some cases, current management of horses and burros and their effects diverts resources (human and financial) from management of native species and habitat.
- Wild horses and burros are to be managed according to the Wild and Free-Roaming Horse & Burro Act of 1971, which specifies where wild horses and burros can occupy public lands, and that they shall be managed in a manner that produces a thriving natural ecological balance. In addition, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) are required by law to manage and balance multiple uses of public lands, including wildlife, horses, and cattle grazing.
- Wild horses and burros are managed by federal law, and are only authorized to be on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands.
- BLM estimates their lands contain over 67,000 horses and burros as of May 1, 2016.
- USFS provides a rough estimate of approximately 10,000 horses and burros on their lands.
- Free-roaming horses and burros are also present on other federal, state, and tribal lands – however, these animals are not “wild and free-roaming” as defined in the federal law, and therefore are managed differently. The total number of free-roaming horses in the United States is likely in the hundreds of thousands.
- BLM lands where horses and burros should be managed can only support 27,000 individuals in balance with the ecosystem and other uses of the range. This means there are over 40,000 excess horses and burros, degrading our rangelands.
- Wild horse and burro populations have a demonstrated ability to grow at 18-20% per year. This means their populations double every 4-5 years without proper management actions.
- BLM currently uses a mixture of gathering and fertility control options to manage populations. However, these actions are not currently being used to the extent necessary to stop the growth of the horse and burro population, and our rangelands continue to be deteriorated.
- Horses and burros gathered by the BLM are held in holding facilities. A small number of them are adopted to private caretakers. The vast majority remain in these facilities, cared for by the BLM. These facilities currently house over 46,000 horses and burros, costing the American taxpayer nearly $50 million per year.
- Fertility programs only slow growth of the herds, and do not address the wild horse overpopulation problem.
- Nevada alone has over 40,000 horses on its rangelands.
- The appropriate number of horses for the Pancake Horse Management Area (HMA) in Nevada is 240-493 horses, it’s spring 2016 spring population was 1,800 horses.
- By late summer this same HMA will have over 2,100 horses with foals—a population of 426% of the manageable number.
- Captive wild horses will cost tax payers over $1 billion cumulatively by 2030 if BLM maintains its current management practices.
- The estimated cost of lost opportunity to rural counties is $1,900 per horse per year.
- If BLM maintains current management practices the number of wild horses in Colorado will double to 150,000 in 4 years, and double again to 300,000 in another four years.
- Failed federal management of wild horse and burro populations have devastated state and private lands leading to:
- Decreased crop yields
- Increase in invasive weeds and grasses
- Devaluation in land values
- The BLM breaks federal law by failing to act in accordance to existing legislation governing wild horse and burro populations.
- § 1333(b)(2) REMOVAL OF EXCESS ANIMALS instructs: “When overpopulation exists and action is necessary to remove excess animals, then Secretary shall immediately remove wild horses and burros”—THE BLM ALLOWS MANY TO ROAM FREELY ON RANGELANDS
- “Old, sick or lame animals to be destroyed in the most humane manner possible.” Under pressure from animal rights groups, BLM rarely euthanizes animals, even those in extremely poor condition.
- “Any additional excess wild horses and burros to be humanely captured and removed for private maintenance” The BLM keeps the animals in holding facilities and the animals are sold or adopted only thorough a cumbersome process with very strict limitations.
19. Legally, wild horses and burros more than ten years can be sold without limitation, but hysteria over the commercial sale and slaughter of horses has impeded and often stopped this process.
Free Range Report