BLM Wild Horse Management Controversy

Wild horse roundups are something that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does regularly and this year it was a disaster.

Karen (one of my subscribers) wrote in asking my opinion about the horse round ups–and I have to say that like most government management efforts—things have to change.

Where I live, the Bureau of Land Management rounds up the burros from public land and puts them up for adoption.

Like most other federal management agencies, it is a reactionary form of management and one that is archaic and fraught with poor management and planning.

In the news, critics have spouted that roundups are the first choice in managing the wild equine populations.

I’ve also read that there more wild horses now exist in captivity (they have an adoption program) than on the millions of public acres that should support them–and something is seriously wrong with that.

What most people don’t know is that a lot of land is rented out for grazing cattle and other uses.

If the land is sustaining a wild population of horses it means that they are probably doing okay–but they do compete with grazing cattle and a lot of folks don’t like that.

In early February, news teams in Las Vegas, Nevada had this to say:

The Black Rock Desert and surrounding range is stark and beautiful, but not what you would call a garden spot. But it is just fine for wild horses and is one of the last remaining mustang strongholds in the nation — at least it was.

The BLM determined that 3,000 horses spread across more than half a million acres were simply too many, so they set out in December to gather them up.

The problem was that there were not that many horses and the estimates actually were about half of what was reported.

This might not sound to bad until you learn that the agency relies on estimates instead of looking at population levels based on actual range land data.

They used projections made from years ago.

Now a wild population of animals is usually a good thing.

It shows that the terrain is healthy and that it sustains life but one of the ways that the BLM makes money is by leasing out the land for grazing.

Just two years ago (2008) the agency approved a 300 percent increase in the allocation numbers of cattle in the same area the mustangs lived.


So basically, they are removing horses because there are too many damaging the terrain.

Uh, anyone see anything weird here?

The Bureau of Land Management continues to allow cattle grazing but removes the horses?

Attorney Valerie Stanley has made it her mission to fight the BLM roundup by taking them to federal court and is going to be a visible force in fighting planned roundups since she is dedicating her practice to the cause.

The 2010 roundup of the wild horses at Calico went on record as being one of the deadliest in the history of the wild horse program.

Of the animals captured, at least 49 Calico horses have perished along with another 30 or so in utero foals.

Since 2000, it is estimated that the agency has removed over 74,000 wild horses and burros from the range and will remove another 12,000 horses this year alone.

Maintaining those horses in captive environments is an estimated about 3/4 of the total Bureau of Land Management’s budget for wild horse and burro management.

Beyond the humane management issue, the wild horse round up will cost the taxpayers close to $2,000,000.00.

But here is the insanity, just last year (2009) the BLM wanted to destroy more than 33,000 wild horses housed in captive conditions because funds were not available to feed and maintain them.

The agency has so many animals that it can’t afford them.

The proposed solution? Euthanize them or sell them off for slaughter.

Bad, bad ideas.

New management is needed and public input is critical.

The BLM has posted some responses on the Calico wild horse roundup and public comments on the new federal management policy for wild horses was just closed earlier this week.

This Wild Horse & Burro Strategy Development Document will be submitted to congress this fall so be sure to contact your representative.

Wild Horse Preservation & Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Round Up Links of Interest

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