Biden Administration Continues Unscientific, Inhumane Wild Horse & Burro Roundup Program

Small herd of wild horses with foal on open land.
Small herd of wild horses with foal on open land. Mitch Barrie

Newsdate: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 - 11:00 am

The Biden budget continues Trump administrations policy of scapegoating wild horses for environmental damage caused by livestock. The budget is calling for an astounding $35 million increase for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Mares and foals being chased by a BLM roundup helicopter.

Mares and foals being chased by a BLM roundup helicopter

Livestock outnumber wild horses and burros on BLM land; of the 155 million acres grazed by private livestock, only 27 million are shared with federally-protected wild horses and burros.
© 2018 by AWHC New window.

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), criticized the administration’s proposal to continue the Trump roundup plan to remove 90,000 wild horses and burros from public lands over the next five years at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $1 billion.

It’s inexplicable that the Biden Administration, which professes a commitment to science, would choose to pursue the Trump Administration’s unscientific, fiscally reckless, and inhumane mass roundup plan that is leading to the slaughter of America’s cherished wild horses and burros,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the AWHC, noting a recent New York Times report exposing a BLM adoption program as a pipeline to slaughter for these federally-protected animals.

According to AWHC, as a member of Congress, Interior Secretary Haaland opposed additional funding for wild horse and burro roundups, advocating instead for humane birth control, but her budget reflects a prioritization of livestock industry interests over protection of wild horses and burros. Polls show 80 percent of Americans support protecting wild horses and burros and oppose slaughtering them.

“Fundamentally this is about this Administration’s failure to address livestock grazing as the cause of damage to native habitats and wildlife and a major source of public land contributions to climate change. Wild horses and burros are just the scapegoats,” Roy continued, pointing to a recently adopted Sierra Club policy, stating:

“In Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management Areas and Territories, and any other federal public lands designated for wild horse and burro use, livestock should be eliminated to avoid overgrazing and degradation of wildlife habitat, riparian areas and water quality... [L]ivestock grazing often causes significant impacts to native habitats and wildlife [and] reducing livestock grazing levels is an important priority across federal lands overall to protect and restore the natural ecosystems to support the native wildlife resources.”

Livestock significantly outnumber wild horses and burros on BLM land. Of the 155 million acres grazed by private livestock, only 27 million are shared with federally-protected wild horses and burros. Yet even on the 27 million acres of wild horse and burro habitat, the BLM allocates 3 out of every 4 units of forage to livestock. Of note, the BLM’s arbitrarily low population limits for wild horses and burros (AML) are not based on science or transparency, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

“The Biden Administration cannot live up to its commitment to science and environmental protection by funding more wild horse roundups while turning a blind eye to the destructive impacts of commercial livestock grazing,” said Holly Gann Bice, AWHC’s Director of Government Relations. “The agency should instead adopt humane, scientifically-based, on-range wild horse and burro management strategies, including fertility control, and reduce livestock grazing within designated wild horse and burro habitat.”

AWHC is urging the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to adopt Interior Appropriations language that has been proposed by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and over 40 other Members of Congress to urge the agency to prioritize humane management using fertility control and other on-range methods.

The American Wild Horse Campaign is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for protection and preservation of America’s wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.

Press release by Grace Kuhn

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