BLM Plan to Round Up of 6,000 Wild Horses from Public Lands Assailed

Cowboys rounding up wild horses.
Cowboys rounding up wild horses. Damian Zech

Newsdate: May 31, 2018, 2:00 pm
Location: DAVIS, California

The American Wild Horse Campaign is harshly criticizing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for its recently posted round up schedule, which reveals agency plans to round up and remove 6,000 wild horses from public lands this summer and fall. AWHC slammed the agency for continuing the same “business as usual practices” that the National Academy of Sciences has called “expensive and unproductive for the BLM and the public it serves.”

Wild horses in BLM holding pen.

Wild horses in BLM holding pen

According to AWHC , BLM's push to reduce wild horse populations to the 'appropriate management level' will leave these wild horse populations at extinction level.
© 2015 by BLM New window.

AWHC said that the agency’s push to reduce horse populations to the “Appropriate” Management Level would leave wild horse populations at extinction level. For example, the BLM manages 23 million acres of public land in Utah but authorizes fewer than 2,000 horses to live in the state. That’s one horse per nearly 12,000 acres of BLM land, or the equivalent of six horses in all of Salt Lake City. In Wyoming, where a 2,670-horse removal is planned for August, the BLM allows a maximum of 3,725 horses, or one horse per 5,000 acres of BLM land in the state.“

"The BLM’s push to round up horses from our public lands to achieve arbitrary and unscientific population limits not only jeopardizes individual horses, but also entire populations of these federally protected animals,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHC. “Meanwhile, the agency continues to ignore scientifically recommended solutions from studies it commissioned, such as for humanely managing wild horses and burros on our public lands."

AWHC noted that all of the horses removed will be warehoused in short-term holding pens – the most expensive type of holding, which costs taxpayers $5 per horse per day. In 2016, the Office of Inspector General found  that the BLM was wasting taxpayer dollars by stockpiling horses in expensive short term holding pens instead of maximizing long-term holding pastures, which are one-third the cost. (In 2017, the BLM spent more to house 10,000 horses in short term holding than it did to house 34,000 horses in long term holding.)

‘The entire BLM mustang roundup effort is giant federal subsidy program for a few wealthy special interest land barons,” Roy concluded. “Our tax dollars are lining the pockets of wealthy ranchers and large livestock companies that profit top to bottom from the system from lucrative helicopter roundup contracts that pay up to $900 per horse captured, to grazing permittees who run more subsidized livestock on public lands where horses are removed, to the livestock companies who get paid millions of dollars to warehouse horses in feedlot pens.

Meanwhile, only 3% of America’s beef comes from this massive welfare subsidy, a subsidy not provided to the 97% of private lands ranchers in the U.S.”, added Roy. She noted that if Congress grants BLM’s request for mustang slaughter, the profit center will shift to the “kill buyers” who stand to make millions from the sale of tens of thousands of captured mustangs and burros for brutal slaughter in Mexico and Canada.

  • In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences found that the BLM’s “business as usual practices” of rounding up and removing horses from the range was “expensive and unproductive” and “facilitating high rates of population growth” on the range. The NAS recommended using fertility control as an alternative to roundups; yet the BLM continues to spend 0 percent of its budget on birth control, while 73 percent of its budget is spent to round up, remove and warehouse or place captured horses and burros.
  • Ranchers who graze livestock on public lands pay $1.41 per animal per month to graze on public lands, while the average fee to graze on private lands is over $20 per animal per month. These ranchers see wild horses as competition for cheap, taxpayer subsidized livestock grazing on public lands and push for their removal, even though….
  • Over 80 percent of BLM land grazed by livestock has no wild horses on it. (Livestock graze on 155 million acres of BLM land; wild horses restricted to fewer than 27 million of those acres.)
  • Approximately 80 percent of available forage in wild horse habitat is allocated to livestock, not wild horses, meaning that livestock still outnumber wild horses on this small amount of public land where wild horse are present.
  • The BLM’s overpopulation claims are based on the agency’s self-imposed population limits (misleadingly called “appropriate” management levels). However, the NAS found that these population limits lack a “science-based rationale” and “are not transparent to stakeholders, supported by scientific information, or amenable to adaptation.”
  • The BLM’s national population limit for wild horses and burros is 18,000 – 26,700. That’s the number of wild horses that existed in 1971 when Congress passed a law to protect them because they were “fast disappearing.”

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EquiMed staff writers team up to provide articles that require periodic updates based on evolving methods of equine healthcare. Compendia articles, core healthcare topics and more are written and updated as a group effort. Our review process includes an important veterinarian review, helping to assure the content is consistent with the latest understanding from a medical professional.

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