Spending Bill Addresses Wild Horse & Burro Issues

Plans for massive roundups over the next few years to gut many herd populations have caused widespread controversy among wild horse advocates.

Congress recently released the Fiscal Year 2020 spending package that includes $21 million allocated for a wild horse management strategy which includes the use of proven, safe and humane fertility control.

Congressional funding would be allocated specifically for the use of long-proven fertility control vaccines such as PZP, to slow down wild horse and burro population growth.

While Congress has made a clear intention as to the use of the additional allocation funding, unfortunately, the BLM is still able to conduct research protocols that could include surgical sterilization.

Wild horse advocates and members of the public must stand firmly against any dangerous plans for untested, cruel surgical procedures on wild horses, both mares and stallions.

Language in the bill also continues a prohibition against the BLM euthanizing healthy wild horses or selling them without restriction (to slaughter). Thanks to pressure on elected officials, the bill includes the same prohibitions against the U.S. Forest Service.

The bill’s language also mandates that:

  • removals must be conducted in strict compliance with BLM’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program (CAWP) which is a set of humane handling standards;
  • horses are relocated from high-cost corrals to lower-cost, off-range pastures;
  • and that BLM work with stakeholders to increase adoptions;

It should be noted that the additional funding will not be available to the Bureau of Land Management until 60 days after the agency submits a “comprehensive and detailed plan for an aggressive, non-lethal population control strategy” to Congress.

While this information may be a small step in a better management strategy for wild horses and burros, there are many issues far from settled to protect them on the public lands.