Spring & Summer Roundups Endanger Wild Horse Herds

Speak up for America’s dwindling wild horse herds before it’s too late.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning a mass helicopter removal of wild horses living in what’s known as the Wyoming Checkerboard. The BLM is proposing to round up 3,500 wild horses, nearly 40% of wild horses living on 3.4 million acres of habitat in southern Wyoming. The plan would reduce the mustang population to a low Appropriate Management Level (AML) set at 1,550 wild horses which includes 5 federally designated Herd Management Areas (HMAs). These HMAs are known as Adobe Town, Great Divide Basin, Salt Wells Creek, Little Colorado and White Mountain. The BLM also proposes to treat and release 290 wild mares with PZP (a proven, safe form of population control).

However, they also intend to use unproven IUDs which pose a variety of serious (even dangerous) complications. Also being considered as an alternative plan would be to (1) surgically sterilize 100 mares, (2) castrate 100 stallions, (3) treat the remaining released mares with an immunocontraceptive vaccine, and (4) skew the sex ratio of the population to 60% stallions and 40% mares.

The cost to taxpayers for this massive roundup runs in the millions of dollars as these historic wild horses lose their families, freedom, and even their lives. The BLM’s plan is pushed by for-profit, commercial interests, especially the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA). RSGA members graze both cattle and sheep on taxpayer-funded public lands. Over the past ten years, they have averaged more than 8,000 privately-owned cattle grazing in the above listed 5 HMAs.

The RSGA views federally-protected wild horses as competition for cheap forage on the public lands and has demanded their removal for years. Fortunately, wild horse advocates have fought them in court and have multiple wins for the horses against the RSGA which continues its fight against the horses.

Please take time to let the BLM know why this massive roundup and cruel plan is not in the interest of protecting these iconic wild horses. Public comments are due by April 30, 2021 (link listed at the end of talking points).

Examples of Talking Points (Use your own wording please):

  • The wild horses living in the Wyoming Checkerboard are important for ecotourism as they have a positive impact on local tourism as recreational users of these public lands come for wild horse viewing and photography.
  • The BLM’s plan would destroy the wild horse population in the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop area outside of Rock Springs, WY. The scenic loop receives heavy promotion from Sweetwater County as a tourism destination which gives a glimpse of the “pure and untamed West” and proof that “the American spirit still thrives.”
  • The plan calls for the removal of the Wyoming wild horses to a low AML, leaving a mere 1,550 mustangs on over 3.4 million acres of habitat. The AML needs to be re-evaluated to keep a self-sustaining, genetically viable population of wild horses in the Wyoming Checkerboard area.
  • The BLM’s plan proposes alternatives including indiscriminate use of non-permanent fertility control, such as IUDs, once the majority of wild horses have been rounded up and removed. Humane, non-permanent fertility control, like PZP, needs to be prioritized over mass roundups, as noted in past recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences.
  • In alternative IV in the BLM’s Environmental Assessment (EA) it calls for surgical sterilization of 100 mares, castration of 100 stallions, treatment of the remaining released mares with immunocontraception, and to unnaturally skew the sex ratio of the wild horse population to 60% stallions and 40% mares. The BLM’s final EA needs to reject alternative IV, the surgical sterilization option, and instead prioritize humane, fiscally responsible, and proven on-the-range management.
  • PZP has over 30 years of safe, humane, and positive results as a method for population management that the BLM should use in the WY Checkerboard region.
  • IUDs have no proven humane or effective use in wild horse herds and should not be considered as part of this plan.
  • The BLM plan wants the removal of wild horses who have traveled outside of the HMA boundaries. The BLM should make every effort to relocate those horses within the boundary instead of removal.