The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released its 2023 Wild Horse and Burro Program gather schedule along with population data. Details are very concerning as it reveals the usual “manage to extinction” policy.
The BLM is in charge of managing a majority of wild horse herds located out West. Its plan includes rounding up over 7,000 wild horses and burros with a permanent removal of over 5,800 from taxpayer funded federal lands starting in July.
This schedule shows a change from the BLM’s proposed plans to remove 20,000 wild horses and burros each year over the next several years. Currently, the BLM doesn’t have enough funds to go forward with that plan. Estimates show there are now over 61,000 wild horses and burros in captivity at holding facilities (short- and long-term).
By giving in to private and special interests, the BLM has removed thousands more wild horses than it could possibly put into private care.
The BLM’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) wild horse and burro population data suggests a small increase in on-the-range population numbers; however, the BLM’s estimate is questionable when taking into account the large-scale removals in 2022 and mortality rates increased due to an historically harsh winter out West.
If they are reporting an actual increase, even a slight one, the BLM’s unnecessary wild horse roundups show a failure to create even short-term progress to achieve its population goals. Instead, a long-term fiscal crisis has resulted from the removal of more than 20,000 wild horses and burros, pushing short- and long-term holding to beyond capacity.
Last December, the U.S. Congress included a bipartisan wild horse protection measure in the FY23 appropriations omnibus. The measure requires the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program to make use of up to $11 million for reversible immunocontraceptive fertility control during FY23 in order to sustainably manage wild horses and burros on the range.
However, the BLM plans to implement fertility control on only just over 1,500 animals. Reports indicate the BLM spent over $100 million taxpayer dollars in 2022 to round up wild horses and burros from Western public lands with captured ones being warehoused in holding facilities. Only a small portion of their budget was spent on humane fertility control to manage herds on the range.