Wild Horse Mismanagement Rages On

Continued roundups and warehousing of wild horses and burros is a failed strategy for managing these icons of the West. The BLM continues to ignore Congressional direction to create a sustainable, humane fertility control program to keep horses on the range.

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) aggressive roundup schedule continues to capture and warehouse wild horses and burros by the thousands into existing and overcrowded holding facilities. Meanwhile, the BLM ignores that lawmakers have appropriated millions of dollars for safe, proven, and humane fertility control as a management tool.

In a joint FY2021 statement, both House and Senate Interior Appropriations Committees stated that “The Committees expect … a robust expansion of fertility control utilizing methods that are proven, safe, effective, and humane.”

During June, the BLM’s roundup schedule showed just over 2,400 mares were to be treated with fertility control this year. By the end of August, that number was cut to treating just over 1,170 wild mares. These numbers are a feeble attempt at “management” especially when the BLM claims that there are about 86,000 wild horses and burros on the range.

Meanwhile, the BLM intends to round up close to 17,000 wild horses and burros this year as they continue to avoid increasing humane fertility control or have in place contingency plans to deal with well-known issues such as range degradation or drought conditions.

Ironically, the BLM manages to fire up quickly to handle increased roundups, yet for decades they’ve refused to create an effective fertility control program. Their “manage to extinction” policy appears to be their true goal.