Wild Horse Provisions in Federal Budget

Wyoming wild horses lose their freedom as unnecessary and brutal roundups continue when numerous humane alternatives exist. Photo credit: Meg Frederick

On June 29, the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Committee repeated the need for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to make use of safe, proven, and humane fertility control as a way to keep wild horses (and burros) on the range.

The Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2023 bill that allocates $156 million for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Funding includes using up to $11 million to research reversible immunocontraceptive fertility control and how to provide it.

While important, in reality, $11 million is a fraction of what is needed to develop a successful fertility control program so that it can actually allow for reductions in roundups and the warehousing of wild horses and burros.

The bill also includes wording that “directs the Bureau to develop plans that ensure they can administer fertility control, conduct targeted removals from the most heavily and impacted population areas, expand long-term off-range holding and any alternatives, and increase adoptions. To better accomplish these goals, the Bureau should establish public/private partnerships, including working with veterans and wild horse organizations, to implement a robust immunocontraceptive fertility control program.”

It’s been shown that removing horses and not managing the reproduction of the horses remaining on those ranges actually increases reproduction and the use of repeated removals within five years.