Wild Horse Woes Begin Again

The Bureau of Land Management just released another disastrous plan to manage America’s treasured wild horses and burros.

Just this week the BLM released their latest agenda to destroy America’s wild horse and burro herds by decimating their populations on our Western taxpayer funded public lands. The agency failed to include the many humane and politically viable management choices requested by Congress. Instead they produced an outrageous plan which ignores massive public support for the horses, recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report which BLM itself had commissioned as well as a Unified Statement with humane and common sense recommendations supported by over 100 equine welfare and advocacy organizations.

The plan would cut wild horse and burro populations to an AML of 27,000, the number that existed in 1971 when Congress unanimously passed protections for wild horses and burros because they were “fast disappearing.” The unscientific AMLs listed are pathetically low in most Western states. For example in New Mexico, the BLM wants an AML of just 83 horses when the state has more than 14 million acres of BLM-managed public land.

The NAS report even stated the BLM’s AML levels are “not transparent to stakeholders, supported by scientific information, or amenable to adaptation with new information and environmental and social change.”

To achieve their manage-to-extinction goal, the BLM has proposed a variety of cruel, unscientific and completely unacceptable methods including:

Removing more than 50,000 wild horses and burros from the range;
The mass killing or sale for slaughter of up to 100,000 mustangs and burros, including those currently in holding facilities and those to be removed from the public lands;
Mass sterilization of wild horses and burros left on the range — an option previously rejected by the NAS due to suggested dangerous sterilization methods.
BLM’s decades long mismanagement of the Wild Horse and Burro program led to their budget problems in the first place. Yet they continue proposing more abusive plans, including mass roundups and slaughter to hide years of incompetence while catering to powerful and wealthy special interests which are against the wild horses and burros.

Legislation-wise nothing new should happen until October 2018 when the FY2019 federal budget could be voted on. In the meantime, the BLM continues to promote their “overpopulation” and “dire situation” propaganda to lawmakers. Lawmakers need to be educated now that cries of overpopulation are wrong when speaking about wild horses and burros. Livestock dominate and destroy our public lands outnumbering horses at times by 50:1. Many wild horse herds are not large enough to be considered genetically viable.

Estimates of up to 75,000 wild horses and burros on public lands are nothing compared to the millions of head of private (and corporate) livestock damaging and overgrazing our public lands.

It should be noted that wild horses and burros in holding cost about $50 million annually while livestock grazing on public lands costs taxpayers $144 million with a net loss of at least $123 million per year according to the Government Accountability Office.