The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to eliminate three wild horse Herd Management Areas (HMAs) in southwest Wyoming while gutting the population of a fourth herd.
The BLM is using an agreement with ranchers as its excuse for this drastic action.
Under the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, wild horses are federally protected on our public lands. They should not be removed because of private landowner pressure.
The BLM’s plan would do the following:
- Remove just under 2 million acres from wild horse use by changing the Salt Wells and Great Divide HMAs to a status as inactive Herd Areas (HAs) which are not managed for horses;
- Manage the herd located on the over 39,000 acres White Mountain HMA as non-reproducing, which effectively zeroes it out. The BLM would consider using population management tools that are dangerous, inhumane, unproven, costly (e.g., surgical sterilization of mares), ineffective (sex-ratio skewing) or gelding stallions which have unknown consequences on herds; and
- Cut its population goal for the 478,000-acre Adobe Town HMA from approximately 610-800 wild horses down to 225-450.
The BLM has already begun the process to achieve this unprecedented plan. Last October, they spent over $1 million to capture and remove over 3,500 wild horses from southwest Wyoming over a 3-month helicopter roundup with horses injured and 37 dead as a result.
The BLM has stated it’s amending a Resource Management Plan (RMP) to be in compliance with a consent decree from 2013 which the BLM entered into with Wyoming’s Rock Springs Grazing Association.
That association had sued for the removal of all of the wild horses from the Checkerboard region covering 2 million acres. The Checkerboard is an unfenced area of alternating, one-mile square blocks of public and private land set up in the 1860s as part of negotiations with the Union Pacific railroad.
The BLM’s reason for its planned changes is that creating a barrier between public and private lands is “difficult”. The BLM needs to stop throwing up its hands and find a way to humanely manage the horses on taxpayer-funded land allocated for the wild horses by the 1971 Act.