The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board has recommended that significant management changes be made to address the exploding population of wild horses, and the animal welfare catastrophe that has resulting from the population increase.
Dave Eliason, president of the Public Lands Council (PLC), said this is a step in the right direction.
“As a stakeholder group that both cares for animals professionally and works the very rangelands currently being degraded by this growing problem, we are glad to see the Advisory Board take heed of this epidemic and recommend plausible management changes,” said Eliason. “Watching these horses starve to death or die of dehydration because the population has exceeded what the range can hold is simply unacceptable. The Department of Interior must bring these populations back to a sustainable and responsible level.”
BLM estimates that the population of free roaming horses and burros currently sits at 67,000, nearly 40,000 over the appropriate management level, and estimates that the population is growing at a rate of 20 percent per year.
45,000 horses and burros also are currently housed in long-term storage at a cost to taxpayers of $50,000 per animal. The Advisory Board has recommended that BLM sell horses for private ownership and euthanize those that cannot be sold.
Nevada State Veterinarian J.J. Goicoechea testified in June on behalf of PLC before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands. In preparation for the Advisory Board meeting last week, PLC also submitted comments for consideration. The testimony and comments both pressed that long-term issues for western rangelands, including soil compaction, desertification, and the spread of invasive species are imminent without proper management of the wild horse populations,
“The current situation is deplorable,” said Eliason. “The lack of management is bad for the range, bad for the local communities impacted, and disastrous for the horses.”
PLC has strongly encouraged the BLM to work to implement the Advisory Board’s recommendation and allow for the sale of wild horses to bring the population back to ecologically and economically sustainable levels.