RENO, Nevada — U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials say they plan to remove only 1,300 wild horses and burros from the range across the West this summer because of budget constraints and overflowing holding pens.
Overall, they intend to remove about 4,800 of the animals from the range during the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30, compared with 8,255 in the last fiscal year. The vast majority of targeted animals will be wild horses.
Nine of the BLM’s 16 summer roundups will be conducted in Nevada, home to roughly half of the estimated 37,000 free-roaming wild horses and burros in the West. The agency plans to remove 855 wild horses and burros in Nevada, 140 in Oregon, 105 in Arizona, 65 in New Mexico, 50 in Colorado and 25 in Idaho.
The BLM made the announcement Friday, about a month after 30 U.S. representatives urged new U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to make reforming the government’s wild horse management program and its spiraling budget a priority.
The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign coalition criticized the BLM’s plans, saying the captured animals will be added to government-funded holding facilities that are already at capacity with 50,000 wild horses and burros.
“The BLM is galloping ahead with rounding up more wild horses, despite the high cost to taxpayers and animals as well as the findings of an independent scientific review, which recommends against continued roundups,” coalition spokeswoman Suzanne Roy said in a statement.
“The agency still has not gotten the message that the removal of wild horses from our Western public lands is inhumane, unsustainable, unscientific, and must come to an end,” she added.
BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said most of the upcoming “gathers” have been scheduled in response to emergency conditions spurred by drought, and by public safety issues related to animals that roam near highways and residential and agricultural areas.
He said the schedule is subject to change because of continuing drought conditions across the West that are resulting in limited water and forage for wildlife, livestock and wild horses and burros.
“BLM managers are monitoring animal and range conditions, reducing livestock grazing, enacting fire restrictions and providing supplemental water in some locations for wild horses,” Gorey said in a statement.
Six roundups in Nevada will use helicopters to guide the animals to pens, while the rest of the operations will use bait and water to trap them in corrals. CONTINUED – Read the rest of the story at The Daily Journal
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