By Debbie Coffey and Carol Walker
The BLM has submitted a report to Congress “Management Options for a Sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program” with recommendations on managing the wild horses and burros on our public lands as well as the 46,000 held in short and long term holding facilities.
Some of the suggestions include killing (misidentified as “euthanasia”) 10,000 wild horses and burros, massive roundups of 50,000 wild horses and burros currently on our public lands, then sterilizing 80% of the wild horses and burros that remain, and removing limitations on sale of these wild horses and burros, which exposes them to the risk of sale to slaughter. The options offered in this report would not lead to sustainability, but to the extinction of wild horses and burros on public lands, likely within the next generation or two.
The BLM is asking Congress for permission to proceed with these extreme measures, and yet the basis for this plan is rooted in false claims.
“Since receiving federal protection in 1971, wild horse and burro populations on public lands have dramatically increased, far exceeding what is healthy for the land and the animals.”
The BLM’s population estimates remain wildly inaccurate. Wild Horse Freedom Federation prepared a White Paper in 2017, that provided a review of the BLM’s own statistics where, according to the BLM, some herds of horses have increased by as much as 750% to 1,250% in only one year. This is biologically impossible and scientifically indefensible.
The BLM claims “The current overpopulation of wild horses and burros threatens the overall health of the western rangelands, degrading ecosystem function and limiting forage and water available for domestic and wildlife species, including game and nongame species.”
Privately owned livestock vastly outnumber wild horses and burros on public lands. Blaming wild horses and burros for all of the range degradation on our public lands and scapegoating them for loss of sage grouse habitat is at very least without any scientific basis. According to Western Watersheds Project, a conservation non-profit: “Public lands ranching is the most widespread commercial use of public lands in the United States. Ranching is one of the primary causes of native species endangerment in the American West; it is also the most significant cause of non-point source water pollution and desertification.”