WASHINGTON (September 12, 2016) – The Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, made up of a wide range of stakeholders, recommended last week significant management changes to address the exploding population of wild horses and the resulting animal welfare catastrophe. Dave Eliason, Public Lands Council president 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.”
Currently, BLM estimates the population of free roaming horses and burros at 67,000 – nearly 40,000 or 150 percent over the appropriate management level and growing at 20 percent per year. Additionally, 45,000 horses and burros remain in long-term storage at a cost to taxpayers of $50,000 per animal. The Advisory Board recommended BLM sell horses for private ownership and euthanize those that cannot be sold.
In June, Nevada State Veterinarian J.J. Goicoechea testified on behalf of PLC before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands and in preparation for the Advisory Board meeting last week, PLC submitted comments for consideration. Both the testimony and comments echoed that without proper management of the wild horse populations, long-term issues for western rangelands, including soil compaction, desertification, and the spread of invasive species are imminent.
“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 strongly encourages the BLM to work to implement the Advisory Board’s recommendation and allow for the sale of wild horses, bringing the population back to ecologically and economically sustainable levels.
Public Lands Council (PLC) has represented livestock ranchers who use public lands since 1968, preserving the natural resources and unique heritage of the West. Ranchers who utilize public lands own nearly 120 million acres of the most productive private land and manage vast areas of public land, accounting for critical wildlife habitat and the nation’s natural resources. PLC works to maintain a stable business environment in which livestock producers can conserve the West and feed the nation and world.