Recommendations on Wild Horse & Burro Management

SOURCE:  Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Wild Horse Freedom Federation would like to thank the many organizations and individuals who joined us in signing a letter for Recommendations on Wild Horse & Burro Management that was sent to members of the Senate and House of Representatives. Please feel free to copy the letter below and send it to your Congressional representatives.

Recommendations on Wild Horse & Burro Management

The undersigned groups and individuals consist of a unified major segment of those advocating for the welfare of wild horses & burros and for healthy public lands. We strongly oppose any plans to “euthanize,” kill or sterilize America’s wild horses & burros. The purpose of this letter is to address some frequently discussed issues, and to offer our recommendations on the management of America’s wild horses & burros.

Costs of wild horses & burros in BLM off range facilities

There is evidence that the number of horses & burros that the BLM claims are in the off-range holding facilities are not there. Using the BLM’s own records, obtained by FOIA, on the BLM’s reported numbers of wild horses in off-range holding facilities and comparing it to our evidence, we prove that more than half of the horses that BLM and their contractors claim are on many of the off-range pasture facilities are, in fact, not there. We have video, photographs and other evidence regarding this.

The BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program record keeping is also seriously flawed.

The cost of caring for wild horses & burros pales in comparison to the money that taxpayers lose on the BLM’s livestock grazing program: $125 million each year ($1 billion each decade).

Regarding an “excess” or “overpopulation” of wild horses & burros on public lands

The BLM’s population estimates remain wildly inaccurate. We’ve provided a review of 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 absurd.

One independent report based on the raw data (received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request) from BLM flyovers while doing an aerial population survey over Twin Peaks HMA in 2013, showed the BLM was only able to document seeing 468 wild horses & burros, but issued a final written count of 1,750.

There is no scientific proof that there is an “excess” or “overpopulation” of wild horses & burros. Most BLM Land Use Plans, including Resource Management Plans and Environmental Assessments, do not even allow for numbers that are high enough to maintain a minimum viable herd number in their “Appropriate Management Level” (AML).

Dr. E. Gus Cothran, an equine geneticist used by the BLM for decades, has consistently stated that wild horse and burro herds need a minimum of 150-200 members, with at least 150 breeding age adult animals, to sustain genetic diversity in the herd and maintain a viable population.

Regarding wild horses & burros dying of starvation and dehydration

There is current documentation from many Herd Management Areas that the remaining wild horses & burros are healthy and in good shape.

However, other uses on most Herd Management Areas, including livestock grazing, mining and oil and gas, far outweigh the “use” by wild horses & burros. Even if livestock grazing is “not year round,” the BLM only counts livestock as one animal for a cow/calf pair, so both the numbers of privately owned livestock on public lands and the use of the resources, are far greater than most Americans realize.

The BLM does not use scientific methods to discern what damage on public lands is caused by livestock, but is being blamed on wild horses & burros. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) wrote a report titled BLM Weighs Wild Horse Impact Much More Heavily Than Cattle.” It can be read here:

As a matter of fact, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) filed a federal lawsuit this year, because after 27 years of pledges to reform, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has yet to take even the most basic steps to stem illegal livestock grazing. Vast stretches of public rangeland continue to degrade because BLM does little to detect or deter unauthorized livestock grazing.

Our recommendations for the management of wild horses & burros are:

    • Do not “euthanize,” kill or sterilize America’s wild horses & burros
    • Reintroduce the wild horses & burros that are now in BLM off range facilities back to their historic ranges, where they can graze for free. When Congress enacted the Wild Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act of 1971 (16 U.S.C. §§ 1331–1340), the wild horses & burros were to be protected in their historic herd areas. In 1971, wild horses & burros occupied 53.8 million acres managed by the BLM, but the BLM now only allows wild horses & burros on half that original range area: on only 26.9 million acres. We recommend the reintroduction of wild horses & burros that are in BLM off range facilities back to their historic herd areas, and that the BLM use on-the-range management.
    • Revise and amend all BLM and Forest Service Land Use Plans, including Resource Management Plans and Environmental Assessments, to allow for wild horse & burro numbers that are high enough to maintain a viable herd in their “Appropriate Management Level” (AML), which would be a minimum of 150-200 animals, with at least 150 breeding age adult animals.


4 comments on “Recommendations on Wild Horse & Burro Management

    • Hmm. I included a link (above) which was evidently removed for whatever reason. I remain hopeful and support all these efforts will engage the attention of our elected officials enough that they may vote in the public interest to save our remaining wild horses and burros.


      • Icy, our recommendation contained Dr. Gus Cothran’s recommendation that if BLM uses any fertility control at all, they should make sure for each herd, the numbers are set higher than the minimum needed for viability. Also, we asked for aerial census flights to use go pro cameras in hopes that BLM population estimates will be more realistic.


  1. Speak your mind and your heart.

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