Horse News

Skewed Advisory Board for Wild Horses & Burros meets to discuss how to manage herds into EXTINCTION

Unedited Press Release (Less Headline)

The Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro National Advisory Board is meeting in Washington this week.

The Wild Horse and Burro National Advisory Board met in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. | Source: Gray D.C.

Board Chairman Fred Woehl says there are 90,000 wild horses and donkeys on federal lands. Woehl said that’s three times more than the areas can handle.

BLM says horses are running out of grass to eat and water to drink on many public lands. Woehl says the Board will continue to encourage the government to use a combination of solutions to keep the numbers down. That includes fertility treatments, spaying, neutering and physically gathering horses into holding facilities.

“I want every tool used that we have in the toolbox. I don’t want BLM limited to just one,” said Woehl.

“Up to now, the only tool that BLM had was gathers, and they could only do emergency gathers,” he said.

Wild horse advocacy groups said they disagree with the board’s solutions. Suzanne Roy–a spokesperson for the American Wild Horse Campaign–said mass gathers alone will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

She said in a statement the federal agency is “ignoring holistic solutions to keep wild horses on the land and humanely manage them in viable free-roaming herds”.

Roy released the following full statement: “Wild horses are targets of a sophisticated propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the public that they are destroying public lands, even though 88% of BLM land has no wild horses on it! The propaganda campaign has two goals: 1. Convince Congress to fund a mass roundup plan to remove 130,000 wild horses from public lands over the next ten years (45,000 more than exist today!) and replace them with commercial livestock; and 2. to divert attention away from the true causes of environmental degradation on our public lands — the extractive industries like oil/gas, fracking, mining and livestock grazing, which this administration has sought to deregulate.”

American taxpayers should not be fooled by fake news into spending hundreds of millions of dollars to cruelly round up wild horses from public lands in order to replace them with taxpayer-subsidized livestock grazing.”

The Path Forward plan that will be discussed at the Advisory Board meeting is another giant subsidy program for the public lands livestock grazing industry, which produces less than 2 percent of American beef. It’s an inside-the-beltway deal cut by livestock lobbyists and two wealthy corporate animal welfare groups that will destroy America’s wild free-roaming horse and burro herds. It prioritizes the failed status quo approach of roundup, removal and warehousing of wild horses at taxpayer expense while ignoring holistic solutions to keep wild horses on the land and humanely manage them in viable free-roaming herds, per the wishes of the American people.”

The Board also planned to discuss ongoing adoption efforts during the Washington, D.C. meeting.

The board said more than 7 thousand wild horses have been adopted this year thanks to a new incentive program.

The Wild Horse and Burro National Advisory Board is meeting in Washington this week. Chairman Fred Woehl said they will be discussing the progress of the Adoption Incentive program started in March this year. The program gives people who adopt a wild horse or donkey up to 1 thousand dollars within the first year.

“That helps them feed that horse, that helps them train that horse, that helps them care for that horse that first year, which is always tough. The benefit is it will cost BLM 50,000 thousand dollars over the life of that horse if we put it in some kind of long-term holding, so we are going to save those taxpayers 49,000 dollars per horse by this program,” said Woehl.

Woehl said the Board will continue to monitor the success of the incentive program.

He said he’s committed to helping horses find a good home.
More than 235,000 wild horses and burros were adopted or sold to people through the general program since the 1970s.

21 replies »

  1. Same old tune! Now there are 90,000 wild horses? No one seems to question the BLM’s statement of numbers (except here) The public lands are “running out of grass & water? This must be the 12% of the public lands where there are actually wild horses AND they share their 12% with livestock, mines, drilling rigs And yet the horses being rounded up are fit & HEALTHY = at least until they are rounded up – then somehow – we hear about horses that HAVE to be euthanized! When they seemed to have existed and survived even with their disabilities – Odd.


    • Good question – do you think we will ever find out exactly how much of it is guesswork – or just that if they keep making the number larger & larger – it will boggle Congress’s minds?


    • Well, it includes a significant amount of “hocus pocus” since they use a combination of some field data combined with computer modeling and “estimates” of growth dynamics. One study published by B. Bauer took aim at these, and showed that at every data entry point if you doubled the numbers you would get very close to what the BLM purports to be “accurate” counts.

      Others have compiled data that shows even within the BLM’s published information the numbers are often biologically impossible, and fail to account for mortality (foal mortality is quite high in the first year generally).

      This week’s BLM comments about migration making counts difficult only shoots holes in any claimed accuracy anyway.

      They have also fixated on the 27,000 AML as what is “sustainable” though that number was itself nothing but a guess in 1971 and prompted the Act to direct the BLM to conduct an accurate inventory (which we still don’t have, nearly 50 year later). We hardly have credible information on how many horses are in holding and how many are already dead and still being paid for by taxpayer dollars.

      However, if they keep shrinking herds as dramatically as they intend, the counting may become easier, but this would also reduce their income stream so there is the stark truth that large declared numbers also bring in large government dollars, and the temptation rises to commit fraud.

      Short answer is they say “trust us” and expect to keep cashing their paychecks, while the public are routinely pushed back or blown off for the simplest of reasons. A personal example is I was looking for the actual counts of the horses shipped to Scott City KS a few years ago, where suddenly many were dying (and being killed by the federal veterinarian, as it turned out). When I simply wanted a death count and cause of death after invited media toured the feedlot, the BLM rep essentially told me to go FOIA myself. As this was my first effort to learn from the BLM, the lesson was needlessly harsh and cynical.


  2. I also heard new acting director Pendley tear up while exclaiming that wild horses have left our public lands little better than concrete while neglecting to take any other imaact on our public lands into account. Somehow the wild horses are a juggernaut of destruction.


  3. Sally Spencer has NO business being connected in any way to our wild horses ! She should be investigated for the illegal sale of our wild horses. Time for some justice !


  4. If the horses are starving and not healthy why are they reproducing so well? Mother nature seems to balance things out when left alone. Where are the wild cats and wolves which would probably help keep the population in check, I have never heard, seen or read anything about them at all. Or has the BLM/Ranchers secretly been killing them-after all they would attack their cattle. Somebody needs to point out or give a lesson in sexual education to the BLM that when they geld stallions they cannot reproduce, ya know, make babies, so why would you need to spay mares which is dangerous and unnecessary. or better yet, the birth control method (can’t remember the name of it) seems like the best solution.Spaying/neutering both sexes doesn’t make any sense, but then again anything the BLM says or does makes no sense. The only way the public is going to get the real story is if there is a march on Washington or even better invite the media to watch the roundups, check out the holding pens. The general public probably does not know of the plight of the American Mustang unless you are horse lovers.


    • Doreen, look up Wildlife Services to learn how we pay millions of dollars to kill off predators in this country, to protect livestock, and also know every documented predator-caused livestock kill brings a cash payback to their owners, too.

      Also, with all due respect, please do some homework on the idea of gelding stallions. On the surface this seems logical (we do this with domestic dogs and cats) but wild herd dynamics and genetic vigor depend on natural selection, that being stallions challenge each other and only the fittest breed mares, and then not forever. Most never get their own harems and the young especially live in bachelor bands large parts of their lives. Recognize as well it only takes one stud to cover a lot of mares, so gelding all the others will not reduce conception rates, only genetic diversity and thus viability.

      Contraceptive darting can work, but the BLM balks at this (too hard) and of course, it can’t be used indiscriminately or herd health suffers. This issue has also fiercely divided the overall advocacy. I see it as one tool that can be used sparingly, when and where it makes sense to do so, and not randomly or universally. There are other tools, many which are routinely ignored by the BLM since they don’t kill or remove the animals that for-profit interests see as competition for “their” resources on PUBLIC land.

      Also keep in mind the law requires these animals be managed as part of a “thriving natural ecological balance” by using the “minimal feasible” methods. Gelding stallions violated both the letter and the intent of the law, degrading both our herds and our laws.

      Ask yourself if this “Advisory Board” is seeking a range of options that include supporting both the law and the public trust. The reporting here indicating anger and tears (and something near hysteria) all opposing the very animals they are charged to protect is as far from reasoned oversight and advice as can be imagined.


  5. Once again, this is so sickening and heartbreaking! So who are the best orgs (legal or otherwise) to donate to right now to fight this Insanity, besides WHFF & AWHPC, TCF? Just have to step up to the plate to make a difference here. Everyone is asking for donations, but we need to choose wisely for the innocent ones. Need input here, plz? Thank you in advance! 🐴❤🐴


  6. From PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)

    SES Shudders at Clueless Reorganizations and Parade of Temporary Leaders
    Posted on Oct 30, 2019

    The Senior Executive Service contains the top level of civil service managers. In 2017, then-acting Interior David Bernhardt reassigned 27 of its 227 SES positions without a written plan or demonstrated rationale. Several resigned while the remainder suffered through –
    A massive yet amorphous Interior-wide reorganization of 49 offices across 8 bureaus into 12 “Unified Regions” headed by officials hand-picked by Bernhardt;
    Banishing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headquarters from Washington DC and spreading much of the staff into Western state offices; and
    The absence of permanent directors for Interior agencies, such as the National Park Service and BLM, with many short-term acting directors lasting only months.
    Respondents to the PEER survey of current SES members gave distressingly low marks on the direction of the agency, competence of political appointees, and lack of consultation, although the rate of return was less than 10%. Nonetheless, SES members offered trenchant observations about conditions in essays on what the biggest challenge facing Interior:

    “Inexperience, lack of competence, and extreme political influence by the current group of appointees—whether confirmed or acting.”

    “Loss of institutional knowledge and experienced staff.
    They—the DOI leadership—are silencing the voices of those that are knowledgeable/experienced who know their subject matter – what’s good, right or wrong, & will speak up. So they are transferring them out or making it so unbearable to work there they quit.”

    “Credibility w/reorganizing as there is no ‘plan.’”

    “Morale of career SES & career staff is abysmally low.”
    “These survey results are a feeble cry for help from within a smoldering bureaucratic purgatory,”


    President Trump can learn from Harding’s disaster
    By Bryan Craig

    On April 7, 1922, President Warren G. Harding’s secretary of interior, Albert Fall, leased the oil reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming to Harry Sinclair’s Mammoth Oil Company. Several weeks later, Fall leased more reserves at Elks Hill in California to Edward Doheny of the Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company. The deals were done in secret, and Fall was later convicted of taking a $100,000 bribe—the only cabinet officer ever to be found guilty of a crime. The scandal trashed Harding’s reputation.

    What can President Trump learn from the scandal?

    Transparency. When your administration does lease public land or handle private company transactions, be transparent as possible.
    Be aware of what your cabinet members/friends are doing.
    Millionaire money began to blur into personal lines for Fall. Also, Harding supported Fall’s efforts, but he was not strategic enough to see the backlash. Public outcry grew worse when it was revealed that Doheny liked to hire many former cabinet officers like Elihu Root,
    William McAdoo, and Fall. Ironically, the downfall came from a Republican Congress.
    Image is important.
    Thanks to the Teapot Dome and other major scandals, Harding’s reputation still ranks near the bottom. Even though the president was not personally involved in any of the scandals, he owned them.
    Calvin Coolidge was smarter. He distanced himself from the scandal-ridden cabinet officers, and moved ahead of the Senate when he announced an independent prosecutor, sending the whole thing to the courts, all before the Senate could pass its own resolution.

    President Trump’s policies do have some similarities to Harding’s: reorganizing government along business practices and uprooting conservation policy. Time will tell how far Trump’s reputation will rise or fall.


    • One has to wonder WHO is advising the president?
      There isn’t even “honor among thieves” ..
      These “acting appointees” will serve the interests of corporations (and themselves), as happened during the Harding administration, if they are allowed to get by with this public lands grab scheme.

      New federal lands czar said Trump ‘not fit to pull off Reagan’s boots’
      by Paul Bedard
      August 05, 2019

      “Those radio addresses reveal yet another way in which Trump is not fit to pull off Reagan’s boots,” wrote Pendley.

      The latest federal official granted the “acting” title was critical of President Trump in the 2016 election.
      William Perry Pendley, given the acting director duties for the Bureau of Land Management by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, penned a Daily Caller column in June 2016 critical of Trump.

      In it, the former Reagan aide wrote of Trump, “he is no Reagan and does not know what made Reagan’s presidency a success.”
      He suggested that Reagan had greater depth on issues and a better ability to explain his policies simply, especially in his famous radio addresses. “Those radio addresses reveal yet another way in which Trump is not fit to pull off Reagan’s boots,” wrote Pendley.
      The latest federal official granted the “acting” title was critical of President Trump in the 2016 election.
      William Perry Pendley, given the acting director duties for the Bureau of Land Management by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, penned a Daily Caller column in June 2016 critical of Trump.

      In it, the former Reagan aide wrote of Trump, “he is no Reagan and does not know what made Reagan’s presidency a success.”
      He suggested that Reagan had greater depth on issues and a better ability to explain his policies simply, especially in his famous radio addresses. “Those radio addresses reveal yet another way in which Trump is not fit to pull off Reagan’s boots,” wrote Pendley.


  8. This statement is patently untrue. The 1971 Act outlined a variety of tools as he well knows. For starters, how about the endless “non-emergency” gathers, the poorly supported bait trapping strategies, partnerships with interested public groups to monitor and document effects of different approaches (i.e., Fish Creek, Pryors, Sand Wash), and the TIP and other programs that have proven successful and raised public interest while keeping horses alive. And how about that incentive plan Woehl mentions right after, the $1,000 bonus paid to people to take wild horses off the range? And there are numerous other tools I have promoted over the years but which the BLM utterly ignores. And how about for starters getting independently verified population counts, or cameras on site during roundups and at holding corrals? Any limits the BLM suggests are self-imposed, and seemed intended to leave them only options to kill the animals they are mandated and paid to protect.

    If Woehl has a shred of integrity he should recant this remark. I won’t hold my breath.

    “I want every tool used that we have in the toolbox. I don’t want BLM limited to just one,” said Woehl.

    “Up to now, the only tool that BLM had was gathers, and they could only do emergency gathers,” he said.


  9. The Senate passed a Dept. of Interior funding package yesterday. Does anyone know if this included funding for the BLM beyond just their regular operating expenses? How much funding was passed for the Wild Horse and Burro Program, if any?

    “Senators voted 84-9 on the approximately $332 billion spending package, which combined four domestic spending bills covering the departments of Agriculture; the Interior; Commerce and Justice (along with science-related spending) and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.”


  10. From: TwinPeaksGather, BLM_CA
    Sent: Friday, November 1, 2019
    Subject: Notice of Final EA and Decision | BLM’s Twin Peaks Wild Horse and Burro EA

    Dear Interested Party,

    The Bureau of Land Management Eagle Lake Field Office (BLM) prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) (DOI-BLM-CA-N050-2019-0011-EA) proposing to gather and remove excess wild horses and burros from within and outside the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) and implement fertility control to maintain the population within Appropriate Management Level (AML) over a period of up to 10 years. The Twin Peaks HMA contains 789,852 acres of public and private lands in Lassen County, California and Washoe County, Nevada.

    Following public comment and review on the preliminary EA, the BLM’s decision is to authorize the proposed action. The Final EA (including Appendix R with BLM’s response to public comments), Finding of No Significant Impact, and Decision Record are available at the project’s webpage: This page can also be located from the California-Eagle Lake-2019-EA folder on the National NEPA register at:

    Please see attached letter and news release. Thank you for participating in this process.


    Bureau of Land Management

    Northern California District

    Eagle Lake Field Office

    2550 Riverside Drive

    Susanville, CA 96130


  11. This is just a portion of Jesica’s comment letter (photos and diagrams are included in her letter)

    Jesica Johnston’s great comments to BLM on their 10 year plan to round up wild horses & burros in the Twin Peaks HMA

    I hold a Masters in Environmental Planning with a background in Biology and have spent significant time completing my graduate work, and masters thesis researching, surveying and documenting the conflicts related to livestock grazing, wildlife, and wild horses and burros within the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area. The following are my preliminary comments on the Environmental Assessment (EA).
    My recent visit to the Twin Peaks HMA on May 10th, 11th and 12th included both an aerial population survey and ground field assessment. My findings are there is no “overpopulation” of wild horses and burros.
    The ecosystem and wild horse and burro populations appear to be achieving a “thriving natural ecological balance” consistent with the BLM mandates. The removal of wild horses and burros is the offices status quo in favor of livestock and fails to consider alternative management plans that protect public lands. The EA and BLM fails to prove that removing wild horses and burros improves conditions; while still authorizing intense livestock grazing.

    Ecological Contributions of Wild Horses and Burros
    The EA does not provide any discussion of the science and ecological contributions of wild horses and burros to the biological diversity on public lands or the negative impacts to wild horses and burros under this plan.
    In addition to the following scientific body of knowledge, my research has found that wild horses and burros contribute to the ecosystem and diversity in the Twin Peaks HMA. They are unique in possessing less efficient post-gastric digestive systems that contribute to higher material passage rates (Feldhamer, Thompson, Chapman, 2003). Horses also tend to utilize more abundant, but poorer nutritional quality plant species (Feldhamer, Thompson, Chapman, 2003). Horse droppings pass most seeds intact, which facilitates seed dispersal, and cycles nutrient rich material that builds soil moisture retention resulting in an increase in native plant diversity near horse trails (Downer, 2007) (Ostermann-Kelm, Atwill, Rubin, Hendrickson, Boyce, 2009).

    Furthermore, competition between wild horses and burros and other native or domestic species has not been substantiated (Feldhamer, Thompson, Chapman, 2003). Wild horses utilize a broader range of plant species in their diet and are one of the least-selective grazers in the western states (Beever, 2003). Approximately 80% of their diet is composed of shrub and grasslands with less than 1% comprised of riparian vegetation (Berger, 1986). Burros tend to have a broader diet, which includes approximately 50% of browse species such as trees, shrubs and vines with the rest was comprised of grasslands (Feldhamer, Thompson, Chapman, 2003).
    Wild horses and burros use the land and resources at different intensities throughout the year, allowing for a natural rest and rotation of foraging pressures (Downer, 2007). Also, wild horses and burros tend to use relatively few trails in traveling to and from grazing, resting and water sources which minimizes trampling and riparian damage near waterways (Beever, 2003) (Ganskopp, Vavra, 1986). These adaptations minimize impacts to their environment and illustrate sustainable integration within the ecosystem.


  12. Who in Congress will act on the truth to save our wild horses & burros from extinction ? The new members of the Board are already misinformed.


    • It seems they were & are “chosen” because they will believe & put forth this misinformation! Watching Ginger on the former Board attempt to inform people who do not want to be informed was tough. Cannot imagine how frustrating it had to be to sit there thru that! Saying that this “advisory” board is impartial? Really???


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