Horse News

BLM Delivers Death Sentence for America’s Wild Horses

New Report Outlines Mass Roundup Plan that Will Result in Fiscal Ruin and the Destruction of America’s Wild Horse & Burro Herds

Photo by Carol Walker

A surge in funding — $21 million of additional taxpayer dollars for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Management Program — will be used for the removal of 20,000-30,000 wild horses and burros from federal lands this year and each year for many years to come, and the painful mass surgical sterilization of thousands of wild mares, according to a report issued to Congress this week by the BLM.

The funding — and the consequent use of the money for roundups and surgical sterilization rather than humane fertility control such as the PZP vaccine — is the direct result of a backroom deal cut between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Humane Society Legislative Fund, ASPCA, American Mustang Foundation, Return to Freedom, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and other western ranching interests.

The report, which BLM was required to provide to Congress for a 60-day review prior to utilizing any new funding, outlines a plan to cull wild horse and burro populations by 70 percent through inhumane helicopter roundups, brutal surgical sterilization procedures, and doubling the number of captured wild horses warehoused in holding pens at a staggering cost to American taxpayers. Under the plan, 20,000-30,000 horses would be rounded up yearly for up to 18 years. BLM estimates a cost of $65.5 million in FY 2020, rising to $360 million yearly.

“The Humane Society and ASPCA devised a reckless plot to put the fate of our iconic American wild horses and burros in the hands of BLM leaders intent on mass roundups and draconian surgical sterilization,” said Marty Irby, a lifelong horseman and executive director at Animal Wellness Action. “Now, with BLM’s report to Congress, we see the gory details: a plan to depopulate wild horses and burros setting up a longer-term play to allow their mass slaughter.  These animal lobbying groups have sentenced our mustangs to a lengthy round of hellish treatment, and Congress should not waste one more taxpayer dollar on this scheme.”

“By prioritizing the failed approach of mass roundup and warehousing of tens of thousands of wild horses in holding facilities, the agency is setting the stage for the ultimate slaughter of these American icons,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign. “Congress must put the brakes on this fiscally irresponsible, scientifically and morally bankrupt plan by requiring BLM to prioritize humane fertility control and prohibit surgical sterilization in accordance with scientific recommendations and in the interest of American taxpayers, who overwhelmingly support the protection of wild horses and burros on our Western public lands.”

The $21 million increase to the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program’s $81-million-a-year budget was part of the final omnibus FY 2020 spending package that was signed into law in December of last year. Appropriators ignored requests by U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva, (D-AZ) Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, and 11 of his House colleagues, to restrict funding to prioritize humane population management with scientifically recommended fertility control.

Rep. Grijalva and other members of both the House and Senate have again requested appropriations language for FY 2021 requiring BLM to spend ten percent of its budget on humane fertility control and prohibiting the use of barbaric surgical sterilization of wild horses on the range.

The American Wild Horse Campaign just completed the first year of a highly successful PZP fertility control program in Nevada’s Virginia Range, showing that PZP is more humane and cost-effective than removals. AWHC estimates that 690 births were prevented at a cost of $182,000. In stark contrast, BLM would spend $690,000 to round up those same horses and an astronomical $34.5 million to maintain them in holding facilities for life, resulting in a net cost to taxpayers of $35 million in a single herd area.

Polling released in October shows a strong bipartisan majority and nearly three out of four Americans, oppose the new plan to round up mass numbers of federally protected wild horses and burros from America’s Western public lands.

13 replies »

  1. While we might not agree with everything in this article, it would be a good place to start.

    Abolish the BLM and Replace It with a U.S. Desert and Grassland Service
    Andy Kerr’s
    Public Lands Blog

    The BLM doesn’t get much respect. Unfortunately, the agency’s dismal reputation is not without cause. The agency has misplaced priorities, which results in mismanagement of public resources. Critics have nicknamed it the Bureau of Large Mistakes, the Bureau of Livestock and Mining, and the Bureau of Lumbering and Mining-with justification.


  2. Many of these leases are given to foreign-owned/multi-national corporations

    The Hidden World of Noncompetitive Oil and Gas Leasing
    By Kate Kelly, Jenny Rowland-Shea, and Nicole Gentile May 23, 2019,

    At a minimum, these findings point to a wasteful and unnecessary leasing program that siphons away the BLM’s limited resources and shortchanges taxpayers. But the findings may also provide evidence of an underground business model in which companies buy cheap leases—not with the intent to develop oil and gas but in order to resell the parcels at profit or to pad their balance sheets with unexplored subsurface reserves. The companies or individuals that engage in this speculating and stockpiling are not in keeping with the intent of the Mineral Leasing Act, and such activity should be considered in violation of BLM regulations, which require lessees to “exercise reasonable diligence in developing and producing” oil and gas.7

    This report seeks to answer some basic questions about this hidden leasing process:
    • What is noncompetitive leasing, and how does the process work?
    • Who is leasing public lands through this process, and what, if anything, are they doing with them?
    • Who stands to benefit from this practice, and what are the impacts to American taxpayers and public lands?
    The report also explores how the noncompetitive leasing process hurts taxpayers by giving away public lands at a lower rate and locking them up indefinitely so that they cannot be managed for other purposes, including conservation and outdoor recreation.


  3. Colorado
    The People of Colorado vs the State(excerpts)

    It’s somewhat of an aside but Canadian ownership of mineral and fossil fuel companies have an ugly history in Colorado. Some people will remember the Summitville Mine disaster. A cyanide gold mine gone haywire, it became a federal Superfund site. It cost the American people $250 million for initial cleanup, with a long-term annual operating cost of $2 million for water treatment. After 27 years of operation by EPA, Colorado will start picking up these annual costs in 2021. The Canadian company that operated the gold mine refuses to pay.

    Continuous monitoring of the large emitters of industrial-sized oil installations in the fracking fields is a more difficult undertaking. There are likely thousands of them. A small group of activists have been in contact with scientists in an attempt to break the logjam. They have a commitment from a local aviation company, the most experienced in the world, to do flyovers to identify the large emitters. The entire northern Front Range formed by the oil-bearing Denver-Julseberg Basin could be monitored at a cost of $6,000 per flight. Analysis of the collected data by scientists would cost another $2,000 per flight. These activists, of whom I am one, have talked to the state budget committee and to legislative leaders themselves about funding this initiative.

    One senate leader told me there was no money and that I didn’t understand budgets. Perhaps not, but I do understand puffery and pork.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you EVERYONE for the updates & valuable information here. Most Americans are against the horrendous, cruel, round-ups, & slaughter of the innocent ones. Plus the new proposed budget for the BLM to wipe them out? Just not seeing any outrage here on television,
    Except for us & those that we follow to protect them? I am assuming that Big Brother (Government), BLM, Oil & mining, Cattlemen’s Association, plus others are thinking that this is a perfect time to wipe out the herds since they think no was is watching or holding them accountable (with the virus happening). I wish there was more televised on the news now, regarding the amount of $$ designated to round-up & destroy these magnificent ones at taxpayers expense. Holding pens at the present time are pathetic! Angry? You bet we are, but keep sending those emails to the BLM directly. “WE ARE THEIR VOICE”…🐴❤🐴

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And now, our wild horses will have to deal with hordes of E-bikers, too?

    “The Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all last month proposed rules that would open non-motorized trails to electric-powered mountain bikes. Each agency is asking for public comment on the plan. The rule comes from a controversial order issued in August by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt directing the agencies’ managers to develop rules allowing e-bikes on all bike trails.

    Bernhardt’s Secretarial Order 3376 described how electric motors on bikes “expanded access to recreational opportunities.” Bernhardt shifted the definition and regulation of e-bikes from motorized vehicles to bikes and gave land managers 14 days to craft rules that allow electric bikes everywhere bicycles are allowed on National Park, BLM and U.S. Fish and Wildlife lands.”


  6. Comments are due today,..May 15

    Dear friends,

    As many of you know, I’ve been documenting the lives of the Pryor Mustangs for a very long time. In 1994 I had a chance encounter with the stunning black stallion, Raven. A year later Raven and his family brought their newborn colt out of the forest right in front of my camera. The pale colt tottered behind his stunning palomino mother, Phoenix. I named the fragile foal Cloud.

    Cloud grew into a powerful fighting stallion. Until the very end he battled to keep his family together. He never gave up. And neither can we.

    Please click below to watch the video, and take a few minutes to comment on this very dangerous plan for the Pryor herd.

    Happy Trails,

    Ginger Kathrens
    Watch The Video
    Click Here to Take Action

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Some history

    Montana’s Wild Horses Offer a Window on History, Heredity (excerpts)


    JULY 25, 1999

    These are not renegade former ranch horses. They are a genetic sample of Old World Spanish horses brought to North America with the conquistadors.

    Stamped with the traits of their lineage, the horses have distinct characteristics of Spanish parade horses today.

    Standing between 13.2 hands and 14.3 hands, these small, rugged horses, the size of a large pony, have slender, tapered muzzles, wide-set eyes, short backs and low-set tails. Their heads have a slightly rounded profile, identified by horse breeders as a “Roman nose.” High-stepping knee action helps them navigate the unforgiving terrain as they migrate from desert to mountaintop with the seasons.

    But it is their coloring and primitive markings, throwbacks to their origins, that fascinate scientists.

    There are mouse-gray, black-headed horses; duns, or cream-colored horses; blue roans; and pure black horses. Their genetic heritage goes back so far they have zebra striping on their legs and dark striping down their backs and withers.

    “They are a unique genetic resource,” said Phillip Sponenberg, doctor of veterinary medicine and rare breed researcher with Virginia/Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Sponenberg’s Pryor horse research has helped legitimize the unique animals with the muscle of science.

    “If we lose these animals they are gone for good, because they don’t exist anywhere else,” he said.

    But last month, the herd was abruptly thinned when five horses–two stallions, two mares and a foal–were killed by a bolt of lightning.

    Although the origins of the herd are documented in Lewis and Clark’s journal, their history is alive in Crow memory, said Hill and Lefthand. They are believed to be the 65-head herd that Sgt. Nathaniel Pryor bought from the Nez Perce to trade with the Mandan. By journal accounts, 15 escaped and the rest were stolen by the Crow.

    “We know the story; we remember when it happened,” Lefthand said.

    The horses wandered the Pryors in peace, mostly, until the 1960s, Coates-Markle said.

    That’s when the Bureau of Land Management targeted them for elimination. Believing the horses were nothing more than unattended and unwanted ranch animals eroding grazing leases, the BLM announced a roundup to sell them to pet-food manufacturers.

    Communities on the Montana-Wyoming border became so enraged by the BLM’s plan that they formed the Pryor Mountain Mustang Assn., which directly challenged the government.

    The grass-roots effort managed to take the cause to the American public with coverage from the likes of National Geographic, Newsweek and national television affiliates.

    By fall, the last decade of research on the horses and the range lands will be analyzed. Coates-Markle considers it the most comprehensive data on the ecosystem.

    “With that information, we will look to what we need to do to maintain the herd for the next 200 years,” she said. “It would be nice if humans could exist in a situation with harmony with the horses. . . .

    “Should we be so arrogant [as] to think we know everything there is about these animals and other species? I don’t think so. I think there is a lot to be learned for human social structure. There is so much out there [that] we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The most important thing that needs to happen is that the wild horses of the western states who have lived on their home ranges for many, many years should be protected from being exterminated by our government headed by the BLM.
    I saw an article today in my home paper that indicated that the BLM have a plan to spend more than 2 decades rounding up over 200,000 Mustangs, costing more than $1 billion alone over the first 6 years. They would round up our wild horses (and wild burros) and pay taxpayer dollars to keep them corralled and fed. They also want these wild horses to be permanently sterilized. The only reason given is that the wild horse populations need to be slashed in order to sustain levels necessary to protect U.S. rangeland. Cattle ranchers want these federally subsidized lands for their cattle to graze, i.e., the wild horses are in the way. That’s what it sounds like to me.
    There are so many Americans that do not want this to happen but it seems to make no difference.There are many wild horse advocates who have been trying for years to help resolve problems. No matter how many petitions are submitted to our Congressional Representatives and Senators, nothing gets resolved. Wild horses are still being sent to slaughter, why??? This is so wrong. Round-ups that are being done by helicopters are such a cruel way to round up wild horse families. The stallions and mares are separated, the foals are discarded and many of them are badly injured or killed in these round-ups. Luckily, some are rescued by rescue groups, but not all. What happens to these beautiful tiny foals who should be with their mothers?This makes no sense in any way, shape or form. Stop this cruel practice of separation.Leave our wild horses alone to live wild and free…..
    I don’t understand the reasoning for what is going on. If the BLM thinks there are too many wild horses, there are safe, humane methods of sterilization that can be used by those who will make sure the horses are not injured in the process. This is already being done in some areas.
    As far as getting rid of the wild horses and burros so that cattle can graze on these same lands, this is not an option. Find another way to feed the cattle, like making the cattle ranchers pay for feed for their cattle. Wild horses and cattle do not eat the same forage, so why can’t they co-exist on these lands? Our wild horse population is supposed to be protected from harm by our government, not the opposite …. This needs to be addressed by Congress in a positive way for our magnificent wild horses of the West…….Figure it out……..

    Liked by 2 people

    • We don’t have 200,000 wild horses and burros on our public lands (BLM and USFS combined) and certainly won’t as so many are already being contraceptive darted, and so many others targeted for removals and barbaric sterilization. Anyone visiting their wild horses should take note of how many foals they see, or don’t see, as these herds will be purposefully extinguished by our own payments to the agencies we hire to “manage” them.

      Liked by 1 person

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