BLM finally exploring wild horse solutions other than warehousing

It appears someone at the Bureau of Land Management has come to the belated conclusion that keeping nearly 50,000 “wild” horses and burros in short-term corrals and long-term pastures, which results in the taxpayers feeding them at a cost of $50,000 apiece for their average 25-year life span, is not the best solution to the problem.

Earlier this month the BLM announced it will initiate 21 research projects with a goal of being able to properly maintain a sustainable population of wild horses and burros on the open range, which would be a relief to the horses, the rangeland, water resources, ranchers and other wildlife.

Because they have virtually no natural predators, wild horse herds can double in size in four years. But since Congress refuses to fund the slaughter of unadoptable horses and burros, which was the designated remedy for excess animals under the original Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971, more than 60 percent of the BLM’s $70 million annual budget for managing wild horses and burros is consumed by warehousing the animals, one of the largest corral complexes is in Palomino Valley near Reno.

Back in 1971 there were about 25,000 wild horses and burros on the range, but since then the number of animals on public lands has more than doubled to 58,150 — 9,000 of those were born in the past year alone.

Of course, the BLM is pursuing this research endeavor in the manner it knows best — spending our money. It plans to spend $11 million over 5 years.

The BLM says it will spend that money on university and U.S. Geological Survey scientists, primarily to develop longer lasting fertility-control vaccines, as well as efficient methods for spaying and neutering wild horses.

“Given the cost of caring for horses off the range and the difficulty of finding qualified adopters, it is clear that this challenge must be solved by addressing population growth on the range,” Mike Tupper, BLM Deputy Assistant Director for Resources and Planning, was quoted as saying in the BLM announcement, showing a knack for the obvious. “The BLM is committed to developing new tools that allow us to manage this program sustainably and for the benefit of the animals and the land.”

The specifics of the research projects include:

— A one-year project that will aim to develop a minimally invasive surgical sterilization method for wild horse mares that requires no incisions.
— Two projects that aim during a two-year period to develop different surgical approaches for tubal ligation in mares.
— A six-month project that will determine whether an existing accepted surgical sterilization procedure commonly used for domestic mares can be safely conducted on wild horses.
— A two-year project will focus on further study of Gonocon, an approved and labeled contraceptive vaccine for equids.
— A two-year study to develop a new, permanent contraceptive vaccine for wild horse mares.
— A four-year project that will attempt to develop a new delivery vehicle for porcine zona pellucida (PZP) — a temporary contraceptive currently used in some wild horse herds – that would increase the duration of the vaccine’s effectiveness.
— A three-year project for the development of an injectable agent that would inactivate hormones and decrease female and male gonad viability.

Nowhere is there even a suggestion of one of the most practical means of mitigating the overpopulation of the herds — humane euthanasia of sick and injured animals with their carcasses sold commercially to defray the cost to taxpayers. But that would take an act of Congress, which is even slower to act than the BLM.

Meanwhile, in another rare display of logical decision making this summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled that wild horses are not eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act, because they are not a distinct and native population. The decision came in response to a petition from two wild horse advocacy groups, who claimed the wild horse is threatened with extinction, even though the real problem is overabundance.

We welcome any effort by the federal land bureaucracies to save tax money and protect the open range. — TM


  1. Diane Cotterman says:

    Please just turn them loose on the open range where they belong and let MOTHER NATHER take care of them what in gods green earth and who and what took care of them before man MOTHER NATHER why does everyone think its all the Wild and beautiful loving and caring wild Horses are the cause of the range going to hell what about the welfare Ranchers and all the cattle and the sheep you the BLM are cutting the Wild Horses land down because you and the Welfare Ranchers don’t want the Wild horses on the land BUT by GOD they have every right to be there more than the cattle or sheep when the Ranchers cut back a lot on there cattle and sheep and you the BLM cut back on there grading land than there will be plenty of land for all the horses and cattle and sheep

    • Susan Humphrey says:

      Turning them loos on the open range and letting Mother Nature take care of them is what has made this mess. animals cant be in the wild when they don’t have natural predators…that is the “rule” of nature. Otherwise…the only way they die is a very harsh death: the land becomes overgrazed to the point it is unsustainable (not just to the horses, but all other animals who depend on it to survive.) The animals on the land then start dying in massive extinctions until the only ones left are the few that had enough fat reserves to get them through the die-off. Once that has happened…and the majority of animals have died…then the cycle will start all over again.
      That can’t happen on BLM range, because it is “managed land”…(that is the “M”)… and it must be managed for multi-uses and can’t be over-grazed by any species. Cattle aren’t allowed to be turned out on range that doesn’t have enough grass, and are taken off before it is overgrazed. Cattle aren’t the problem on BLM land; they are seasonal and easily removed or kept off the range completely during drought years. Horses and burros are on the range 365 days a year. Equines are not part of the current ecosystem and are the only species on that range that have incisors that can bite the grass into the dirt and the only species that have hooves that compact the ground, which makes new growth difficult. Cattle and sheep have teeth and hooves like native animals. (bison, elk, deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and mountain goats)
      Perhaps you should read the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse & Burro Act. It spells out how the horses are to be managed…and that does not include leaving them alone on the range.
      While you are at it, please feel free to read the Taylor Grazing Act, which precedes the WFRH&BA, so livestock grazing has precedent over horses.
      Horses have been allotted a certain number of year-round “grazing rights”, and they are nearly double that number on the range. As for the excess horses that have been taken off the range, nowhere in the WFRH&BA are they supposed to be kept after they have been unadopted after three tries…the horses are to be destroyed or sold.
      Most ranchers don’t want all the horses gone, they just want them managed. They just want the law to be followed. The maximum number of horses on the HMA’s are to be 26,600. That is plenty!

      • Thank you so much .So you want the Wild horses to be all sent to slaughter or shot this keeps up and we will loose all our wild horses and for birth control like the BLM is talking about doing will harm the the baby’s or deform them and also make it where the mare cant get pg so they die anyway and cutting the studs nuts off the mares can’t get pg and then all the Wild horses die off and than there is no more

      • How many cow and sheep should be on the range 1000 to everyone horse you and the Ranchers want less Wild horses and more cattle and sheep on the range so you are OK with the Wild horses going to slaughter but lett the Ranchers have all the land

      • Zig Pope says:

        You need to do your homework and stop spouting your endless misinformation. The ranchers have flooded our public lands with their overgrazing cattle, with the aiding and abetting of the BLM. The wild horse management areas are incessantly being squeezed, and repopulated with cattle. Good God, there are photos of cattle being turned loose on land where horses have just been rounded up because of the “drought”.

        Here, do a little reading and educate yourself, perhaps take a critical thinking class or two.

        • Leann Hunt says:

          Thank you for your post and the information! Too few media outlets really do their home work, instead relying on what the BLM says. Thanks again!

        • karen geampa says:

          Finally, someone who gets it, the BLM certainly doesn’t. But then again the BLM is basically in the pockets of the cattlemen. Cattle are far more destructive to the range and water sources. Forage torn up by the roots, water holes urinated and defecated in. Also, most of the cattle placed on OUR PUBLIC land are butchered and sold overseas. Don’t believe 99% of the BLM says…….

      • Well, well, well Susie Q must troll for every article she can put her spin on about our Wild AND domestic horses…… She’s a want be Sue Wallis…… A big fat tick that just sticks like clue on misinformation…..loves to spew her twisted mis information!!!!

        She by the way endorses Horse Slaughter….. So that being said we know where she stands, don’t we!?!?!?!?

        And no matter what we say, showing facts or any piece of unbiased information to dislodge her views…… She will NOT change her mind!!!!!

        Having fun yet Susie Q???????
        Pathetic type of individual you are, you must be bought like many politicians like Blunt, and so on and so on!!!
        How proud you must be of yourself!?!?!?! WE you see will not be judging you and others in the end…….
        Sorry state indeed!!!!

      • Diane Cotterman says:

        And that land is been taken out from under them so they so they get less and less untel they have no more and that’s what the Welfare Ranchers want and the BLM and the all mighty Government wants so they can do what ever they want with the wide open range and they will kill off everything except the Fing Cattle

  2. Diana St. Gaudens says:

    What a horrible article. Shame on you!

  3. Sue carter says:

    Even though the author wears a big black cowboy hat and has a handlebar mustache, he is ignorant as the day is long about wild horses. The original Feww Roaming Wild Horses and Burros Act had no provision for killing off wild horses. That was inserted by Conrad Burns with help from Harry Reid.
    There were a million Wild Horses in the West (comparable to elk numbers) before “mustangers” aka cattlemen started killing them off. The American horse stock was decimated by cruel, greedy men; hence, the need for the Wild Horse Act.
    The only reason that there are few predators is that Wildlife Services kill them off for the protection of cattle, at the expense of American Taxpayers. This along with the subsidized cost of grazing (at least 10 times lower than private grazing costs) for Welfare Ranchers, the largest of whom are Corporations, Millinaires and Mining companies like Barrick Gold.
    Mr. faux Cowboy is also ignorant of the fact, that Equus Callabus is indeed NATIVE to the North American Continent. Recreationists who come to the West to hike, photograph, fish or just enjoy the great outdoors, abhor the sight of herds of domestic cattle and their piles of smelling manure splattered all over the landscape.
    BLMs management to extinction, on Herd Management Areas that were established for Wild Horses is blatant thievery.
    What a phony this guy is!

  4. This problem was created because of the mismanagement by the BLM who have allowed special interests, particularly the welfare ranchers to influence their decisions. Reduce the allotments for grazing cattle and allow the horses to have their land back. Stop the killing of the animals that prey on the horses and if absolutely necessary follow the PZP protocol which although not ideal is a better solution than permanent sterilization which will decimate the herds altering the necessary behaviors of the horses and reducing the gene pool to unsustainable, unhealthy levels. The BLM’s disregard for the welfare of our wild horses is disgusting. It is the fox guarding the hen house. Remove the ranchers from the BLM boards that determine allotment policy and ad some wildlife advocates.The horses are brutally and cruelly rounded up by helicopters, families separated and then warehoused with no shelter and little regard for their wellbeing. Every ruse is being used to circumvent the Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act including the Burns amendment. What the BLM is allowed to get away with is despicable and unforgiveable. The “management” of the horses is the problem, the goal being the eventual elimination of these beautiful animals, which are a national treasure.

    • Amen

    • BJ Grubb says:

      In complete agreement with Jeannie Martinico…ditto. What the BLM and supporters are doing, have done and plan to do is outrageous and unacceptable. We need some news show like 60 minutes to do a non biased program showing the devastation of the American Wild Horse/Mustang/Burro species BEFORE they no longer exist. There is NO EXCUSE other than greed for this current situation.

  5. Theresa Schulke says:

    Well well, my my; if this is the best the BLM can come to real solutions of removing the Wild horses for personal convenience for mining, fracking, and ranching………I suggest you rewrite this editorial. There is no over-population of Wild Horses. This has already been proven, do your research. The methods that are proposed by the BLM here are nothing but tools for extinction and total removal of Wild Horses. Your own personal wish for euthanizing the Wild Horses is a very good indication that you do not write your articles with any degree of reporting news for all readers; just giving your own personal opinion and endorsing their slaughter is arrogance and only your opinion. 90% of Americans want the Wild Horses protected, you Sir are a mere 10%. I would love to know who you rub shoulders with; ranchers perhaps?

    Disgusted with your report,
    Theresa Schulke

  6. I cannot see why men women and government think they can do a better job than nature . As everyone can plainly see that has never happened .

  7. This is a PATHETIC uneducated arrogant article!!!! You’d think we’d be use to it??????

    GOD will JUDGE you all in the end!!!!
    Judgement day will come!
    Enjoy your self serving ways while you can!
    American Tax payer I am and I want ALL the horses to have,there HOMES BACK!
    Disgusted with the lot of you !!!

    • Diane Cotterman says:

      Amen I agree I want the wild one back on the range and running wild and free and to stay that way

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