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Federal Agency Shifts Blame – Hiding Their Mismanagement of Wild Horse Program

Agency Has Ignored Humane Fertility Control for Decades

To The Desert Independent

May 17, 2016

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – The Federal agency responsible for controlling wild horse populations is seeking to rewrite their mismanagement of this program spanning the last 30 years. The Bureau of Land Management claims wild horses in holding are busting their budget, yet failed to address economic tools that have been at their disposal for decades to keep horses out of holding and on their legal ranges in the West.

“BLM’s recent press release fails to address economical tools that have been at their disposal for decades which can control wild horse populations in a humane manner on their home ranges as the Wild Horse and Burro Act intended,” said Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of the Cloud Foundation. “BLM’s lack of on-the-range management has come at a very high price. Helicopter contractors make millions. Wild horses lose their freedom. And the American public foots the bill for large scale incarceration.”

Kathrens noted that contraception alternatives have been available since the late 1980s. Known as “PZP and PZP-22,” the vaccines render a mare infertile for one to two years or even longer. “Unfortunately, less than 1% of the BLM budget is allocated to these non-invasive tools, much to the frustration of equine professionals, wild horse advocates, and even public land permittees,” states Kathrens.

The National Academies of Science (NAS), in their 2013 in-depth analysis of the Wild horse and Burro Program (Using Science to Improve the Wild Horse and Burro Program) states ”. . .the committee considers the three most promising methods of fertility control to be PZP vaccines (in the forms of PZP-22 and SpayVac), GonaCon, and chemical vasectomy”.

“BLM has ignored this recommendation by the NAS. Instead they are now proposing dangerous sterilization surgeries on wild horse mares, operations considered risky even for domestic mares in a sterile environment.” Kathrens continues. “And they are proposing to change the Act, allowing wild horses to be transferred to other government agencies without limitation.” Many fear the wild horses will end up being sold to slaughter as they would lose their protections under the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

“This legislative proposal has no place in an annual funding request and by passes key House and Senate Committees with oversight of BLM,” Kathrens stated. “If enacted, it would completely undermine the Wild Horse and Burro Act. All Americans should voice their opposition to this radical and unnecessary change to this landmark law, and demand that the BLM use humane tools to manage wild horses on the range immediately.”

The Facts:

  • 78% of herds are not genetically viable as they contain fewer than 150 wild horses in the entire herd. Lack of genetic diversity puts herds at risk of extinction.

  • Wild horses and burros have lost 41% of their habitat since passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act even though the Act specifies that the horses are to be “managed where presently found.”

  • Of the 339 herds designated after the passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act n December of 1971, only 179 herds remain.

  • On the 179 wild horse herd areas remaining, cattle are allocated 82% of the forage. The horses and burros get 18%

  • An estimated 2 million wild horses roamed the West in the early 1900s.


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