BLM Plan for Mega-Gather Is Budget Buster

By on October 5, 2015 with 12 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The Bureau of Land Management has proposed a round-up and removal of approximately 1,705 horses from Wyoming’s Red Desert Complex– nearly two-thirds of the total number of horses the agency removed from public lands across 10 states for all of last year. If this massive operation occurs, it would result not only in a bad outcome for horses, but it would deplete Wyoming of half its wild horses and American taxpayers of as much as $78 million in holding costs over the lifespan of nearly 2,000 animals who are about to lose their freedom.

Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the federal government, through the BLM, is charged with protecting about 50,000 wild horses and 10,000 burros that inhabit tens of millions of acres of public lands in the West. For years, the Bureau had been rounding up 10,000 or more wild horses each year – far more horses than the agency could place with willing adopters. As a consequence, the agency began aggregating an enormous number of wild horses at holding facilities.

The captive horse population has now swelled to 50,000 – about as large a population as that of free-roaming horses – and the cost of care for these horses is cannibalizing the agency’s budget during a time when Congress is intent on belt-tightening across the board. It costs more than $43 million a year just to care for these captive horses and recent estimates have shown that for every additional horse added into this holding system, taxpayers will pay approximately $46,000.

In short, the plan for the round-up of the Red Desert complex horses is a budget buster. It’s an example of government waste and the federal bureaucracy spinning its wheels.

The BLM should know better. It’s been on the path to financial insolvency as a result of its insistence on gathering more and more horses and then having to maintain them in short-term and long-term holding facilities. For precisely this reason, the agency cut back the round-ups, gathering fewer than 2,000 horses in 2014.

But that approach didn’t last, and this massive round-up of a single wild horse population marks a return to the old, financially reckless practices of the agency. It should not proceed.

Instead, the agency must opt for an alternative management method, and the obvious pathway forward is fertility control.

While the BLM claims that fertility control is not as effective in controlling large herds, the truth is that the agency has been too timid and halting in putting it to use. Only in Colorado has the agency even made a modest effort to put fertility control to work.

Indeed, in 2014, throughout the West, the BLM treated fewer than 400 wild horses and burros with fertility control treatments – that’s 400 animals out of a total estimated population of 57,000, or less than 1 percent of the entire population of wild horses and burros.

Instead, the agency continues to focus on rushing from crisis to crisis, as with this large-scale removal of horses from Wyoming. This will just transfer the BLM’s perceived problem from the open range to the corral. Something simply has to change and it has to change fast, so America’s wild horses do not continue to suffer. This is the wrong plan, and the BLM should not burden the next Administration – or the taxpayer – with this kind of liability.

Stop the round-up of Wyoming’s wild horses »

Equine, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Sue Carter says:

    This, coupled with last year’s removal of 1263, in nearly the same area, will pretty well exterminate the Wild Horse from the State of Wyoming. The Cowboy State should be ashamed! How can this be stopped?

    • Joan E. Landers says:

      Maybe there should be a massive letter writing campaign ( not emails which are easy to delete with the click of a mouse or touch of the finger)from folks in Wyoming to the BLM and your representatives in Washington, and get the newspapers in Wyoming to write articles, if they haven’t already. Sometimes things like this can influence people the right people to act.

  2. David Bernazani says:

    The U.S. government never met a wasteful, reckless animal control program it didn’t love.

  3. Janet Curtis says:

    BLM. You have taken sent to slaughter put in filthy unsheltered pens way more than enough of OUR horses underpopulated they do NOT need PzP I hate that drug!It never stops roundups or reroundups. You rerounded a pdarted burro she was in labor you ran her hooves off and the foal died and that lil mama wernt to slaughter with no feet. Thes majestic animals are Gods gift to us. military habitat restorers fire preventors. How can you do this? develope sell our lands but that being bad enough leave the rest of wy horses alone they neeed a moratorium. This horse hating mafia food $ making off them and us is an outrage! Pls stop killing our icon smbols of freedom. across this country you are really taking them all and leaving cattle 200 to one horse. Its bad enough and polk horses gave 3 million lives in our wars. they are not hurting anyone or anything! this is immoral and sad as hell. Why are yr cowboys laughing on video about the foal whos leg you shattered then made it wak bk to pen and shot it in the head. The FBI wants evidence of all blm and fws abuses and we have a ton of info against your eil heartless practices against mans other best friend. like the korean and chinese dogmeat farms you treat them like trash. Alll evidence of this roundup and others HAVE been recorded. We have the FBI on our side because feds are committting fed crimes. You used to prosecute ppll who harmed them. Now You are the criminals and animal abusers and murderers. Respect them leave them be. only help and protect not shoot and kill and scare and break their hearts and ours.Find some humanity pls! All docs of your severe abuses are being sent to the fbi now. We know more than you think. So expect some serious consequences from the evil deadly deeds you and fws perpetrate on these beautiful animals. 3 million gave their lives in our wars and in mines. they were respected and many ppl wound not have been BORN if horses hadnt saved their ancestors. You must stop taking them all. they suffer so badly and the trip to death is death before the horrific slaughter it takes hrs to kill a horse its the worst of all abuses and we are NOT going to take these rogue horse stealing abusive treatment of anymore. So be aware the FBI will be there documenting. You cant hide from them but they CAN hide from your evil deeds and record for supreme court action against this perverse horse hatred. if you dont believe me call 1800 callfbi. oh how they want this to stop! its immoral and sick. You really have to hire sociopaths to do this.

    • Wendy says:

      $46,000 per year per horse according to BLM. IN corrals with not enough water or hay, no shelter from the weather conditions, penned up in desert heat. What the Hell is BLM Charging tax payers all this money??

  4. Lisa LeBlanc says:

    Mr. Pacelle,
    While I appreciate, wholeheartedly, any article which brings attention to the lack of parity in managing wild horses and burros, one of the most glaring omissions in any article, report or data coming from the BLM regarding these animals in any accuracy in reporting their populations.
    Slightly more than 1% of this massive budget goes toward aerial surveys and on the ground monitoring of these animals. Yearly declarations of those populations are based on ‘estimates’ while definitive proof of those populations – in the form of photographs or video – is conspicuously absent.
    High numbers mean more money from Appropriations. The West finds itself in the throes of a merciless, four year old drought, yet wild horses and burros continues to reproduce, unabated? Not likely.
    This year’s budget has allocate only enough money for BLM to survey a mere 1/3 of HMAs. But without a doubt, next spring’s population estimate will publish a staggering increase – based on nothing more than calculation.
    Fertility control and on the range spay/neuter programs are big business but I would really appreciate some kind of verification before these animals are rendered sterile, and their populations allowed to disintegrate through attrition.

  5. Sharon Fenderson says:

    Egregious deep pocketed people exterminating the most iconic majestic beauty on our land – horses and burros. Only to rape our lands and install fracking equipment, etc. We are living in serious times where something has to change before it is too late … if it isn’t too late already! These horses and burros are harmless, but man wants to kill them off for their meat!! Such a shame that the human spirit is atrocious and cruel in nature.

  6. rosalind fourton bellman says:

    it’s the ranchers that cull their herds,then gripe about the wild horses.go see the horses that are at canon city colorado prisons.take a good look at them,their beautiful.oh my how did a draft horse get in there???????? (ranchers) do they give them a good home???? they just turn them out to fend for them selfs even though they have been fed daily. TALK ABOUT HOMELESS……. you can bet every one in their family eat every day. GOD forbid any thing like that happen to their family,WHY THAT WOULD BE A REAL SIN NOW,WOULDN’T??????? the pigs that round them up,they would kill their family if enough money was given out. they don’t care they just go on to another job.after all a job is just a job isn’t??????? no i am not angry just yet.

  7. Robynne Catheron says:

    It’s a shame that the BLM now takes orders from the Cattlemen’s Association. It’s a shame that the cattle ranchers couldn’t care less that their cattle are destroying our public lands; trails, meadows and riverbanks devastated almost beyond repair. This complete destruction will take upwards of ten years to recover. Hundreds of cattle congregating to stand and drink at a river do hundreds of times more damage than a few wild horses, who drink and move on. Because wild horses do not fully digest seeds of the forage they eat, they are constantly reseeding the land via their droppings, unlike cattle who completely digest everything they eat, and leave only manure.

    Hikers, backpackers, birdwatchers and campers have documented and photographed the absolute devastation of riverbanks and trails by the thousands of cattle that are free to graze anywhere they like (which We The People pay for, btw), while our wild horses, who are outnumbered by cattle 50-1, are not only restricted by BLM-erected fencing, but are being removed by the thousands at the whim of a few greedy cattle ranchers who want ALL the public land for grazing their privately-owned livestock.

    It’s obscene that these cattle ranchers get away with this by paying off their Congressmen. Yes, Big Oil and Big Ag also have their grubby hands in this imminent extinction of our wild horses at the taxpayers’ expense, but mark my words, the Cattlemen’s Association is the wild horses’ biggest and most vile enemy.

  8. Robynne Catheron says:

    One more thing. I am fully aware of the HSUS’s involvement and hard push for sterilization of our wild horses, but it’s simply not the solution. In my humble opinion, the ONLY solution that will not only save billions of dollars for the BLM (and us taxpayers), but will also eliminate the destruction of public land, and force livestock ranchers to house and feed their animals on their own private land and stop taking advantage of the government (and us taxpayers) AND restore the wild horses’ Congressionally-mandated public land to the horses (costing us taxpayers virtually nothing). It’s a win-win solution for us taxpayers and the government and especially the wild horses! The only ones who won’t financially benefit are those greedy cattlemen and that felon-turned-helicopter-pilot who earns $600 for every wild horse he rounds up.

    If left alone as nature intended, the population of the wild horses will be managed by natural predation, barring further interference from those aforementioned cattle ranchers, of course.

  9. Deanna Rowan says:

    The sad truth is that the BLM is salivating at the prospect of sending these stockpiled mustangs and burros to slaughter on the pretext that they are saving precious taxpayers’ dollars. Where do you think this blood money (millions, folks) made on the heads of these American icons will really end up? Why can’t anybody get to President Obama to protest what is going on? Follow the money!

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