Davis, California - The nation’s largest wild horse and burro advocacy group, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), criticized the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for its just-released plan to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to round up 3,565 federally-protected wild horses and burros from public lands this summer and fall. AWHC called the plan a continuation of the same “business as usual practices” that the National Academy of Sciences called “expensive and unproductive for the BLM and the public it serves.”
“In most cases, the BLM is removing wild horses from public lands to make room for commercial livestock grazing, then sending taxpayers the bill for the roundups and the federal subsidies given to public lands ranchers,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director of AWHC. “Far more cost-effective options exist for managing wild horses on the small amount of public lands designated as their habitat. These include reductions in subsidized livestock grazing; maintaining larger, more sustainable wild horse populations; and managing those populations, where necessary, with scientifically recommended birth control.”
According to the schedule, the BLM has no plans to utilize fertility control and instead will focus entirely on roundups this summer and fall. AWHC said that the BLM spends 68% of its budget to round up wild horses from public lands and warehouse them in holding facilities, while less than one percent is spent on humane fertility control.
AWHC noted that all of the horses removed in the summer/fall 2019 roundups will be sent to feed-lot like holding facilities at a cost to taxpayers of more than $5 per horse per day. In 2016, the Office of Inspector General found that the BLM was wasting taxpayer dollars by stockpiling horses in expensive short term holding pens. AWHC also noted that the BLM under-reports roundup-related deaths by failing to reveal the number of deaths that occur in the holding pens in weeks and months after horses are captured and removed from the wild.