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BLM plans emergency gather

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

In August, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a plan to capture wild horses and burros in the western part of the country. The announcement of an emergency gather comes in response to severe drought conditions across the region.  

A press release from the agency states, “The BLM estimates more than 6,000 additional wild horses and burros should be gathered from public lands by the end of September through emergency actions, which can be taken in response to lack of water or forage, or due to impacts from wildfire or disease.” 

Over-utilized rangelands 

According to the BLM, the reason for this emergency gathering is to prevent the overpopulation of wild horses and burros. Western states have struggled through drought, and rangeland resources are stretched thin in terms of forage and water. 

The BLM states, “Now faced with exceptional drought conditions, these animals are left with very little water or forage to survive the summer and winter, and some have become dependent on unreliable private sources.” 

The BLM reported a total of 86,000 animals on BLM-managed public lands as of March 1, 2021. However, this approximation is three times the number of wild horses and burros the land can sustain.  

In Wyoming, there are 16 BLM-managed herds which span nearly five million acres. The wild horse and burro population is estimated at 3,735.  

BLM Deputy Director of Policy and Programs Nada Wolff Culver states in a BLM press release, “We are committed to continuing our efforts to reduce overpopulation across the West and achieve healthy, sustainable herd sizes that are more capable of withstanding severe conditions, including prolonged drought, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change.” 

 “In some herds, the BLM has already started hauling supplemental water as a temporary measure before an emergency gather can take place,” BLM continues, noting previous efforts to support healthy wild horse populations. 

BLM action for horse health 

BLM will be gathering horses throughout the fall months and will be taking appropriate action to rescue the animals, according to the agency.  

“Wild horses and burros gathered through these emergency actions will be checked by a veterinarian, vaccinated against common equine diseases and made available to the public for adoption,” the BLM shares. “BLM is taking additional steps to secure the health and safety of adopted wild horses and burros through the Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Incentive Program.” 

The goal of the adoption program is to provide horses a new home off of rangelands and a chance for good health.  

“I encourage anyone who is capable of caring for one of these living legends to consider giving one a loving home,” Wolff Culver said. “These are incredible animals that deserve a chance to thrive with a caring adopter.” 

BLM shares, “Unadopted animals will eventually be transferred to private pastures where they will live out their lives in a free-roaming environment, but at cost to taxpayers.” 

Savannah Peterson is an intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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