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BLM report lays out horse management options

Written by Saige

A report to Congress from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) titled “Management Options for a Sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program” laid out four concrete alternatives to decrease the number of on-range horses by 69 percent over the next six to 12 years. 

“If wild horse and burro populations continue to expand, the impacts to animal and plant species will grow more severe across even larger swaths of the Western public rangelands,” according to BLM’s report.

BLM proposes decreasing horse populations from 86,000 wild horses and burros to the appropriate management level (AML) of 26,715 horses by 2030 at the latest. 

The four options include a mix of sale, fertility control, sterilization and adoption. 

Under option one, BLM would attain AML in eight years by using all legal authorities, including sale of horses without restriction, euthanasia, contraceptives, sterilization and adoption. 

Option two provides for AML within 10 years using birth control, such as Porcine Zona Pellucida treatments and minimal permanent sterilization. At the same time, the option would include increased costs for holding facilities.

The third alternative would achieve AML in six years using “an aggressive removal operation, in conjunction with sterilization of 3,000 mares and stallions gathered annually. The option also includes an incentive of up to $1,000 to adopt horses. 

Finally, the four option would achieve AML in 12 years through sterilization and adoption incentives. 

Look for a more in-depth discussion of BLM’s report to Congress in next week’s Roundup.