Everyone wearing blinders when it comes to solution to wild horse overpopulation

This wild mare and foal were among a group of mustangs removed from a range in Nevada last year because they were starving. (BLM photo)

The Bureau of Land Management put out a press release Monday saying something needs to be done about the excessive number of wild horses and burros on the open range in the West, pointing out the number of these once domestic animals has grown by two and a half times the number estimated to be in existence when the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed in 1971 and exceeds the number the range can sustain by 40,000.

There are already 46,000 wild horses and burros in off-range pens and pastures at a cost of $50,000 per animal over its lifetime — a cost of $2.3 billion just for the ones already being warehoused. The press release said the agency plans to roundup another 3,500 wild horses and burros this year, a drop in the bucket when it comes to curbing overpopulation which grew by more than 8,000 in the past year alone — another $175 million for care and feeding at taxpayer expense.

“Over the past seven years we have doubled the amount of funding used for managing our nation’s wild horses and burros,” BLM Director Neil Kornze is quoted as saying. “Despite this, major shifts in the adoption market and the absence of a long-term fertility control drug have driven population levels higher. A number of program reforms are underway, but assistance is needed from our local, state, and federal partners.” 

A decade ago the BLM was adopting out 8,000 mustangs a year but that number has fallen to 2,500.

The press release goes on to say the BLM is taking a number of steps to address the problem, including sponsoring a significant research program focused on fertility control. The press release, inconveniently enough, comes two days after the BLM ended a fertility control experiment in the Pine Nut Range near Gardnerville because some animal rights group threatened to sue.

The release also mentions moving horses from corrals to more cost-effective pastures and working to increase adoptions.

Of course, the BLM’s statements were immediately attacked as false by one those self-styled animal rights groups. The head of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Suzanne Roy, said, “The BLM’s claims of wild horse overpopulation are grossly exaggerated and designed to dupe the public into accepting the continued costly, cruel and unsustainable roundup, removal and stockpiling program. We don’t have an excess wild horse problem, we have a federal mismanagement problem.”

But nowhere does the BLM or anyone else for that matter address a solution that was written into the original 1971 wild horse law. That law states any excess unadoptable horses or burros are “to be destroyed in the most humane and cost efficient manner possible.” In a silly budget busting provision it also says none of the “remains may be sold or transferred for consideration for processing into commercial products.” What’s the point of that?

Lest you conclude the BLM is flouting the law, it should be noted that this inscrutable Congress also says in the bill appropriating money for the Interior Department for 2015-16: “Prohibits appropriations provided by this bill from being used for: (1) the destruction of healthy, unadopted, wild horses and burros in the care of the BLM or its contractors, or (2) the sale of wild horses and burros that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.”

Congress won’t spend the money to manage the horses or reduce their numbers.

The governor of Nevada has threatened to sue over the mismanagement of wild horses, which threatens to cut grazing rights for ranchers and damages the habitat for other native species.

Everyone insists on humane treatment for these invasive species but never seems to recognize that overpopulation leads to problems with the animals finding adequate grazing and water — which in itself is inhumane.

WHB chart

More than half the excess wild horses and burros are on federal and in Nevada. AML stands for appropriate management level or the number of animals the range can sustain. The number in are added to the press release chart.




35 comments on “Everyone wearing blinders when it comes to solution to wild horse overpopulation

  1. Rez says:

    Introduce some wolves; that’ll solve the problem. If you have trouble finding some, we here in Montana have extras we’ll share.

  2. Would not be good for calves and lambs, though.

  3. John Gordon Edwards says:

    I cannot comprehend what goes through these peoples’ minds. Why is it inhumane to neuter wild horses? Pets are neutered.
    I guess these groups prefer to see the non-native wild horses rounded up and shot, or maybe it’s OK for them starve from overpopulation.

  4. Patrick says:

    Leave the horses alone.

    The problem is the ranchers. But for their greed to feed at the public trough, there never would have been any law about “excess” wild horses to begin with.

  5. Patrick says:

    And while I’m at it, here’s a link showing some of the majesty of the wild horses in Nevada. Rather than the propaganda shot Thomas chose here.


  6. Patrick says:

    1 horse every 500 acres is overpopulation? According to the ranchers that want to have their lives subsidized (which is what the round ups, penning, care and feeding by the BLM, along with the grazing privileges for their cows is) that’s 1 too many.


  7. You have no idea how sparse the forage is.

  8. Patrick says:

    That is true Thomas. But I know who, and what, are behind these round-ups, the penning, the feeding, and most importantly, the want of taxpayer subsidized grazing.

  9. Steve says:

    If Patrick had his way this is what he would force everyone to eat!
    Specially the “green” version….


  10. Rincon says:

    With the lack of predators, why would the horses not multiply until they begin to starve if man does nothing?

  11. Steve says:

    See, what we should do is the same thing they did with forest land in California.

    nothing. no clean up of underbrush, put out all fires and let the fuel build to extreme proportions.

    It’s totally natural for nature to starve an overpopulation, we should let them all starve to death….or prove Patricks photo’s are reality rather than professionally retouched, photoshopped pieces of artwork that they are.

    But humans shouldn’t intervene in any natural process…….because humans aren’t part of any natural process.

    Enjoy the soylent!

  12. Patrick says:

    I have to say though, that it is…ironic, that the same agency ranchers, and some of their militant supporters, seem to love to hate, is the same agency that works on their behalf to keep wild horses from living on public land.

    Even when it means brutalizing these beautiful creatures, so that ranchers and belly up to the public trough.

  13. Taxpayers are not subsidizing grazing. There is no comparison in value between private grazing land that is kept up and untouched public land.

  14. Patrick says:

    Come on Thomas. If public grazing wasn’t a better deal, then why are ranchers utilizing it? Heck, some of them are willing to fight for it, and, according to others, without it, they can’t even exist.

    If that isn’t a subsidy, then there is no such thing.

  15. In Nevada there is not enough private land. Public land is the only option.

  16. Patrick says:

    Guess that makes the public land option REALLY valuable then. So, why “sell” it at prices so low? Why not offer it to the highest bidder? Maybe the government ought to take a page from those free market companies the ranchers would undoubtedly support (at least in theory or in front of the cameras) like the drug company who charged $100,000 per prescription because the patients either bought it or died, even though the pills cost pennies to make.

    If the ranchers aren’t paying market rates, then their being subsided.

  17. dee21701 says:

    “it’s public land, which they lease at a taxpayer subsidized discount of 1/12th the market rate to graze their private livestock on.”

  18. Connie Foust says:

    I could not agree with you more. Over 20 years ago we adopted two horses from the BLM program while still living in Montana. We had other horses and land and there was room for two that we just wanted to let live out their lives. When we adopted them, one was so starved and weak that she fell to her knees. Frankly, I love horses, have owned them most of my adult life and in the case of trucking them in the condition they were in all the way to Montana for adoption was cruel. Some adopters where there just to sell them to rendering or to use as pack horses. Thewhole thing was disgusting. So I ask you tendered hearted libs, how much does a horse have to starve and suffer before you feel good about euthanasia? Our two were lucky as were a few others, but on the whole it was a failed program then as it is now.

  19. Patrick says:

    I’d ask any hard hearted cons, how many horses have to starve and suffer so that millionaire ranchers can continue to have welfare payments made by the American public, so that some of them can continue to turn around and claim that the American public, and their government, don’t even exist or have any authority over the lands they own?

  20. Steve says:

    So, in Patricks’s world, one persons behavior colors the whole group.

    Now, where have I read or heard something very similar to that before…..hmmm?

  21. Thanks for those beautiful pictures of Nevada’s wild horses…I’m with you on this one!

  22. Patrick…thanks for the link to those beautiful pictures of Nevada’s wild horses…I’m with you on this one…a proud horse hugger!

  23. Patrick says:

    Thanks HFB!

    They are beautiful creatures.

  24. Connie Foust says:

    Patrick, you had a lot to say, and I suspect you have never owned a horse and have no knowledge of the amount of grazing that it takes for one animal not to mention the ove-populated herds. You speak from the touchy feely side and not the common sense side of management. These animals are starving so should we just let them all starve so you feel good about yourself. Man up and understand the BLM has mismanaged this whole program for over 20 years. If you want to protect the wild horse you must have a healthy herd and right now that is not the case so hard choices have to made. It’s life Patrick, not some dream of how life should be. As mentioned before one of the horses we adopted was on her knees close to death. okay we adopted her and saved her from the BLM in spite of themselves.

  25. Steve says:

    Connie, Patrick doesn’t care about horses.
    All Patrick wants to do is chase off all the ranchers.
    After all, all he did was find a bunch of photoshopped print worthy art to make his claims.

    And, at least one person fell for it!

    To have healthy herds, population control is an unavoidable must have.

  26. As someone who has owned horses…including a beautiful gelded mustang named Scooter, I would think reality lies somewhere between both sets of photographs. One thing that IS evident…most anything the BLM tries to manage…turns into a major fuster cluck. I hope cooler heads prevail…and that all interested parties can come together and forge real solutions to remedy this growing tragedy.

  27. Steve says:

    The horses my friends own and owned were also well cared for and loved.

    This is not true for the ferals, they have to find their own forage. If the truth is a desire for healthy beautiful herds of feral horses, then population control is mandatory.
    You see, I call them feral because that is what they are. Horses are not native to this land and they really have no natural predators here.
    The picture Mitch used comes from one of the BLM pens, most likely soon after being rounded up. This is because the strong ones would be able to avoid roundup.

  28. Oh contraire…”the natural predators of wild horses are humans, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, and bears. These predators prey upon the old, the sick, and colts or foals.” Also…apparently they ARE native to North America: “Horses belong to the genus Equus, which originated in North America about 4 million years ago and spread to Eurasia (presumably by crossing the Bering land bridge) 2 to 3 million years ago. The last prehistoric North American horses died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene, but by then Equus had spread to Asia, Europe, and Africa.”
    “After the Spaniards re-introduced horses to the Americas, the Native Americans soon used these beasts for transportation. Pioneers liked these horses because they have fantastic stamina and speed. Plus, their stockier legs make them less prone to injury, making them ideal for long journeys. Since then, mustangs have been bred with French or thoroughbred horses.”

    We are in agreement about some sort of population control being necessary for healthy, vibrant herds in the wild.

  29. Steve says:

    OK, horses were a “do over” by Gaia!
    And I like the list has humans first…we certainly are, currently, abusing the hell out those we actually capture….

  30. The BLM is…but I consider some of them sub-human.

  31. […] over 20 years. The HSUS stands ready to implement these alternatives at any time.” There are an estimated 70,000 wild horses and burros on the open range, 40,000 more than the range can handle, and that number […]

  32. […] over 20 years. The HSUS stands ready to implement these alternatives at any time.” There are an estimated 70,000 wild horses and burros on the open range, 40,000 more than the range can handle, and that number […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s