BLM to remove fewer mustangs across West this summer; 200 in Utah

By Martin Griffith, Associated Press

Published: Sun, July 13, 2014, 12:00 a.m. MDT

 In this Jan. 19, 2012 file photo, A wild stallion runs for freedom after jumping over the fence of a holding area during a wild horse roundup in the Clan Alpine Range in Fallon, Nev., about 120 miles east of Reno, Nev.

In this Jan. 19, 2012 file photo, A wild stallion runs for freedom after jumping over the fence of a holding area during a wild horse roundup in the Clan Alpine Range in Fallon, Nev., about 120 miles east of Reno, Nev.

(Associated Press)

RENO, Nev. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says it will remove fewer wild horses and burros from the range across the West this summer because of budget constraints and overflowing holding pens.

Under its roundup schedule announced this week, the bureau plans to gather 2,400 of the animals through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. All but 215 of them will be horses.

Plans call for removal of 1,535 horses in Wyoming, 285 in Nevada, 200 in Utah, 75 in Oregon, 50 in California and 35 in Idaho. The bureau also plans to gather 140 burros in Arizona, 50 in California and 25 in Oregon.

The announcement comes at a time when the bureau has been under increasing pressure from Western ranchers to step up removal of horses they say threaten livestock and wildlife on drought-ravaged rangelands.

The bureau estimates 40,600 of the animals — the vast majority of them horses — roam free on public rangelands in 10 Western states. The population exceeds by some 14,000 the number the agency has determined can exist in balance with other rangeland resources and uses.

Bureau officials said aggravating the situation is severe drought that has resulted in reduced forage for the animals. The agency also faces limits on the number of horses and burros it can remove because holding facilities are at capacity. Some 49,000 of the animals are being held in government-funded short- and long-term facilities.

Removal of fewer mustangs from the range "will exacerbate the difficult challenges we face in nearly every aspect of the wild horse program right now," BLM officials said in a statement.

But the bureau's actions contradict recommendations of an independent panel of the National Academy of Sciences released last year, said Deniz Bolbol, spokeswoman for the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

In a report, the panel said the bureau should invest in widespread fertility control of the mustangs instead of spending millions to house them. It concluded the bureau's removal of nearly 100,000 horses from the Western range over the past decade is probably having the opposite effect of its intention to ease ecological damage and reduce overpopulated herds.

"The BLM already warehouses more wild horses in holding facilities than remain free in the wild," Bolbol said in a statement. "The agency's plan to remove thousands more mustangs and burros from the range makes no ecological, scientific or fiscal sense."

Horse defenders also dispute the bureau's position that mustangs are overpopulating the West. They say the vast majority of forage on the range is being allocated to privately-owned livestock, and public rangelands are being overrun by livestock instead.

"The hyper-focus on mustang numbers is a concerted effort to scapegoat wild horses and distract attention away from the massive level of livestock grazing that is occurring on our public lands," said Suzanne Roy, director of the AWHPC.

After removing horses from the range, the bureau places them in short-term corrals until they're either adopted or shipped to government-funded pastures in the Midwest where they spend the rest of their lives.

1. GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA,
July 13, 2014

So the BLM is strapped for cash huh?

Maybe it's time to collect the rent from the likes of Cliven Bundy and his fellow "Conservatives," who think they deserve a free ride at the expense of America and Americans.

2. cedarpost
Washington, Utah,
July 13, 2014

Heck they should be removing 2400 of em in southern utah alone, not in the entire west.

3. greatbam22
andrews afb, MD,
July 13, 2014


Way to stereotype. Nice job! Keep the great comments coming along!

4. Lillian
Fall River, SD,
July 13, 2014

If no one wants to adopt the horses at the holding corrals, maybe they should be put down like they do dogs and cats at animal shelters. After they have been there for a certain length of time and no one wants to adopt them and the wild horse people don't seem to want them, either.

5. Diana Kline
Kansas City, MO,
July 14, 2014

It's time to get things back in balance again. I'm glad to see that fewer horses and burros will be gathered. It would be nice if none were gathered and they were sustained out on the range. Lillian, people do want to adopt but the BLM adoption process is cumbersome. They recently had an internet adoption and chose to have it over the 4th of July weekend and end the application sign up Monday morning after the holiday. People didn't get assigned numbers that were trying to bid, and there was no follow-up to get people approved and ready for the next adoption event. That said, we have too few on the range as it is, and I'm glad they will not be gathering as many. Our wild horses and burros should be left in the wild.