Call for comments: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has opened a comment period to hear public input concerning the management of wild horses in Wyoming’s Great Divide Basin by Friday, January 10, 2014. You may contact the BLM by mail or email with your thoughts; please be courteous.

The BLM’s current plans to manage wild horses in Wyoming’s Great Divide involve the following:

  • Round-up 164 wild horses from the Basin’s Herd Management Area (HMA);
  • Relocate some of those horses to north of the Wyoming Checkerboard (where more than half of Wyoming’s remaining wild horses roam); and
  • Under a court-granted 2013 Consent Decree, to remove additional horses who live within the Checkerboard to a reduced population of only 415 animals.

The Rock Springs Grazing Association continues to assert that there is an overpopulation of wild horses on these public lands while they monopolize the grazing resources in the Great Divide Basin Herd Management Area (HMA), subsidized by our tax dollars. Their lawsuits against the BLM have been a convenient ploy for the BLM to systematically remove wild horse herds in the entire region. In fact, just in 2011, the Association sued the BLM, resulting in the capture and removal of 1,000 horses from this HMA.

In its effort to eliminate wild horses in southern Wyoming, the BLM is, again, ignoring the letter of wild horse protection laws by seeking to remove wild horses even though the population of the herd is within the Appropriate Management Level (AML) established by the BLM!

The BLM set the AML (Appropriated Management Level) in the Great Divide Basin HMA at 415-600 wild horses. After the removal of 1000 horses in 2011, 439 wild horses remained and called the HMA their home as of May 2013. This number, now estimated to be 504 — is still well-within the management level set by the BLM. Despite population growth predictions to just 579 wild horses expected by the summer of 2014, the BLM is determined to rid the Great Divide Basin of its free-roaming wild horses.

Return to Freedom’s position is that this roundup is an unnecessary and economically irresponsible use of our tax dollars. The zeroing out of this treasured herd is an assault to the American taxpayers who want the horses to remain protected and preserved on this range as defined by the intent of the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act.

The Great Divide Basin Wild Horses. Photo courtesy Pam Nikoles Photography.

The Great Divide Basin Wild Horses. Photo courtesy Pam Nickoles Photography.

Return to Freedom encourages you to respectfully contact the BLM with your suggestions and comments regarding this round-up and to instead offer viable, sustainable, and economical solutions to managing wild horses on our public lands. Rounding up more wild horses to appease special interests simply places more horses into long-term captivity and threatens thousands of horses each year with slaughter when their stays of execution expire.

Below are some herd management strategies that we think will prove successful to manage wild horse populations on the range, when used appropriately:

  • Increase aggressive in-field use of Native PZP or PZP 22, a widely used and reversible fertility drug that controls conception in wild animals, including elephants, deer, and wild horses (in mares over one year of age). The natural world is managed by predators; they are essential components of healthy ecosystems (including taxpayer-funded public lands that are home to wild horses), but until we see the day when predator-killing programs are eliminated, the least invasive tools available to us to manage horse populations on their ranges are Native PZP or PZP 22;
  • Maintain integrity of natural family and social bands; maintain natural sex ratio. Sex ratio skewing (releasing more stallions than mares) historically has not resulted in reduced reproduction. Interference with the natural order has resulted in unbalanced herd dynamics, bachelor stallions wandering off their range, increased fighting, and decline in mares’ health;
  • Eliminate the use of motorized vehicles; helicopter roundups are expensive, dangerous, cruel, and fracture family bands and negatively impact natural social order, behaviors, and the health and well-being of the herds;
  • Humanely bait or water trap intact social bands — which increases the success of ‘on the range management’ while reducing trauma and injuries to horses;
  • Relocate wild horses in their original family and bachelor bands from a region to other HMAs where wild horse populations are lower still;
  • Reduce AML (Appropriated Management Level) for livestock in wild horse HMAs; reduce livestock grazing and increase horse AML in wild horse HMAs while increasing use of Native PZP or PZP 22;
  • Offer livestock permitees tax credits or other incentives to reduce use of livestock AUMs (forage allocated to sustain an Animal Unit per Month), making them available to horses on the HMA;
  • Offer livestock permitees grazing lease extensions in exchange for reducing livestock AUMs which will be made available to the horses.

The original intent of the Free-Roaming Wild Horse & Burro Act of 1971 set aside 306 Herd Management Areas for wild horses; today less than 200 exist; wild horses belong to the American public — not to private corporations, organizations, or individuals — and the American public has repeatedly made it known that it wants wild horses on its public lands, not in private ownership brought on by costly, dangerous, and cruel round-ups, or in long-term holding facilities paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Please email your comments by Friday, January 10, 2014 to and use “Divide Basin Scoping Comments” in the subject line.

Or mail or hand-deliver your response to:

BLM Rock Springs Field Office
Attn: Jay D’Ewart
280 Highway 191 North
Rock Springs, WY 82901

Click here to read and/or use a well-thought out Sample Letter, courtesy of our wonderful team at the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC)!



About the Great Divide Basin HMA (AWHPC)

The Great Divide Basin HMA (BLM)

2011 Environmental Assessment (BLM)

2011 Daily Gather Reports (BLM)

On Wyoming’s Range, Water is Scarce, but Welfare is Plenty (The Atlantic)

Federal Court Sanctions Gov’t Plan to Eliminate Wild Horses from Wyoming Checkerboard (AWHPC)