BLM’s numbers don’t add up for wild horses, burros

A family band of wild horses on the Sand Wash Basin Herd Management Area. Photo by Meg Frederick.

The Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro roundup schedule amounts to more than numbers arranged in rows.
Released this week, the BLM’s updated schedule shows the federal agency removed 4,245 wild horses and burros from our public lands over the past year.
That number stands for 4,245 members of wild horse family or bachelor bands and herds torn away from all that they have known, sorted by age and gender, then shipped in semi tractor-trailers to overcrowded government corrals or leased pastures.
Of those later sold or adopted, an unknown number will wind up in the foreign slaughter pipeline.
Here’s another number: 62.
That’s the number of mares and jennies that the BLM treated with fertility control over the same span.
Return to Freedom strongly advocates for the use of safe, proven and humane fertility control to slow (not stop) herd growth.
Population modeling has shown that treating and releasing mares and jennies with fertility control alongside any removal that BLM conducts is the only way to catch up with and stabilize herd growth so that on-range management can replace removals.
Yet, as its schedule shows, the BLM continues to emphasize capture-and-removal, putting off fertility control use while also failing to reach the agency’s own wild horse population targets.
Out of an agency-estimated 141,000 wild horses and burros for which the BLM is charged with overseeing, a staggering 58,000 now live not on the range but warehoused in corrals or leased pastures.