RTF responds to BLM plans to remove 6,000 wild horses, burros in ’emergency’ roundups

Photo by Meg Frederick

Statement from Return to Freedom: “We are in this tragic position because of the BLM’s failure to implement solutions that have been available for over 20 years,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation. “For nearly 50 years, these horses have had to suffer this management program and the Americans who love them suffer with them.” 

“This is even more tragic because other solutions exist now,” DeMayo continued. “The agency has resisted creating an infrastructure and a culture that could have made a sustainable and effective fertility control program possible. It has rounded up horses year after year while waiting for longer-acting vaccines instead of using the safe, proven and humane fertility control that’s available right now. These sensitive habitats are vulnerable to drought and, knowing this, a national land management agency tasked with the preservation and protection of our wild horses should have been prepared long ago and in a much better position today.”

Return to Freedom will continue to work with diverse stakeholders on the implementation of fertility control programs on the range, increased public-private partnerships and range restoration programs that benefit all wildlife.

The Bureau of Land Management on Monday announced plans to remove more than 6,000 additional wild horses and burros in “emergency” roundups by the end of September.

The agency says that the roundups come in response to “lack of water or forage, or due to impacts from wildfire or disease.” About 1,200 wild horses and burros have already been captured during such emergency actions this year.

“Most emergency gathers will take place in herds where chronic overpopulation has already stretched the available food and water to its limits,” the BLM said in a press release. “Now faced with exceptional drought conditions, these animals are left with very little water or forage to survive the summer and winter, and some have become dependent on unreliable private sources.”

The agency has release a new tentative gather schedule.

The BLM estimated the total wild horse and burro population area on BLM-managed Herd Management Areas across 10 Western states at 86,189 as of March 1, 2021. The agency-set population target is 26,785, a figure RTF believes in arbitrarily low.

TAKE ACTION: Please send a letter urging lawmakers to press BLM on the implementation of humane, proven and safe fertility control that’s readily available right now.