Tuesday, September 13, 2016

BLM advisory board recommends killing 45,000 wild horses; critic says wild horse numbers inflated

BLM rounds up wild horses in July in Utah.
(Republic photo by Pat Shannahan)
The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, part of the Bureau of Land Management, on Friday recommended euthanizing up to 45,000 wild horses and burros held in captivity if the animals can not be adopted, Brandon Loomis reports for The Arizona Republic. "The program spends the bulk of its money—$49 million of last year's $77 million federal appropriation—to feed and care for horses removed from the range."

BLM's most recent survey, before this spring's foaling season, found 67,000 horses, Loomis writes. Phoenix wild-horse enthusiast Michele Anderson "said she believes the government inflates its counts of horses on the public range to justify removing them and appease cattle ranchers whose cows are in competition for water and forage. The government sometimes reports impossibly high year-to-year increases for individual herds, she said." She told Loomis, "In my opinion there is no overpopulation of horses and burros."

The advisory board passed the proposal 8-1, Loomis writes. The lone dissenting vote came from horse advocate and documentary filmmaker Ginger Kathrens. She told Loomis, "Yes, we saw damaged rangelands. The easy scapegoat has always been wild horses. But wild horses live on just a fraction of the lands that BLM manages and a fraction of the land that livestock graze on."

Still, over population has been a problem, Loomis writes. Robert Cole, an Idaho veterinarian and a member of the advisory board, said "BLM has set the appropriate horse and burro population at about 26,000 across the West, but the existing numbers may be triple that." Of the animals available for adoption, only 2,331 horses and 300 burros were adopted last year. (Read more)

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