Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting scheduled

By Kaitlyn Miller

©Bureau of Land Management-Utah

On Oct. 2 the Federal Register released a notice of the upcoming Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19 in Grand Junction, Colorado. The meeting will be preceded by a field tour of the Little Book Cliffs Herd Management Area, which is open to limited public attendance on a first-come, first-served basis. A public comment period is also included in the meeting on Oct. 18, from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. Public comments can also be mailed or emailed to the Advisory Board in advance of the meeting. The meeting will be live-streamed, so those interested can watch.

The Advisory Board advises the Secretary of the Interior, the BLM Director, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service on matters pertaining to the management and protection of wild, free-roaming horses and burros on public lands and will make recommendations at the end of the meeting.  During their previous meeting in Sept. 2016, the Advisory Board urged BLM to sell or euthanize unadoptable animals, as directed by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, in order to better manage the growing population.

As of March 2017, there are nearly 73,000 horses and burros on BLM rangelands, which have an ecologically-based “Appropriate Management Level” of under 27,000 individuals. An additional 45,000 are held in off-range facilities, which cost taxpayers about $50 million a year. The growing overpopulation of horses and burros on the western rangelands threatens native wildlife, rangeland ecosystems, and horse and burro health. The concern over this issue has continued to grow in conjunction with the growth of the horse and burro population, spurring a summit to address the issue in August. Additionally at the 24th annual TWS conference, a symposium was held on Wild Horses and Burros: Interactions with Wildlife, Habitats, and Land Managers.

Read TWS’ Issue Statement on Feral Horses and Burros in North America and Fact Sheet on  Effects of an Invasive Species: Feral Horses and Burros.

The Wildlife Society co-chairs the National Horse & Burro Rangeland Management Coalition.

Kaitlyn Miller is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Wildlife Policy and Programs team. Read more of Kaitlyn's articles here.