TWS and partners support BLM’s horse and burro removal

By Cassie Ferri

The BLM’s plan to remove wild horses and burros from western rangelands will greatly improve the ecosystem and biodiversity, TWS says. Credit: Jessie Pluim/Bureau of Land Management

The Wildlife Society, along with the 33 other organizations in the American Wildlife Conservation Partners coalition, sent a letter of support to the Bureau of Land Management for its increased use of gathers and fertility control for wild horse and burro management.

Currently, there are an estimated 86,000 wild horses and burros on public rangelands; a population that exceeds the BLM’s ecologically determined management levels by over 320%. The BLM recently announced a commitment to gather and sterilize 22,000 wild horses and burros across the western U.S. in coming years.

The coalition’s letter to the BLM expresses support for the prioritization of significant and frequent horse and burro population reduction efforts amidst recent challenges to the BLM’s management plan.

“Wildlife habitat is declining in quality across many areas in the West due to the explosion of wild horse and burro populations, impacts that are being exacerbated by warmer and drier conditions as well as non-native invasive plants,” the coalition wrote in its letter. “To achieve ecological balance—and  to  conserve and  restore ‘America the Beautiful’—wild  horses  and burros must be managed at appropriate management levels to reduce impacts to native ecosystems.”

The Wildlife Society has regularly advocated for federal agencies to reduce free-roaming horse and burro populations on public lands. As non-native invasive species, horses and burros compete with native wildlife and can cause damage to resources and habitat.

“Horses and burros greatly exceed ecologically based management objectives, causing damage to public lands and wildlife throughout the West,” said Keith Norris, director of wildlife policy and communication for The Wildlife Society. “We are encouraged by the progress that the BLM has made in their efforts to reduce populations of the ecologically feral species. As the BLM moves forward with free-roaming horse and burro management, we will advocate for continued and robust action.”

For more information on this topic, check out TWS’ issue statement on Feral Horses and Burros in North America and watch the Horse Rich and Dirt Poor documentary film.


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