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Counting Wild Horses

Counting Wild Horses

Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service officials are working on a new count of wild horses in Nevada and Oregon. A joint aerial census of four million acres of federal land began Monday. The primary survey area is around the Sheldon and Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuges.

A conservation organization cautioned an independent survey is also needed because they say the federal government has a tendency to overestimate the population of wild horses. Reportedly the overestimate is done intentionally to justify the habitual roundups of wild mustangs that have been taking place.

The numbers matter because to some ranchers and sheepherders the horses take up land they could use, and eat plants their livestock could have. To conservationists and animals lovers they are magnificent creatures and symbolic of an ever-diminishing wilderness.

A study by the U.S. Government Accounting Office reported, “Wild horse behavior patterns make them somewhat less damaging than cattle to especially vulnerable range areas.”

The BLM’s approach has been criticized for overzealousness. Just recently the FBI received a complaint from a Nevada citizen. The complaint resulted from the BLM’s removal of nearly 2,000 wild mustangs from lands in Nevada. Apparently they said they left 600-900 of the wild animals in the area, but the local citizen said there weren’t nearly that many remaining.

The BLM says they are in compliance with the law. “The program is intended to reduce what they consider an overpopulation of wild horses that is harming not only the environmental health of the range and wildlife species, but the horses themselves,” a BLM official said.

It would seem both rational and logical that an independent count would be needed, because it appears the BLM believes the horses are a danger to the lands. Such a belief would seem to only lead to overestimating, in order to remove as many wild horses as possible.

Image Credit: Kjell

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11:45PM PDT on May 15, 2013


12:21AM PST on Feb 23, 2013

Wonderful, thanks for info!

9:12AM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

Is there someting more beautiful and free than wild horses?

12:23AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Thank you so much for this article

2:35PM PDT on Jun 3, 2012

Thanks for the info.

12:18PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

Thank you for the info. The fact is I thinik wild horses belong where they are.

8:33PM PDT on Nov 1, 2011

Be careful BLM, make sure the count is accurate and not done by a group who is affiliated with cattle/sheep ranchers.
Yes, I too think that there should be a CATTLE count too.... not that that would do any good, other than insite more outrage over removal of Mustangs vs cattle.

9:53AM PDT on Sep 6, 2011

Wild horses belong right where they are!

5:19AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Thanks for the article.

2:35PM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

As a responsible horse owner who owns a wild mustang I get really upset about the way they are handled. They are a natural resource and should be treated as such.

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