BLM Taking Comments on New Wild Horse and Burro Management Plans

Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

-Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971

At the end of February, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its Proposed Strategy for Future Management of Wild Horses and Burros in an effort to fast-track reform of their wild horse and burro program.

It’s a nice way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, which was established to ensure wild horses and burros a place on our public lands and granted them protection on 53.5 million acres of land managed by the BLM and the Forest Service. Since then, they’ve lost 19.2 million acres due to new laws, regulations and land use planning decisions. See also: welfare ranching and Big Oil. 

Numerous suggestions have been made in previous public comment sessions, some of which include letting horses self-regulate their populations, reallocating land for their use, removing livestock grazing permits and providing food and water in the wild in the event of an emergency. There were also conflicting opinions about the use of preserves, some felt it was the same as long-term holding. Others suggested euthanizing excess and unadoptable horses or selling them without limitation. 

While the BLM does appear to be attempting to make some changes in a positive direction, they still plan on removing an additional 32,800 wild horses from the land over the next five years, which would bring the number of horses in holding to over 50,000, almost twice the amount of animals left on the range.

The proposed strategy is also expected to cost $76 million annually over the next four years. Their new plans call for increased fertility control, an increase the demand for wild horses to boost adoptions (despite the fact that there is already an excess of domestic horses), developing an animal welfare program, exploring eco-tourism, establishing cost effective sanctuaries and using social media for public outreach.

Soon, you too can be friends with the BLM on Facebook.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) will also perform a review of previous management studies and make recommendations on how the BLM should proceed. However, the study will not be done until 2013. Many people, including members of Congress, have requested a moratorium on roundups until the study is finished, but the BLM says that’s not feasible as populations will spiral out of control. However, previous NAS studies have found that the BLM is using population growth estimates that are double the actual number.

The NAS study will also examine whether horses can self-regulate by natural means and predation, although predators are fairly scarce thanks to development, hunting and Wildlife Services.

Some organizations still don’t think the BLM is doing enough to protect horses in the wild or to save money. Public outcry over the disruption of herd dynamics and the use of helicopters to round up horses also had no effect. They consider this to be a perfectly acceptable method to “gather” horses and burros despite chasing them to the point of collapse and running them on frozen ground hard enough to tear off their hooves off, which some people consider to be blatant animal cruelty. 

“It seems that BLM has not yet gotten the message that taxpayers can no longer afford this mass mustang removal scheme. In reality, the BLM has at its disposal the tools necessary to keep wild horses on the range, where taxpayers do not have to pay to feed and care for them. These tools include the ability to adjust the resource allocations and stop prioritizing private livestock grazing over wild horses on the small percent of BLM lands designated as wild horse and burro habitat,” stated the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

“Americans want our wild horses and burros to remain free in the wild with their families. We know there is no immediate danger to them on the range, as the horses being rounded up are fit and healthy, not starving as BLM would have us believe.”

Various organizations are now calling for the BLM to step up their plans by asking them to increase transparency even more, stop roundups and readjust forage allocations, reducing livestock grazing and cooperating with non-profits, among other things. 


The BLM is taking public comments until March 30. 

Please take a minute to weigh in on the options for future wild horse and burro management with suggestions to improve their plans or send an email directly to with “Comments on the Strategy” in the subject line. 



Related Stories: 

BLM Crushes Pickens’ Plans for Wild Horse Sanctuary

Mare Collapses in Latest Wild Horse Roundup

Federal Aerial Roundup Kills 9 Mustangs in Nevada


Carrie Anne Brown

Thanks for sharing this article =]

Nancy Babcock
Nancy Babcock6 years ago

The BLM needs to go! It is the most corrupt and fraudulent agency on earth and has never correctly "managed" the wild horses and burros. The BLM wants the wild horses and burros gone--plain and simple.

They need to be removed as "managers" of any living thing. the BLM has no respect for any animal unless it is a cow or a sheep destined for slaughter--and then they see that animal as money--the only thing they consider to be valuable.

The BLM must be removed from power if we hope to have any wildlife left on our range land, but that probably won't happen as Big Money Energy Interests are already taking over the corporate cattle ranchers' former role. Horses, burros, wolves, anything that moves is being removed, when the real thing that needs removal is the BLM itself.

Kathleen D.
Kathleen D6 years ago

Unfortunately, the rich ranchers that are granted leasing rights on taxpayer land is hurting species such as wolves, coyotes, prairie dogs, mountain lions, bears, and wild horses. A great many of these ranchers assert that it is their right to do whatever they must to protect their livestock and if that means killing, trapping, poaching or any other underhanded method of eliminating the 'problem', they will do so with or without taking legal steps. The BLM as well as other political departments and politicians also listen to anyone who effectively has clout and will screw the average taxpayer to give the rich what they want. Again, even though I interject the political into some of my posts it is only because we need to make sure that these animals get representation by continuing to speak out, make calls, write letters and last but not least; vote your conscience and not your stocks and dividends.

Barbara S.

I have written many, many times to the BLM and signed numerous letters, petitions etc. all to no avail. These horses belong to all of us and the BLM is controlled by the Cattle industry. If we don't take control and force the BLM to stop the MURDER by whatever means necessary it will continue. Words no longer work!!!!

colleen p.
colleen p6 years ago

the ice age and paleo-Indians killed off the horses, white man fixed this issue.

so we need to continue having horses in North America.

Dan B.
Dan Brook6 years ago

The best way to honor and protect animals EVERYDAY is to not eat them.

Fight cruelty with your fork; have compassion on your plate; increase social justice with every meal.

For more info about the *many* benefits of vegetarianism (and the many problems with the production and consumption of meat), please visit (and share)

Eco-Eating at

Bette M.
Bette M6 years ago

Cheryl B.......Maybe all these comments here should be printed out & mailed to the BLM or Salazar.

Obama should kick this Salazar to the curb & get someone who cares more for the animals & land than lining their pockets with paper lettuce.

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life in 2011...........
Trees are the lungs of the earth.......

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B6 years ago

BLM wouldn't want to hear OUR comments!

Karen Nelson
m nielsen6 years ago

Horses evolved on this continent; cattle did not. I used to live in one of the areas being cleared of horses. The absence of the horses is going to cause the free-loading cattle ranchers lots of problems. My experience has been that the ranchers put as many cattle on the range as they think they can get away with, ruining the vegetation so that no animals ultimately can survive, even cattle. The longer the cattle are there, the worse the damage; it will take years to regenerate the plant life and maybe that will never happen. These ranchers pay the government a miniscule amount to rent our public lands; esentially using the lands and their accompanying forage for free. I say get the non-native cattle off the range and leave the horses alone.

Doug G.
Doug G6 years ago

The carrying capacity of these lands aren't that good. Yet, the federal government does little to keep cattle off areas, where wildlife depend to placate ranchers.
Such is the case with bison around Yellowstone N.P. These issues should have been cleared up years ago, but no one I have ever heard about is suggesting the repel of the 1936 Taylor Grazing Act and other antiquated efforts, that would give wild animals a better chance for survival. Being in the 21st century does not guarantee the mental progression of governmental officials, unfortunately.