Speak Up For Wildlife in Nevada

More than 100,000 predator animals native to the land are shot, trapped, snared, poisoned and killed in dens every year by programs authorized by the federal government.  

Animals that are being erased from the landscape as the human population increases include mountain lions, coyotes, bears and wolves whose job is to keep nature in balance. The justification for killing these animals is that grazing livestock need public lands, which commercial producers can get at below-market rates.

In 2002, a study found that Americans pay between $500 million and $1 billion annually in taxes to subsidize grazing in the West. “Taxpayers pay to restore streams fouled by cattle; to fence public campsites and archaeological sites; to filter out giardia and other parasites that end up in city water supplies from cattle. They also pay when government trappers kill mountain lions, coyotes and other predators that threaten cows on the public range.”

There is little scientific evidence to show that these animals compete for the same areas as domestic animals or that the federal dollars spent on killing the native animals is remotely connected to the actual damage they cause.

Yet every year the government spends millions of dollars to kill thousands upon thousands of animals on private and public lands. Animal Damage Control began in 1886 as a program to advise people on how to control birds that farmers said were damaging crops. It started killing predators in 1914 and has continued to do so ever since, now called Wildlife Services within the Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) under the Animal Damage Control Act of 1931.

By 1921 labs were creating poisons for wildlife, coyotes and wolves. In 2006 a USDA audit found biological agents and toxins used by APHIS to kill wildlife were not safeguarded, inventories were not accurate, access was not restricted and didn’t comply with security regulations.

Called “welfare ranching” the program also benefits game hunters who hope to increase the numbers of game species like big horn sheep and sage grouse for shooting.

A large part of the federal kill program also focuses on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Policies of the BLM have been revealed to benefit private interests at the expense of wild horses being inhumanely rounded up and removed. 

More and more showdowns are occurring between protestors and the BLM when helicopters close in on wild horses in their beloved death stampedes.

“They are by law supposed to protect these horses, and in fact they are doing the exact opposite — they are exterminating them,” says Simone Netherlands, founder of the advocacy group Respect 4 Horses. “They are managing them to extinction.”

The BLM insists there are more wild horses and burros today than there were in 1971 when the roundup program began after a unanimous vote to protect and manage wild horses and burros under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, ensuring them a place on public lands free from “capture, harassment and death.”

The population grew and the last BLM roundup removed more horses and burros than it had in other years. According to the BLM, the estimated 33,700 wild horses and 4,700 burros roaming the bureau’s lands in 10 western states would explode in numbers if not controlled.

The government’s plan to remove 12,000 more horses from the land would leave about 26,600 horses and burros to roam 26 million acres.

So the tax-funded killing cycle of wildlife continues, killing both predators and prey, despite public outcry.

Wild mustangs are managed on much of BLM’s public lands where other wildlife and livestock also live and people use for recreation and mining.

“We have to manage for all users,” says Alan Shepard, the head of BLM’s Nevada office. “We can’t let one, say the horse, impact everybody else by taking all the feed, all the water.”

If horses were actually taking all the feed and water, everything else would be dead, which is not the case. 

Netherlands said the problem isn’t the horses but the cattle that are allowed to graze on the same land. Decisions of the government that determine the number of horses they will leave in peace on the land are calculated by a study done in the mid-1990’s, a study that activists insist is not scientific.

The National Academy of Science previously noted that the population growth estimates the BLM uses are double the actual number.

According to the Animal Law Coalition, “[Interior Secretary] Salazar and the BLM do not mention the thousands of cattle grazing and drinking and fouling water on these lands, BLM’s land sales, development, increasing recreational use, and mining as well diversion of water from herd areas. Wildlife ecologists say if public lands are “degraded”, something that is disputed, these factors are far more to blame. In fact, citizens living in the areas where there are wild horses and burros, including small ranchers, contradict BLM’s assessments the range is “degraded” or lacks sufficient water for these few remaining animals.”

“To be rounded up in the way that it is done with helicopters, being run for miles and miles and miles — it’s brutal,” says Netherlands. “It’s barbaric and it does not need to be done this way.”

More than 100 horses died in a round-up earlier this in a roundup from being run in the cold over hard ground.

“This is not a risk-free operation and yes, horses do get killed,” says Tom Gorey, spokesman for BLM. “We have a very low mortality rate of less than 1 percent from gather-related deaths.”

The media were kept about a quarter of a mile away from where the horses were being corralled at a recent Lahontan roundup. Shepard said the reason was because if they were any closer, cameras might spook the horses.

Right. After chasing them down and terrorizing them with helicopters, you wouldn’t want them to be further traumatized by the public or a few journalists.

Hope has come from a group of members of Congress who encouraged BLM to ask for an independent study of its Wild Horse and Burro Program. An assessment by the National Academy of Sciences would take two years to complete.


There is currently an opportunity for those who are concerned for wildlife being targeted by these damaging and wasteful federal programs to voice their opposition.

Visit the Wild Horse Preservation Campaign to submit your comments to the USDA on an Environmental Assessment for Predator Damage Management in Nevada.

Send a letter to the BLM
to voice your opposition to plans to remove 400 horses from the High Rock Complex in Nevada.

creative commons


Angelique C.
Angelique C.6 years ago

I accidentally clicked 'yes' on the poll.. I MEANT NO!

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle7 years ago

It's so sickening, and the ranchers always have more sway because it's a business, than the horses who LIVE there. Kind of reminds you of the Army and the Native Americans. They live on the land, but have no rights.

Thomas Lee B.
Thomas Lee B7 years ago

LP B, I doubt that I'm having quite the same effect on the land as the rancher whose cattle overgraze, trample, and crap in the streams or the hunter who screws up habitats to "enhance sporting opportunities." I read about a hunter in Nevada who said the Game Commission there promotes hunting to the exclusion of all other considerations because they are desperate for "the license fee dollar." The other states are all the same.

Sheila M.
Sheila M7 years ago

These greedy people need to get off OUR land. WE need to get off our ASSES. We need to MAKE our elected offcial do OUR bidding and stop taking bribes from special interests which are almost ALWAYS opposed to our interests. ENOUGH!

Joan Massetti
J MASSETTI7 years ago


Marleen Paulus
Marleen Paulus7 years ago

money and money always the same dirty business and what has real value must pay the price of life and hapiness

LP B7 years ago

I have noticed several places where it has been referred to as "OUR public Land" I believe that to include the rancher, the hunter, the camper and all lovers of nature and the out of doors, and I would say more so than the persons that don't have clue as to what they write, someone writes something and it incites others to follow in there foot steps without first hand knowledge, of course someone that wants all horses left will only give their side of the story, if that is the one you choose to believe you become a "follower" and would sign any petition handed to you, that is understandable for people that have never experienced any of the hardships of the rancher or animals on the land during times of drought, harsh winters, lack of water, everyone needs a scapegoat and in this particular instance it happens to be the very people that have put their life blood into the develpoement of water and grazing, seeing to the betterment of the land by not allowing cattle on the land during certain times of the year, As for cattle deminishing the feed on the land and ruining the water, it is evident that none of you know that there are metal water troughs at most developed areas, and believe me the rancher will see that the water is available AT ALL TIMES!
Also one specific commentthat stuck was if the rancher were to graze private land he would have to pay, why do you people think that there are no fees paid to the gov.

Elle E.
elle g7 years ago

All land must not be used for profit, some has to be for posterity!

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M7 years ago

Signed already. And they use tax dollars to kill Mustangs and Burros????? These kind of massive killings of these beautiful animals has to be stopped!

Holly C.
Holly c7 years ago

Keep ranchers off our land and leave our wildlife alone! Goverment bullcrap so that the rich ranchers can have everything they want and use the land for cattle and oil!