I.G.H.A. / HorseAid's Bureau of Land Management News



HorseAid's 1998 "Report Card" on the BLM


Currently there are over 6000 "wild horses" (Mustangs) and burros languishing in BLM holding pens (costing the U.S. taxpayer an estimated $50,000 a month to maintain ) while facing a very bleak future. And while these animals (who are the custodial property of all Americans) face this uncertain (and most likely inhumane) future, the BLM is still pushing ahead with its current plan to round up at least ten thousand more feral horses and burros during fiscal year 1998 (in order to reach their stated goal of leaving no more than twenty thousand wild Mustangs and burros on all publicly owned and managed lands).

All the Mustangs (and burros) are publicly owned (the BLM just acts as "custodian"), and contrary to popular belief, there is no "single" massive group of 42,000 horses "roaming freely over the great open plains of the West". Rather, they are scattered across ten Western states on 186 separate ranges traveling in small family groups called bands. Bands typically consist of five to twelve horses. Often the ranges they roam are designated as "multiple use" ranges. Meaning that the land is also allocated by the BLM to ranchers grazing their cattle (and sheep). The division between commercial ranching interests and feral horse and burros proponents has been at the heart of this controversial issue for many years now. The debate still revolves around the cattlemen/ranchers (a very powerful political entity in the Western states) who steadfastly defend their right to make a living off of public lands and the wild Mustang and burro advocates protesting the fact that a minority of these ranchers are making an easy buck at the expense of the American taxpayer and the wild Mustang and burro herds. Cattlemen still protest having to share the public lands with Mustangs and burros, and so far, have had the political clout to have them removed.

Since 1971, 117 wild horse and burro herds in the U.S. have been eliminated by the BLM. Bringing the total number of herds managed down from 303 to 186. Less than half of these herds include a high enough number of breeding adults to insure that they can avoid inbreeding, adapt, evolve and maintain genetic fitness. A geneticist at the University of Kentucky (Dr. Gus Cothran) who has studied the wild horses of the Pryor Mountains of Montana since the early 90's, has concluded that a minimum of 65 breeding adults are needed to sustain genetic fitness in a herd.

HorseAid's primary concern at present is with the 6000 "wild" horses and burros currently held by the BLM. We have demanded (as have several other groups), that the BLM place a total moratorium on any future roundups until those 6000 horses are humanly dealt with. One solution (among the many we have suggested to the BLM) would be to re-release some of the Mustangs (and burros) into HMAs that have been completely "zeroed-out" (formerly designated as HMAs by the BLM, but where all the horses and burros have been removed). Some of the remaining animals could then be added to existing herds where the number of animals have been so reduced by BLM roundups that the herds do not contain enough breeding adults to maintain genetic reliability/viability. So far, the BLM has resisted outside pressure by the various advocacy groups (including HorseAid) to "do the right thing". What really concerns us most, is that one of the "solutions" espoused (at least internally) by the BLM -- is a plan to reduce the current high number of horses and burros in government holding pens by shipping them to third world countries where they can be used as "beasts of burden", or just killing the animals outright.

This kind of thinking is not a solution BLM, this kind of thinking is the problem!


Consider this...



HorseAid's BLM Report Card for Fiscal 1998

SUBJECT

GRADE

COOPERATION

Able to deal with problems in a humane and compassionate way.

F-

Unsatisfactory

Deals with issues in an honest and forthright manner at all times.

F-

Unsatisfactory

Acts in the best interest of the animals it is empowered to protect.

F-

Unsatisfactory

Acts in the best interest of all the American people at all times.

F-

Unsatisfactory




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