BLM seeks public input to suppress wild horse, burro herds population growth

© Author: Forest & Kim Starr / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

SALT LAKE CITY – As part of its continuing efforts to improve the national Wild Horse and Burro Program, and in response to a recent study of the National Academy of Sciences, the Bureau of Land Management is seeking research proposals to develop new or improve existing ways of controlling the population growth of wild horses and burros that roam public lands in the West.

“We remain committed to making substantial improvements to the national Wild Horse and Burro Program and we know that some of the best ideas for effective contraception techniques will come from veterinarians, scientists, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and other researchers outside of the BLM,” Joan Guilfoyle, Division Chief of the program, said. “The development and use of more effective methods to reduce population growth rates will lessen the need to remove animals from the range and improve the health of public rangelands, conserve wildlife habitat, and save taxpayers money.”

The BLM has issued a Request for Applications to alert veterinarians, scientists, universities, pharmaceutical companies, and other researchers of the BLM’s need to develop new, innovative techniques and protocols for implementing population growth-suppression methods.

Specifically, the BLM is interested in finding experts to develop new or refine current techniques and protocols for either contraception or the spaying or neutering of on-range male and female wild horses and burros. The methods may be surgical, chemical, pharmaceutical, or mechanical, such as intrauterine devices. The submission deadline for applications is May 7.

The President’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 includes $80.2 million for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, a $2.8 million increase over the FY 2014 level. The additional funds will focus on research of population-control methods.

The BLM estimates that 40,605 wild horses and burros, about 33,780 horses and 6,825 burros, are roaming BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states, based on the latest data available, compiled as of February 28, 2013.

Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years, as confirmed by the recent NAS study that urged the BLM to make wider use of fertility control. The study found that, on average, the BLM undercounts the Westwide population of wild horses and burros by 20 to 30 percent.

About the Bureau of Land

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency.  This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska.  The BLM also administers 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate throughout the nation.  The BLM’s mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield.  In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.


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  • Margaret March 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    The first question that comes to mind is why BLM isn’t utilizing PZP better? And their idea of gelding studs–this is not management on the range as they were mandated by law in 1971. Spaying the mares is NOT acceptable. You don’t reach in crush organs with your fingers and turn the mates out the following day as was done in Oregon. After ZENYATTA lost her first foal I downloaded several vet books. Not a one of them even mentioned spaying. It just isn’t done.

    If it is done it so MAJOR SURGERY. Not done I a dirty environment. You have to have a sterile field. (Think Barbaro’s surgery). You have to keep those mares in a stall for a minimum of 30 days and offer pain meds as needed.

    BLM’s history of gelding is a paralytic drug, geld and release. There is no post pain meds. And they are returned to filthy dirty pens. That whole area is left open to drain. When a horse lies down you can bet that all kinds of nasty bugs get in there.

    How about going back and reading and employing those things NAS told you. That there is no over population. That the horses will settle naturally in terms of what the land can manage.when you remove to no end like BLM has done it creates all kinds of u rest in the herds.

  • cranky March 28, 2014 at 8:25 am

    BLM has ruined the public lands and rivers by allowing greed base leased cattle
    grazing on sensitive desert lands, leave the wild horse’s and burro’s to regulate themselves.

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