Mustang management gets an overhaul

 

Roughly 37,000 wild horses and burros roam the West’s public lands -- about 40 percent more than the feds think those lands can sustain. But the Bureau of Land Management’s efforts to round them up and adopt them out have been costly, ineffective and unpopular, with critics charging that horses are unnecessarily harmed and even killed.

Earlier this week, the agency stopped a roundup in northeastern Nevada after gathering just 1,300 of the 2,000 wild horses it had planned to remove from the range, saying that high winds and the dispersal of the horses made it too difficult to continue. The Associated Press reports:

Activists said it made more sense financially to leave the horses on the range on two ranches — in and around the Antelope Complex -- that the wife of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens purchased to serve as a mustang sanctuary.

"The BLM could have postponed the roundup until fall in order to take advantage of philanthropist Madeleine Pickens' cost-savings alternative to house Antelope horses on her private lands adjacent to their home range instead of shipping them thousands of miles to distant government holding facilities," said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

The BLM earlier rejected Pickens' proposal to accept some of the mustangs, saying it wouldn't save taxpayers' money and it didn't include enough water and forage for the animals.

Also this week, in response to more than 9,000 public comments received over the past year, the BLM has announced “fundamental reforms” in its management of wild horses. For at least the next two years, it will round up 3,000 fewer animals each year -- just 7,000 annually -- and work to increase adoptions. It's pledging to form more partnerships with private groups -- like Pickens -- for long-term care of some horses. The agency will also quadruple the number of mares receiving contraception, to 2,000 per year.

The plan also includes a review by the National Academy of Sciences to ensure the latest research is applied to wild horse management policies. The BLM is taking comments on the plan through March 30 -- to add your two cents, write to [email protected] with “Comments on Strategy” in the subject line.

Jodi Peterson is HCN's managing editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Position Announcement POSITION TITLE: Executive Director ORGANIZATION: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument REPORTING TO: Board of Directors EMPLOYMENT TYPE: Part-time - Full-time, based...
  • HEALTHY CITIES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Healthy Cities Program Director leads and manages the Healthy Cities Program for the Arizona Chapter and is responsible for developing and implementing innovative, high...
  • CONSERVATION PROGRAM MANAGER
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Conservation Programs Manager Job Opening Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Associate Director Job Posting Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through science,...
  • UNIQUE, ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME ON ACREAGE NEAR MOSCOW, IDAHO
    Custom-built energy-efficient 3000 sqft two-story 3BR home, 900 sqft 1 BR accessory cottage above 2-car garage and large shop. Large horse barn. $1,200,000. See online...
  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURE BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Missoula Outdoor Learning Adventures (MOLA) - established and profitable outdoor adventure & education business in Missoula, Montana. Summer camp, raft & climb guide, teen travel,...
  • OJO SARCO FARM/HOME
    A wonderful country setting for a farm/work 1350s.f. frame home plus 1000 studio/workshop. 5 acres w fruit trees, an irrigation well, pasture and a small...
  • STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Join Skagit Land Trust (the Trust), a not-for-profit conservation organization based in Mount Vernon, Washington, and help protect land for people and wildlife. Skagit Land...
  • 2022 SEASONAL SCIENCE EDUCATOR
    The Mount St. Helens Institute Science Educator supports our science education and rental programs including day and overnight programs for youth ages 6-18, their families...
  • POLICY DIRECTOR
    Heart of the Rockies Initiative is seeking a Policy Director to lead and define policy efforts to advance our mission to keep working lands and...
  • CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
    Self-Help Enterprises seeks an experienced and strategic CFO
  • CONSERVATION SPECIALIST - LAND PROTECTION FOCUS
    View full job description and how to apply at
  • RIVER EDUCATOR & GUIDE
    River Educator & Guide River Educator & Guide (Trip Leader) Non-exempt, Seasonal Position: Full-time OR part-time (early April through October; may be flexible with start/end...
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • FOOD SYSTEMS ENVIRONMENTAL FELLOWSHIP
    If you were to design a sustainable society from the ground up, it would look nothing like the contemporary United States. But what would it...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) is seeking an Executive Director who will lead RiGHT toward a future of continued high conservation impact, organizational...
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Help protect Montana's water quality, family farms and ranches, & unique quality of life. Work hard, meet good people, make the world a better place!...
  • NEW BOOK:
    True Wildlife Tales From Boy to Man. Finding my voice to save wildlife in the Apache spirit. 365+ vivid colorful pictures. Buy on Amazon/John Wachholz
  • CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
    with Rural Community Assistance Corporation. Apply here: https://www.marcumllp.com/executive-search/chief-operations-officer-rcac
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...