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Know the West

BLM's equine quagmire


It's unconscionable that current policy has tripled the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse and burro program budget since 2000 to a massive $76 million. Dave Philipps' fine piece of reporting mentioned many of BLM's management strategies, such as roundups, adoption, fertility control and sanctuaries ("Nowhere to Run," HCN, 11/12/12). A few more were overlooked, including temporary satellite adoption centers in areas with demand for horses, and working with prison systems to establish programs in which inmates train wild horses.

Given the public and political pressures, the BLM has done the best it can under current laws and regulations. The nearly 50,000 horses in holding facilities, mostly unadoptable, consume about half of the program's budget. The problem could be solved if Washington would listen to the numerous studies and reports that emphasize the need for legislative reform of the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971. Getting the program on a cost-effective, sustainable track must start with congressional hearings. The BLM director could show proactive leadership by calling for these as soon as possible.


Joe Ross
Roseburg, Oregon