BLM Releases Plan to Destroy America’s Mustangs

Agency ignores science, public opinion, Congress and the recommendations of more than 100 wild horse advocacy organizations 

Washington, DC (April 26, 2018). . . Today, the American Wild Horse Campaign blasted the Bureau of Land Management’s just-released plan for the management of America’s cherished wild horse and burro herds.

“The BLM today released a roadmap for destruction of America’s wild free-roaming horse and burros by virtually eradicating their populations on our Western public lands,” said Suzanne Roy, Executive Director. “The agency has failed to deliver the ‘humane and politically viable’ options requested by Congress, and instead has devised an irresponsible plan that is counter to public opinion, the findings of BLM-commissioned National Academy of Sciences report, and the principles endorsed by more than 100 wild horse advocacy organizations.

The entire plan is based on reducing wild herds to the agency’s so-called "Appropriate Management Levels" (AMLs), which were refuted by the BLM-commissioned 2013 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report as “not transparent to stakeholders, supported by scientific information, or amenable to adaptation with new information and environmental and social change.”

Every alternative suggested in the plan would cut populations to the AML of 27,000 horses and burros – the number that existed in 1971 when Congress protected these animals because they were “fast disappearing.” The unscientific AMLs are absurdly low in most Western states. In New Mexico, for example, a state with more than 14 million acres of BLM-managed public land, the BLM has established an AML of only 83 horses, the rough equivalent of 3 horses in the entire state of Rhode Island.  

To achieve these extinction-level population goals, the agency is proposing a variety of inhumane, unscientific and publicly unacceptable methods that include:

  • The removal of more than 50,000 wild horses and burros on the range.
  • The mass killing or sale for slaughter of 100,000 mustangs and burros, including those currently in holding facilities and those who would be removed from the range.
  • The mass sterilization of wild horses and burros who remain on the range, an option rejected by the NAS because sterilization methods are both dangerous and would destroy the wild free roaming behaviors of wild horses, which are protected under federal law.

Even alternatives that mention humane and and scientifically recommended birth control, which BLM currently spends 0% of its budget on, rely on objectionable methods including mass removals, warehousing and/or slaughter of wild horses and burros. 

 “BLM, the agency whose terrible mismanagement of this program has brought us to this place, is now proposing more bad ideas, including mass roundup and slaughter to cover for their incompetence,” Roy concluded. “Rest assured, this plan will meet with strong opposition from the horse welfare and wild horse advocacy communities, which came together several months ago to produce a Unified Statement for humane and sustainable wild horse and burro management, signed by more than 100 organizations throughout the country.”

AWHC will have a more detailed response to the plan in the coming days after thorough analysis of the irresponsible options proposed in this document.

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. Its grassroots mission is endorsed by a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, humane and public interest organizations.