The BLM Updates Its 2024 Roundup Schedule

20,000 Wild Horses and Burros in the Crosshairs

On December 8th, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its updated Fiscal Year 2024 tentative "gather" schedule. The plan calls for the roundup of nearly 21,000 wild horses and burros and permanent removal of more than 19,000 from the wild by September 30th, 2024. It has sparked concerns and criticism across conservation circles and raises questions about the future of America's iconic wild equines.

Maintaining the Status Quo

Despite widespread calls for substantial reform, the BLM's latest plan falls into the all-too-familiar pattern of helicopter roundups and stockpiling wild horses and burros in overburdened holding facilities. This costly and unsustainable cycle is fiscally irresponsible and fails to address the root issues facing wild horse and burro populations. The sheer number of wild horses and burros to be removed this fiscal year is testimony to the BLM's utter failure to properly manage wild herds and responsibly steward our tax dollars. 

The Impact

Federal helicopters will fly in Nevada for an astonishing 12 capture operations, and bait traps will be set there three times, making it the state with the most roundups. The BLM plans to capture over 11,600 of Nevada's wild equines and permanently remove just over 11,000 of them.

A staggering blow awaits the North Lander complex in Wyoming, with a jaw-dropping 2,766 wild horses marked for removal. Worse, the Decision Record for this roundup authorizes the gelding (castration) of up to 95% of captured stallions designated for return to the range. Also targeted for a large-scale roundup is the White Mountain wild horse population near Rock Springs. 

The BLM plans to remove horses in five additional states– California, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. The majority of these will be conducted by helicopters. In California, BLM helicopters will return to Twin Peaks in August, just two years after a summer roundup in sweltering temperatures took a devastating toll on newly born foals, some of whom died from exhaustion and shock, while others literally had their hooves run off in the chase. 

Adding 19,000 more wild horses to the 60,000 already confined to holding facilities will bring the population in holding to nearly 80,000 animals. As a result, 2024 looms as the year when the population in confinement could equal or exceed the number of wild horses who remain in the wild. 

Ignoring Alternatives

Despite mounting scientific evidence advocating for in-the-wild conservation solutions, particularly cost-effective fertility control programs, the government's plan falls short. A mere 1,320 horses are slated for treatment with fertility control in the wild next year, a token nod to the growing pressure from Congress for proven alternatives to the controversial and unpopular roundups.

A Call for Change

It's evident that the current approach is not working, and there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in wild horse management. The BLM stands at a crossroads, where its choices will shape the future of America's wild horse and burro populations. 

A Marathon, Not a Sprint

The wild horse advocacy movement is in the midst of a decades-long campaign to secure respect, protection, and scientific stewardship of our federally-protected wild herds. And over the last decade, we have made huge strides. Public awareness of the cruelty of BLM helicopter roundups has never been higher.  We've demonstrated the feasibility of humane management with fertility control on large wild horse populations in expansive habitat areas. We've built the largest grassroots advocacy base in the history of this cause. Record numbers of Congress members have supported our calls for pro-wild horse legislation and are placing increasingly explicit directives on the agency to reform. 

The fight to uphold America's promise of freedom to wild horses and burros continues. Change does not occur overnight or as quickly as we would like. But we enter 2024 with a stronger voice and more credibility for our cause than ever before. As the leading wild horse and burro conservation organization, backed by over 700,000 advocates, our commitment to protecting wild horses and burros is unwavering. 

Together, we can shape a future where wild horses and burros roam freely, embodying the spirit of the untamed American landscape. Thank you for continuing to stand with AWHC and with our beloved wild horses and burros.