The Problem

A costly and cruel federal program seeks to wipe out mustangs and burros from our public lands. 

The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act protects wild horses and burros from "capture, branding, harassment, or death,” but the federal agency charged with enforcing it, has turned this law on its head. The federal Wild Horse and Burro Program has been woefully mismanaged for over 50 years and scientists warn that “continuation of ‘business as usual’ practices will be expensive and unproductive for government and the public it serves.”

Let's take a deeper dive into the problems.

BLM management threatens extinction

In 1971, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, was charged with protecting, managing, and controlling wild horse and burro populations on the federal rangeland that it administers. It established population limits called “Appropriate Management Levels” (AMLs) for each area where wild horses could be found on public land at that time.

But, AML numbers were never calculated to protect wild horse and burro populations or to the land they lived on. Instead, the BLM established AML by the number of wild horses and burros that existed in 1971, when they were considered “fast disappearing” -- a number that primarily caters to private interests despite the intention of the federal law.

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Welfare Ranching.

Private ranching influences government policy

The BLM is highly influenced by the commercial livestock industry that views wild horses as competition for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized grazing on public lands. While the BLM claims there are 88,000 wild horses on our western public lands, recent Congressional reports state that there are between 700,000 to 1 million domestic cattle that are permitted to graze.

As it currently stands, taxpayer-funded livestock grazing is authorized on 128 million acres of public land where wild horses are completely absent. Conversely, wild horses and burros are authorized to roam just 27 million acres of public land, all of which they share with -- and are exponentially outnumbered by -- cattle and sheep. Even still, ranchers want them gone and BLM is happy to comply.

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Cruel roundups create a vicious cycle

The BLM uses helicopters to capture and incarcerate thousands of wild horses and burros each year in an attempt to reduce populations to near-extinction levels.  However, scientists have found that BLM’s roundups actually cause wild horse populations to breed at higher than normal rates through a phenomenon called compensatory reproduction. In other words, the BLM is creating the very problem it's complaining about.

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Natural predators are eliminated

Mountain lions are natural predators of wild horses and burros. These apex predators could balance ecosystems and regulate wild horse populations. But between hunting tags and government kill programs aimed at protecting livestock, hundreds of mountain lions are killed on public lands each year.

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Fertility control is not utilized

When population control is necessary, a safe and scientifically recommended alternative -- the PZP immunocontraceptive vaccine - is available, but the BLM currently spends 0% of its budget to implement it.

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Viable solutions, backed by science

There’s a clear path forward for our country’s iconic symbols of freedom. Guided by comprehensive recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, we seek a holistic and humane approach to in-the-wild management.

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