Tackling the overpopulation of wild horses in rangelands

In this file photo, a mare oversees her foal at the Indian Lakes holding facility northeast of Fallon.

In this file photo, a mare oversees her foal at the Indian Lakes holding facility northeast of Fallon.

Does the public understand the challenges that excess wild horses and burros pose to Western Rangelands? Do they understand just how much of their taxpayer money is going to preserve a population size that is, ultimately, not sustainable? The National Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition launched a public information campaign this week to answer those questions.

The campaign aims to increase awareness of the need for better management actions to improve and maintain the health of western public rangelands for the benefit of wild horses and burros, wildlife, livestock grazing and other multiple uses, as well as ensure the best use of taxpayers’ dollars.

Brief informative videos will air on multiple outlets, you can access these on the Coalition’s website, wildhorserange.org. Take this opportunity to view the information they have put together and educate yourself on the realities of the wild horse population. Share the knowledge you gain, and become a part of the conversation surrounding wild horses. You can use the link below to contact your local representatives and senators about this growing problem.

Currently, more than 64,000 wild horses and burros roam public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in 10 western states, with an additional 47,000 currently residing in government-funded holding facilities at a cost of more than $40 million annually to taxpayers.

The BLM reports that the land available for wild horses in these ten states is only able to support a population of 27,000. Such overpopulation threatens the health of the entire ecosystem, and the health of the wild horses and burros themselves. Horses and native wildlife are suffering and even dying in various locations in the West because of the lack of sufficient food and water resources to sustain them. For example, in the Cold Creek Herd Management Area in southern Nevada in 2015, the BLM had to conduct an emergency gather to save area horses from starvation.

“Wild horses and burros are an iconic aspect of western North America. However, continued uncontrolled growth of horse and burro herds is threatening everything else that relies on healthy rangelands,” said Keith Norris, chair of the National Horse & Burro Rangeland Management Coalition. “Improved management actions are needed to ensure that horse and burro populations remain in balance with the ecosystem’s ability to support them and all of the other uses of our public’s rangelands.”

The Coalition hopes this campaign will inform the public of this natural resource management problem and the need to remove the excess horses from the rangelands.


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