Advocates air concerns over upcoming meeting about federal wild horse management

Wild horses are pushed along during a Bureau of Land Management helicopter roundup at the Conger Herd Management Area in Utah in 2016. Photo: Steve Paige
Wild horses are pushed along during a Bureau of Land Management helicopter roundup at the Conger Herd Management Area in Utah in 2016. Photo: Steve Paige

A wild horse advocacy group is worried about an upcoming invitation-only event to discuss federal management of the rangeland population.

Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation says the meeting planned for August 22-24 in Salt Lake City, Utah, will be “closed to the voices of wild horse advocates”.

The nonprofit group’s president, Neda DeMayo, said the list of those attending suggested that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had created an “anti-horse echo chamber, not a solution-oriented meeting”.

The event was a far cry from the discussion about wild horses suggested by Zinke in front of the House Interior Subcommittee during a budget hearing on June 8, the group said. There, Zinke is reported as saying: “I think we should have a roundtable and include everybody, but let’s get a plan on how to manage the population.”

DeMayo said the upcoming Utah meeting was not a way to find common ground.

“There are readily available tools that could allow the Bureau of Land Management to end this costly, cruel system of helicopter roundups and off-range holding and manage wild horses in a humane, sustainable way, instead,” she said.

“This is yet another missed opportunity – just as in 2007, when BLM, within 1,071 wild horses and burros of its own population goal, failed to aggressively implement a safe, proven fertility control vaccine.”

The goal of the Utah meeting is said to be “Full implementation of the 1971 Wild Horse and Burro Management Act.” Wild Horse Freedom said this was often code for allowing the BLM to euthanize “excess” wild horses, which is an option included in the law but which Congress has previously forbidden with protective language placed in appropriations bills.

The group said Congress has moved to forbid the practice for good reason – polls consistently show 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter and similar percentages want to see wild horses protected.

However, an amendment to the Interior appropriations bill that would allow the BLM to euthanize healthy, unadopted wild horses and burros was passed by the House Appropriations Committee on July 19 on a voice vote.

The group noted that Zinke had written off the use of fertility control as “by and large, a failure,” when speaking during the same June hearing, even though the BLM had never invested more than 4% of its annual Wild Horse and Burro Program budget on fertility control.

In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report that blamed the practice of removing free-ranging horses from public lands for promoting a high population growth rate, while calling fertility control vaccines “effective approaches.”

Return to Freedom argues that fertility control is one of several steps toward achieving balanced, sustainable management of wild horses on the range. Others include range and water restoration projects and creating incentives for public lands ranchers who voluntarily lower their livestock numbers.

2 thoughts on “Advocates air concerns over upcoming meeting about federal wild horse management

  • August 19, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Daniel Cordero Fernández
    15 hrs ·
    GAO, Congress supposed investigative arm, has released a new flawed report supporting wild horse slaughter in preparation for the upcoming Senate Appropriations markup session vote.
    The report is totally flawed and full of inconsistencies, created at the sole request of the pro-slaughter lobby to waive it in front of the Senate appropriations committee and justify the slaughter of US horses, domestic and wild. You can read it at
    With this new report, GAO once again sinks to a new bottom and reassures its position as propaganda machine of the anti-animal lobby directed by Forrest Lucas.

  • August 20, 2017 at 3:53 am

    Underpopulated: According to the guidelines of BLM’s own geneticist, the arbitrary management levels (AMLs) of 83% of wild-horse herds are set below minimum-viable population (MVP). Further, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature says the MVP should be 16 times higher.

    Sparsely Populated: Wild horses are few and far between, and widely dispersed. Here are 2 examples of what BLM deems “appropriate” stocking rates:

    1 wild horse per 6,606 acres (10 square miles) — Eagle herd
    1 wild horse per 9,591 acres (15 square miles) — Silver King herd

    Fraudulent figures on the Range: BLM makes false and misleading representations regarding the number of wild horses on the range. Normal herd-growth is — at most — 5%. BLM reports biologically-impossible herd-growth. Here are a few examples of 1-year increases alleged by BLM:

    237% — 47 times the norm — Divide Basin
    260% — 52 times the norm — Shawave
    293% — 59 times the norm — Diamond Hills South
    417% — 83 times the norm — Nut Mountain
    418% — 84 times the norm — Black Rock Range East

    Those aren’t the worst. How about these:

    1,218% — 244 times the norm — Centennial
    1,257% — 251 times the norm — Carter

    Fraudulent Figures in Captivity: A White Paper was just released after a 5-year investigation by Wild Horse Freedom Federation. It revealed that BLM has been publishing fictitious figures regarding the number of wild horses removed from the range and now supposedly boarded in private pastures. It turns out that, using taxpayer dollars, BLM has been paying contractors to feed nonexistent horses.

    Fraud and Embezzlement Are Crimes: BLM’s data with regard to mustangs is false and misleading. Making false and misleading representations = fraud, which violates Title 18 USC 1001 of the Federal criminal code. Embezzlement and theft violate various sections of Title 18 USC Chapter 31.

    No Overpopulation: Sterilization of wild horses is contraindicated because there is no overpopulation. Birth control does not fix fraud. When advocates promote birth control, they are agreeing with BLM’s lie that the horses are overpopulated.

    No Euthanasia: Murdering wild horses does not fix fraud. Congress needs to investigate and root out the corruption that has turned BLM into the Bureau of Lies and Malfeasance.


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