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Wild Horse Roundup Controversy Could Cost the BLM $2 Million

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut the BLM's budget for Mustang management.


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Mustang horseEvery year, thousands of wild horses and burros across the western rangelands are rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Some are sold to adoptive homes, but many remain in long-term holding ranches in the Midwest where they live out their days. The purpose of these roundups is to control the size of the Mustang herds to prevent overgrazing, spread of disease, and other problems that come with overpopulation.

The wild horse program has picked up many critics during its years of operation. Some say the roundups are cruel, unnecessary, and done for the benefit of special interests such as cattle ranchers or oil companies. Others point to the program as an example of wasteful spending and question why the government is paying to care for the tens of thousands of formerly-wild horses that don't get adopted.

On Wednesday, February 16, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment that would cut the BLM's budget by $2 million. The wild horse program currently has a budget of $64 million. About half of that amount goes to housing the equines kept in long-term holding.

"It is just a drop in the bucket when you are talking about the overall cost problem we are facing," said the amendment's co-sponsor, Rep. Dan Burton, R-IN. "But it is one I hope will send a very strong message to the BLM to treat these Mustangs in a humane way."

"Instead of capturing wild horses and holding them in pens for life, BLM already should have fully implemented a less-costly, preventative and more humane option: That of controlling herd size through contraception," said Rep. James Moran, D-VA, a supporter of the amendment.

One vocal opponent of the amendment is Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-WY. "It is Congress that has caused the problems by saying we cannot slaughter horses, yet we are not supposed to keep them in pens," she stated. "We are supposed to allow them to overgraze the West."

While the BLM is not prohibited by law from culling the herds as a management option, director Bob Abbey has stated that the Bureau will not slaughter or euthanize healthy Mustangs and burros.

Abbey has acknowledged that the management program needs changes to make it financially viable while still carrying out the duty of keeping the wild horse numbers at a healthy level. Fertility control, expanded adoption programs and housing Mustangs on privately-owned lands are among the solutions under consideration by the Bureau.

The BLM has not issued a response to the proposed budget cut.

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Wild Horse Roundup Controversy Could Cost the BLM $2 Million

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valeria    las vegas, NV

3/31/2013 2:50:59 PM

I have also done thorough research in this area to remain as unbiased as possible and see both sides of the story unfortunately as far as I've come to see the BLM has done just about everything they could do wrong they BLM has had repeated dealings with contracters who have on numerouse occassions sold horses to slaughter. While when they planned to get rid of a herd of wild horses in a little town in Nevada the residents were all in an uproar and all went to the meeting the BLM has in which they said everyones questions would be answered when in fact they weren't they asked them to write down their questions and put them in a little box and that they would get back to them

the BLM might not be doing the harm personally but if they associate and hire people who they know are being cruel and doing illegal things like selling wild horses to be killed they are responsible

if you want the facts go to

Valerie    Sandy, OR

3/26/2013 10:42:36 AM

Unfortunately, the horses are fat and healthy. Also many are sold to slaughter houses heading for Mexico and Canada. They only pay $10.00 a head. I think the horses should be handled by horse people not the government. And why can't we just spread seed and make more food since land is plentiful.

Gunner    Rathdrum, ID

2/27/2011 1:28:49 PM

Just out of curiosity, has anyone here gone to the BLM's website? Or emailed them to ask them questions?
Because they state that they don't sell horses to slaughter houses. And while I don't like the fact they round up horses with helicopters necessarily, the facts they laid down are pretty good. And the BLM's job is exactly like fish and game, to preserve the land for multiple uses. The only difference is that they don't sell tags to shoot horses. And if BLM didn't manage the herds some how, then yes nature would take it's course and manage it for the rapid declines and inclines. And yes there are cougars and occasionally wolves and bears that prey on horses. But just like with everything else, humans are causing it so there just isn't enough predators out there to take care of the herds themselves. And no, I'm not someone who is stubborn enough not to get both sides of the story, I did my oral presentation for my 4-H horse club on the Mustang Controversy, and I emailed and asked both BLM and top wild horse groups there opinions, as well as facts and statistics to back there opinions up.

kimmi    Sterling, OH

2/23/2011 6:00:12 PM

Not Good

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