Editor's Note: On September 14 the Bureau of Land Management announced it would continue to care for over 45,000 wild horses after public outcry in response to an advisory committee’s recommendation to euthanize the animals. The Humane Society of the United States is pleased to see that the BLM is not currently considering sending any of the wild horses and burros in holding facilities to slaughter. However, maintaining the status quo is simply not good enough. The Wild Horse and Burro Program is a sinking ship and it is incumbent that the agency make real changes to ensure that the wild horse and burro program stays afloat. The Humane Society of the United States has asked the agency to reconfigure their management paradigm to focus on humane management tools, and we would like the agency to commit to a timeline in which it undertakes these vital efforts.
The Bureau of Land Management's National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board voted to recommend euthanasia of all unadopted wild horses and burros now in government holding facilities throughout the United States. In response, Humane Society of the United States Senior Vice President of Programs & Innovations Holly Hazard,
"The decision of the BLM advisory board to recommend the destruction of the 45,000 wild horses currently in holding facilities is a complete abdication of responsibility for their care. The agency would not be in this situation but for their long-term mis-management. Alternatives to this proposal have been ignored for over 20 years. The HSUS stands ready to implement these alternatives at any time."
Over the past 20 years, the BLM has maintained round-up and removal as a primary management strategy for wild horse and burro populations on America's western rangelands—an effort which has led to a financially unsustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program. By focusing massive efforts on removing horses and burros from the range, without treating those horses remaining on the range with any form of fertility control to limit population growth, holding facilities throughout the United States have become overburdened.
In fiscal year 2015, BLM spent $49 million maintaining these horses in off-range facilities, which constituted 46 percent of the entire budget of the agency's wild horse and burro program. Such a large expenditure has limited the agency's ability to properly manage wild horses on the range. The HSUS has long recommended the humane and sustainable option of implementing fertility control programs throughout the West.