KBR Wild Horse and Burro News
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed unanimously by Congress in 1971 with overwhelming nationwide public support. The Act recognized that wild horses and burros were "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West", an important part of our American heritage.
BLM was given the responsibility of implementing the law to protect wild horses and burros found on public land and, for the most part, has done an acceptable job. Segments of the public have expressed concern about BLM’s skirting the Act and the reduction of herd management areas (wild horse and burro use areas) from 303 in 1984 down to only 186 in 1997. There were also several court actions filed against BLM intended to enforce adequate protection of wild horses and strengthen adoption policies.
Across-the-board Federal funding reductions implemented in an effort to balance the Federal budget have had an impact on the amount of money available in fiscal year 1998 for the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program. Mr. Pat Shea, Director of the BLM, who took over this challenging job in 1997 has asked Congress to increase his 15.4 million dollar budget for the program. If we cannot compel Congress to adequately fund this program, then the focus should be on reducing BLM and program overhead rather than slaughter or starve these helpless animals. Part of the 40 million dollars the Vice President is proposing to spend on a satellite to send pictures of earth back to home computers could be better applied to life and death programs such as this one.
Wild horses and burros are inherent to public lands which are under the management of BLM. The National Parks Service has already demonstrated an inability to manage wild animal programs by creating animosity with local ranchers over the wolf release and diseased buffalo roaming issues. Wild horses and burros have to coexist with grazing cattle within some Herd Management Areas. While they do share common water supplies, horses and burros are far more adept than cattle in seeking food sources. A certain amount of good will from ranchers is needed to protect the wild horses and burros and the Department of the Interior would be ill advised to transfer management of the program from BLM to NPS because of their track record in Yellowstone Park.
Civilization is growing in the West and placing demands on land used by wild horses and burros. Progress requires land-use but it should not be at the expense of our national heritage. These animals are designated as "protected" as opposed to "renewable resources" and should remain that way. Their lands should not be overrun, developed or otherwise used in a manner which will be detrimental to their natural existence. Controlling the wild horse and burro population is an on-going dilemma as is the disposition of older animals. While there is no easy answer to these problems, having an accurate animal count rather than inconsistent data being reported by BLM would be a good start. (For example, in 1997, BLM reported to Congress that an estimated 43,000 wild horses and burros were on rangelands. However, The Animal Protection Institute and others contend that less than one half that number actually exist.)
The answer to the population and disposal problem lies in having a viable Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board composed of dedicated and knowledgeable individuals from within BLM and the private sector. Composition of the current board does not lend itself to that criteria. There also appeared to be less than open public dissemination of nominating information and deadlines when this Advisory Board was formed.
The bottom line is concerned citizens and wild horse and burro lovers should contact their Federal elected representatives via electronic mail, US mail and in person when-ever possible. Express your concerns about:
Email Pat Shea at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Bruce Babbitt at Bruce_Babbitt@ios.doi.gov
Email President Bush at email@example.com
Please send a courtesy copy of your comments to our #1 wild horse advocate at BLM:
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This is not a BLM operated or BLM sponsored site. It is run by private wild horse and burro enthusiasts and owners. The opinions expressed here are a composite of ideas and comments received from informed wild horse enthusiasts.