July 2008Bureau of Land ManagementFactsheet on Challenges Facing the BLM in its Management of Wild Horses and Burros
The BLM’s goal in the West is to manage healthy, free-roaming herds on healthy rangelands. To do that, we must confront a number of tough challenges. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years. As a result, the agency must remove thousands of animals from Western public rangelands each year to ensure that herd sizes are consistent with the land’s capacity to support them.
As of June 2008, there are more than 30,000 removed (or “excess”) wild horses and burros that are fed and cared for at short-term (corral) and long-term (pasture) holding facilities. Currently, animals placed in long-term holding live out the rest of their lives there, which can be from 10 to 25 years depending on the age at which they enter long-term holding.
The BLM attempts to place as many animals as possible each year into private care through public adoptions, but adoptions have been declining in recent years because of higher fuel and feed costs. Adoptions declined from 5,701 in Fiscal Year 2005 to 4,772 in Fiscal Year 2007. The BLM’s direct sales program, which primarily affects older animals, has met with limited success as currently implemented.
The BLM seeks to bring the number placed through adoption or sold each year into balance with the number that must be removed annually from the range. As a result, fewer animals will need to be maintained in holding facilities.