Reform the Federal Wild Horse and Burro Program

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In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences, after a 1.5-year review of the Wild Horse and Burro Program, warned that “continuation of business as usual practices will be expensive and unproductive for the BLM and the public it serves.” 

Yet the roundups continue, accelerated under a Trump Administration plan to round up and remove 90,000 wild horses and burros over the next five years. This will cost the wild horses and burros dearly, robbing them of freedom and family, and often their lives.  

The pressure to round up wild horses and burros comes from cattlemen who want the public lands where wild horses roam for private livestock grazing. It’s a sweet deal for ranchers who pay vastly below-market grazing fees on public lands thanks to our tax subsidies. For taxpayers, it’s another story. The Trump Administration estimated their wild horse plan will cost us $5 billion over the next 15 years.

As Americans and taxpayers, we must demand an end to this. Successful wild horse fertility control programs in Nevada and Arizona are proving that in-the-wild management is both a humane and cost-effective management method, even for large wild horse populations in expansive habitat areas.

Congress is beginning to lead on this issue. This summer, nearly 50 members of the House of Representatives advanced recently requested appropriations language to fund humane fertility control as an alternative to roundups.

Now it’s time for the new Administration to follow suit. With inspired leadership and a commitment from the top, we can reform this broken federal program and restore its mission of stewarding our nation’s magnificent wild horses and burros and the spectacular western public lands they call home. 

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