BLM Seeks Better Population Control for Wild Horses & Burros

BLM Seeks Better Population Control for Wild Horses & Burros

Written by on May 12, 2022

The B.L.M. wants more fertility control of wild horses and burros so overpopulated herds don’t use all the water and food needed by other Wyoming wildlife.

The Bureau of Land Management seeks new contract services to humanely gather, treat, and release wild horses and burros living on public lands. The contract is part of their longing effort to increase fertility control for the benefit of the herds, the landscape, and other wildlife.

The B.L.M. manages and protects wild horses and burros on 26.9 million acres of public lands across 10 Western states as part of its mission to administer public lands for various uses. The Wild Horse and Burro Program aims to manage healthy wild horses and burros on healthy public rangelands.

Courtesy BLM

The BLM anticipates making up to $20 million available over one to five for fertility control efforts, subject to the government’s discretion based on future needs or appropriations.

“Managing healthy wild horse and burro herds on healthy public lands is a top priority for the Bureau of Land Management,” said Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “The BLM is laser-focused on finding common-sense solutions to protect our public lands and the species that depend on them, especially as we face growing effects of drought and climate change.”

Wild horse and burro herds grow rapidly on public lands and can double every four or five years if not managed. As of March 1, 2022, the BLM estimated there were more than 82,000 wild horses and burros on public lands, which is more than three times the appropriate number.

Overpopulated herds are put at increased risk for starvation and thirst as they over-use and degrade forage and water resources that are important for thousands of other wildlife species.

As extreme drought conditions continue across the West, these impacts are amplified. They have already caused the BLM to take a record number of emergency actions last year to save animals.

“It’s imperative that we do all that we can to protect these national icons and other wildlife from the effects of drought and overpopulation,” said Stone-Manning. “Increasing the use of safe and humane fertility control methods to help stabilize herd growth is an important part of our plan to protect these animals and their habitat. Our goal is to ensure these animals can continue to survive and thrive on America’s public lands for generations to come.”

Though some animals can be darted with fertility control with the help of partners and volunteers, most animals need to be gathered for treatment due to the large and remote landscapes they inhabit. Nevertheless, all activities to manage wild horses and burros, including gather operations, must follow required handling standards to prioritize animal care and welfare.

As a result of BLM’s commitment to humane treatment, wild horse and burro gathers have a very high success rate, and serious injuries are exceedingly rare.

Contracts awarded under this solicitation will, under BLM supervision:

  • Perform wild horse and burro gathers using approved bait-trap and helicopter-assisted methods
  • Apply an assigned fertility control treatment,
  • Provide care or short-term holding as needed
  • Release the animals back to public lands.

Contracts must be for one year, with the possibility of four option years. The solicitation closes at 10 a.m. M.T. June 9, 2022. Access the solicitation.

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