Mustangs In Crisis – Article in Western Horseman Magazine


Please take the time to read the recent article by Ben Masters and published in Western Horseman Magazine, titled, “Mustangs In Crisis”.

Article Excerpts:

“For decades the BLM has tried to manage population sizes in the wild by gathering excess horses and offering them for adoption. The problem is that there aren’t enough adopters, so holding pens are filled to capacity. Approximately 45,000 wild horses and burros live in short-term pens and long-term pastures nationwide. They spend their lives in a non-wild, non-working situation. Those that become too old to function are euthanized. Each of these horses costs taxpayers an estimated $50,000 during its lifetime. In 2000, the BLM’s wild horse and burro program’s annual budget was $20.4 million. Today, the BLM’s budget is $80.4 million each year, and about $50 million of that goes toward feeding the horses in holding. Meanwhile, rangeland experts such as Perryman dread the consequences of the growing horse populations that remain in the wild. Their exponential rate of reproduction threatens the delicate desert ecosystems of the American West, predominantly in the Great Basin.”

“America’s wild horse dilemma won’t be resolved without much more extensive measures. This hot-button issue remains emotional, complex and misunderstood. Does a solution exist that protects the ecological integrity of America’s vast public lands while simultaneously addressing the overpopulation of its wild horse herds? Simply put, the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program—in its current form—is unsustainable,” says a statement released by the BLM.

“We have dysfunctionality in the box,” he says. “We can make the box bigger by taking away more land and forage from wildlife and livestock, but then we would just have more dysfunctionality in an even bigger box. This would buy us time, but eventually natural regulation will take place and horses could die by the thousands. When the public sees the horses starving to death, there will be an outcry for the BLM to gather them to save their lives. The horses will then be warehoused for the rest of their lives and saved. But what about the rangeland and everything that depends on it? How is it fair to the reptiles, songbirds, small mammals, pronghorn, ranchers, and future generations of people to inherit a degraded rangeland that we knew was being damaged and could’ve been prevented?”

Many wild horse advocacy groups have argued that wild horses are better off left alone. Through the years, large numbers of lawsuits against the BLM have halted various roundups, prevented research for spaying mares, and blocked the use of fertility control and the use of GPS collars to study wild horse movement. The situation with wild horses has been a contentious issue for decades, with fingers pointed at the BLM, advocacy groups, politicians and ranchers. Nearly everyone agrees that the plight of these horses is not improving. Few aware of the situation advise staying the course.

So what are the management options that could be used to bring the wild horse and burro program back on a sustainable track?

Full article in Western Horseman Magazine:

Read the complete article as well as a review of management options HERE.

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