The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Public Lands Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, and Society for Range Management today announced support for a proposal to reduce wild horse and burro populations on western rangelands. The proposal, titled “The Path Forward for Management of the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horses and Burros,” is the result of several months of discussions among representatives from diverse stakeholder groups, including humane advocates, livestock producers, local governments, and rangeland management professionals. The proposal focuses on the congressional appropriations process and does not recommend any amendments to the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
“In the current political environment, this proposal represents the best opportunity to address the growing wild horse and burro population crisis in the West by finally making substantial, year-over-year progress towards Appropriate Management Level,” said Ethan Lane, Senior Executive Director for NCBA Federal Lands and Executive Director of PLC. “If Congress does not act immediately, the BLM will not have the necessary resources to carry out their statutory obligation to manage these animals.”
“Each of the stakeholders involved in this proposal had to set aside some long-held positions in order to reach this agreement,” said Ryan Yates, Director of Congressional Relations for AFBF. “While it was difficult for us to cede some tools authorized by the WFRHBA, including sale-without-restriction, we are hopeful that this good-faith effort will soon be rewarded with healthy populations range-wide.”
Lia Biondo, DC Liaison for SRM, added, “Western rangelands are at a critical tipping point, and our hope is that the common ground reached in this proposal will finally result in measurable outcomes on the range and a pathway toward recovery.”
The proposal, if fully implemented, would increase BLM’s capacity to gather horses and burros in overpopulated areas; administer population-growth-suppressant to healthy animals at gather; and increase use of long-term, pasture-based holding for older horses.