An amendment to the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill that would allow for humane wild horse and burro euthanasia is just what western ranchers need according to the Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), would rein in burdensome regulations that failed to allow for proper management, the groups said.
“As a native of Utah, I’m very proud of the leadership that Congressman Stewart has exhibited,” PLC president and Utah rancher Dave Eliason said. “He has seen firsthand the destruction that the overpopulation of wild horses has had on our rangelands and truly understands the issues faced by ranchers in the west and deserves credit for his work on this important issue.”
NCBA President, Craig Uden, feels this is an important milestone for western ranchers.
“Horse and burro populations on BLM lands have long exceeded Appropriate Management Levels and are damaging to ecosystem health,” Uden said. “Their population has an average growth of over 20 percent each year, and it is imperative that Congress continue to take steps to mitigate this issue.”
Overpopulation of wild horses and burros negatively impacts native wildlife, rangeland ecosystems, and rangeland access. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) uses science to monitor rangeland vegetation, soils, water, and wildlife habitat to determine appropriate management levels (AML) for wild horse and burros. The BLM estimates the current population of wild horse and burros exceeds 72,000, well above the maximum AML of 26,715.
Eliason emphasized that NCBA and PLC have long expressed concerns about wild horses and burros on federal land and will continue to support humane and ethical management practices of these animals.
“While this amendment does not solve the whole problem and there is still a great deal of work to do, the language would add one more tool to the toolbox and would provide the Bureau of Land Management more flexibility to manage this unsustainable population,” Eliason said.