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Wild horse updates: Activists sue over corrals; BLM opens grants


The Bureau of Land Management has hit another roadblock in the contracting of the nation’s largest off-range holding facility in the form of lawsuits by wild horse activists. In the meantime, funding is now available for partnerships looking to help manage and protect wild horses and burros. 

»Related: Overpopulated wild horses cause concern in western rangeland

Since 2020, the BLM has been working to contract and complete environmental assessments for Winnemucca’s off-range corrals in Nevada. The potential corrals will be the largest of their kind — holding 4,000 head allowing for short-term holding and transfer to off-range pastures and adoption areas around the country. 

The animal-activist group Friends of Animals, however, filed a lawsuit last week against the BLM alleging that the bureau did not adhere to legal requirements during the contracting process. One such activist group alleges that corrals will inhumanely hold horses for months or years in unfit conditions.

BLM grants open or wild horse management

Meanwhile, the BLM has announced a new opportunity for partnerships that will hopefully better support the management of wild horse and burro populations. New grants to local and state governments, tribes, and other federal agencies and non-profit organizations are available in amounts of $1,000 up to $7.5 million.

Grant partnerships should be formed to support critical activities to better manage wild herds. Some of the more productive examples offered by the BLM include darting of wild horses with birth-control vaccines and facilitating placement of excess animals into private care. Other examples provided include building habitat improvements and providing public educational activities. To learn more about submitting an application, click here.

By Viola90

While the thought of activist organizations holding education events may be cause for concern, the viability of funding local resources to respond to the overpopulation crisis may be productive, positive news for rangelands and public lands ranchers alike. 

Why do wild horses matter?

Overpopulation of wild horses and burros on rangelands has long been a concern for BLM management, ranchers, and the lands that they inhabit. As of March 2022, the population of wild horses is still three times the appropriate management level that the rangeland resources can handle. 

Wild horse numbers, however, are decreasing. Since 2021, there has been a reduction of over 3,800 head of animals. Since 2018, BLM has removed over 50,000 animals and treated more than 3,200 with fertility control. 

Current horse and burro populations are estimated at around 82,384 animals, and the appropriate management level for these animals lies around 27,000 animals. Continued droughts and overstocking have led to habitat degradation and risk for food and water scarcity to wild horses, cattle, and other native wildlife populations. 

»Related: Editorial: Hungry enough for horse? Why horse slaughter makes sense

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