PUBLIC LANDS -- The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to scale back costly roundups of wild horses.
In a news release issued Thursday, BLM officials said they will reduce the number of wild horses removed from the range by about one-quarter — to 7,600 per year. The agency also will expand the use of fertility controls and increase the number of animals adopted by individuals or groups. The bureau continues to oppose horse slaughter, which some in the West have advocated as a way to thin herds.
Other groups have called the past roundups inhumane.
The BLM can't win on this issue. But it's clear the land and wildlife habitat is losing the battle where wild horse herds have grown too large.
The new approach comes a week after the House approved an amendment to cut the agency’s budget by $2 million to protest the roundups. The program’s annual cost has tripled over the past decade to $66 million. Annual costs are expected to reach at least $85 million by 2012.
More than 38,000 wild horses and burros roam in Nevada, California, Wyoming and other Western states. An additional 40,000 animals are cared for in corrals and pastures in Kansas, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
An analysis of the public’s comments and a detailed proposed implementation strategy will be posted at www.blm.gov on Feb. 28. Public comments will be accepted through March 30 by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Comments on Strategy” in the subject line.