BLM seeks to address increase in wild horses and burros on publi - KPTV - FOX 12

BLM seeks to address increase in wild horses and burros on public rangelands

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Courtesy: Bureau of Land Management Oregon & Washington Courtesy: Bureau of Land Management Oregon & Washington

The Bureau of Land Management Oregon & Washington announced Friday that as of March 1, more than 67,000 wild horses and burros are roaming Western Public Rangelands.

This is a 15% increase over the estimated 2015 population.

According to the Bureau of Land Management, the updated numbers show more than twice the number of horses on the range than is recommended under BLM land use plans.

It is also two and a half times the number of horses and burros that were estimated to be in existence when the Wild and Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed in 1971.

While herds of wild horses consistently double in size every four years, there has also been a dramatic decrease in adoptions in recent years.

In the early 2000s, nearly 8,000 horses were being placed with private adopters each year according to the Bureau of Land Management. Due to a number of economic factors, that number is now down to roughly 2,500 animals each year.

To address the issue, the Bureau of Land Management wants to sponsor a significant research program focused on fertility control; transitioning horses from off-range corrals to more cost-effective pastures; working to increase adoptions with new programs and partnerships; and requesting two new pieces of legislative authority, one to allow for the immediate transfer of horses to other agencies that have a need for work animals and one that would create a congressionally-chartered foundation that could help fund and support adoption efforts.

"Over the past seven years we have doubled the amount of funding used for managing our nation's wild horses and burros," said BLM Director Neil Kornze. "Despite this, major shifts in the adoption market and the absence of a long-term fertility control drug have driven population levels higher. A number of program reforms are underway, but assistance is needed from our local, state, and federal partners."

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