Rangelands Are In Crisis

Romney and Lee

Overpopulated Wild Horses and Burros on Federal Land

Mike Lee
Mike Lee

GOP Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, both of Utah, want to strike a regulation barring federal range land officials from euthanizing wild horses and burros.

Lee and Romney co-signed a letter to the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies under the Committee on Appropriations. GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska chairs the subcommittee while Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico serves as the ranking member.

“Western rangelands are in crisis. The current populations of wild horses and burros is devastating the land, negatively impacting other species living in the area, and prohibiting an effective multiple-use management of the land,” Lee and Romney wrote in a letter dated May 3, obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forestry Service (USFS), two agencies under the Interior department, are tasked with managing increasingly overpopulated wild horses and burros on federal land. Horse and burro populations are roughly triple what experts say the land can support. (RELATED: Overcrowded Wild Mustangs Are Starving To Death By The Hundreds)

Since 2011, Congress has attached a rider to Interior’s appropriations bill prohibiting officials from euthanizing horses or giving or selling animals to people who intend to have the animals slaughtered. From 2011 to 2019, the wild horse and burro population has more than doubled, according to the letter.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Reno, Nevada October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Reno, Nevada October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney

“Removing this rider would greatly serve the health of both these animals and the rangeland,” Lee and Romney wrote. “Left unaddressed, the problem will only get worse, to the detriment of the environment and at the expense of the American taxpayer.”

The Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 directs BLM and USFS personnel to “remove excess animals from the range so as to achieve appropriate management levels.”

The BLM and USFS typically put animals up for adoption or inject them with contraception drugs to control the population. Neither strategy has proven effective at blunting the growing overpopulation.

The federal agencies routinely round up hundreds of horses and burros to stick in federal corrals or place them with private ranches that are paid to care for the animals. The strategy has removed many animals from the land, but at an immense cost to taxpayers. The BLM spent $48 million, nearly 60 percent of its budget, on maintaining holding facilities in 2017.

Previous ArticleNext Article
Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *