BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program in a Death Spiral | Straight from the Horse’s Heart

Open Letter by Author Terry Farley

“BLM’s wild horse and burro math is statistically bizarre…”

As a journalist, I first interviewed BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program staffers in 1976, shortly after I moved to Nevada. Since then, I’ve followed the program’s death spiral.

Those who say wild horses and burros ruin the range claim there are too many of them, and yet there’s little agreement about how many wild equines remain on America’s public lands.

BLM’s wild horse and burro math is statistically bizarre. Even the National Academy of Sciences, charged by BLM to analyze the program (2013) concluded: “The Wild Horse and Burro Program has not used scientifically rigorous methods to estimate the population sizes of horses and burros …”

NAS warned “continuation of business-as-usual practices will be expensive and unproductive for BLM and the public it serves.” Worse, NAS pointed out that BLM’s lack of science has actually backfired on its stated goal of protecting the range.

BLM’s reaction? Keep paying independent contractors to chase, trap and corral the West’s remaining wild horses and offer $10 million to anyone who found a new means of mustang birth control.

BLM asked for a new method because PZP “didn’t work,” ignoring recent science and BLM personnel who admitted that — counter to instructions – contraceptives are not always kept frozen or even cold in the field.

Band dynamics: During round-ups, family bands are shattered, routinely divided into stallions, mares and contractor-determined weanlings. Horses are prey animals. They know safety is with the band and the resulting cacophony and blood of these separations is haunting. Fewer than 2 percent are ever reunited.

Injury: Compare injection site abscess to BLM documentation of a single round-up in which 113 mustangs died. Death from shattered pelvises, broken necks, skulls and spine were sometime attributed to natural causes or pre-existing conditions. Those diagnoses would strain my credulity even if I hadn’t been there.

If you still oppose contraception, please consider this: Proponents of selling wild horses without limitation have made in-roads at BLM and those who’d destroy mustang captives as they stand in government pens have visited the White House.

The extermination of a Western icon is near, and your choice can hasten or slow its approach.

PZP is reversible. Death is final.

Source: BLM’s Wild Horse & Burro Program in a Death Spiral | Straight from the Horse’s Heart

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