The BLM’s wild horse and burro program is like a pot on the stove coming to a boil. As the program’s troubles deepen, it seems like something is going to burst the lid off the pot.
One definite source of heat is the fact the program has not scheduled any horse gathers for 2014. Gathers remove excess animals from the 179 Herd Management Areas (HMA) across the West. Nevada contains half of the West’s wild horses and generally conducts two-four gathers each year on its 105 HMAs.
Alan Shepherd is the state lead for the BLM’s wild horse and burro program in Nevada. He said there is no money to conduct gathers and no place to put the horses gathered off the range. Only emergency gathers will take place, and removal of any nuisance horses. Gathers will take place in Wyoming, but only because of a court case requiring such gathers. He stated 80 percent of Nevada’s HMAs are over their Appropriate Management Levels and a majority of these HMAs would qualify to be gathered.
At the same time, a lawsuit has been filed by the Nevada Association of Counties and the Nevada Farm Bureau Federation, which stated the program is not managing the wild horses per the 1971 act. It stated wild horses are to be managed in a way that maintains ecological balance for all species on the HMA.
Another heat source is the 40,000 wild horses living on Western HMAs while the BLM’s Appropriate Management Levels said the land can only support 26,677 horses. The program maintains over 50,000 captive horses on long-term holding facilities, using up 64 percent of its proposed $77 million budget for 2014.
The wild horse program is out of ideas on how to maintain healthy wild herds along with maintaining 50,000 captive horses, so it is asking the public for ideas.
One obvious idea would be to remove (slaughter) the 50,000 captive horses so the program budget can be used to maintain the wild horse herds. However, the program stated it will not entertain any ideas causing harm to any horses.
The lid is beginning to rattle as steam escapes the pot.