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.

(4) comments


Nobody wants to say what really needs to be done. But it is obvious to all !!
In china they have they have the same problem with human population,
But they are human. Not animals


This article is silly. And sort of like Hetta the Hen. Who shall run with this author shouting "the sky is falling, the sky is falling!" If, as this author restates, there is a pot boiling it is that BLM is having to deal with the recklessness in which they have operated under Salazar. Scientists all over the US who have taken the time to study the situation find the best soliution is to reduce livestock grazing and leave the horses alone. Simple solution to turn the fire down.


With incendiary headlines, Elko DFP is certainly stirring the pot, adding fuel to the fire. There are 85 HMAs in Nevada, not 105. Most of the HMAs have AMLs set below minimum viable population. BLM fails to keep a studbook or practice careful genetic management. Many AMLs are preposterous, such as Montezuma Peak's 4 horses on 78,000 acres, and Silver Peak's 6 burros on 242,000 acres. The AMLs in Nevada reflect an average stocking-rate of one wild horse or burro per 1,230 acres (~2 square miles).


The NAS (National Academy of Science) turned in their study to the BLM of the Wild Horse & Burro Program and found many problems with criteria, data collection, and others. Their ideas are pragmatic and make sense. Our WH&B should be managed 'exclusively', not primarily, on their legally designated land. This way, there is no competition from 'multiple uses'. The horses that are in holding facilities are all sterilized. Set them free on their land and develop a true program based on NAS facts.

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