$1 Billion Shortfall Caused By Mustang Herd Growth, Says BLM

by | 05.23.2016 | 11:35am

The majority of the more than $1 billion revenue shortfall by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is caused by the cost of caring for the thousands of horses residing in long-term holding facilities, the entity claims. However, some Mustang advocates believe that the gap is not because of herd overpopulation, but the agency's failure to effectively manage the animals.

As of March 1, more than 67,000 wild horses and burros roam Western public rangelands, the BLM said in a press release. That figure is a 15 percent increase over the estimated 2015 population. Additionally, 46,000 Mustangs reside in long-term BLM holding facilities.

The agency reported that wild-horse herds double in size every four years. Meanwhile, Mustang adoptions have decreased from 8,000 horses annually in the early 2000s to roughly 2,500 in recent years, reports The Horse. The cost of caring for those unadopted animals, is substantial, the agency said.

Lifetime care cost for a corralled animal is about $50,000 per horse, reports the BLM. This means that the BLM will spend more than $1 billion to care for and feed the 46,000 horses in off-range corrals. With such an impressive financial commitment, the BLM is limited in how many animals it can afford to remove from rangelands.

The BLM is taking a number of steps to address this issue, says The Horse. These include investigating fertility control; transitioning horses from off-range corrals to more cost-effective pastures; working to increase adoptions; and requesting two new pieces of legislative authority.

Some wild-horse advocates believe that the agency's claims of overpopulation are blown out of proportion.

Read more about this issue at The Horse

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