An initiative regarding the management of the nearly 88,000 wild horses under the care of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is trending toward congressional approval. Nearly half of the wild horses live in Nevada; BLM officials report that Nevada's Appropriate Management Level is just under 13,000. The Appropriate Management Level is used to determine the number of horses and burros that can live and thrive on the land with all other uses of public land, including grazing and recreation.
In September, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an additional $35 million to be used to for the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program. Those supporting the bill say the funds will go directly toward curbing population growth while ensuring the horses will be treated humanely. These humane measures to be put in place include increasing adoption programs, moving horses from corrals to off-range pastures and ensuring that roundups of the horses are in compliance with welfare programs. The money will also be allocated for long-term contraceptive methods.
This proposal is made by Neda DeMayo, founder of Return to Freedom, an equine advocacy group. DeMayo, along with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), rangeland stakeholders, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and the Humane Society Legislative Fund introduced the proposal to Congress. In May of 2019, the House Appropriations Committee approved $6 million to be used for fertility-control methods and targeted equine removals.
DeMayo would like to eventually see roundups phased out, but understands this will not happen overnight. He believes that the proposal before Congress is the best step to move wild horse management in a humane and sustainable direction.
The proposal does have opponents, including Deniz Bolbol of the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates, who believes that he proposal is not a compromise as it still allows for roundups to take place. Bolbol believes that roundups are cruel and that increasing the number of horses in captivity makes them more vulnerable to going to slaughter.
Bolbol also feels that the BLM has exaggerated the number of wild horses it reported and that the organization has purposefully left out of reports how cattle ranchers have contributed to the degradation of public lands.
Read more at the Las Vegas Sun.
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