On June 18, the National Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition (Coalition) submitted a letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), thanking BLM for a recent report, Management Options for a Sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program, submitted to members of Congress that outlines issues and potential options for managing wild horses and burros on BLM lands.
The Coalition is comprised of a wide range of sportsmen, livestock, wildlife, and land conservation organizations and professional societies “focusing on commonsense, ecologically-sound approaches to managing horses and burros to promote healthy wildlife and rangelands for future generations.”
The report itself was produced in response to a Congressional request, and as noted by the Coalition, highlighted the significantly detrimental effects and impacts of excess wild horses and burros on public rangelands, as well as the challenges associated with effectively managing these populations.
In the letter, the Coalition posed a number of follow-up questions related to the report:
- Whether or not state fish and wildlife agencies and the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board were consulted in the development of proposed options for managing wild horses and burros on BLM lands;
- How BLM arrived at their projected estimates of wild horse and burro populations and rangeland habitat conditions related to each of their proposed management options;
- The number of trained veterinarians needed in order to carry out each proposed management option;
- The BLM’s plan for continuity of its ultimate wild horse and burro management plan as leadership in the BLM and Department of Interior changes with new Presidential administrations;
- BLM’s cost estimate for the unrestricted sale of wild horses and burros gathered on BLM rangelands; and
- The effect that escalating drought conditions on much of the western landscape will have on BLM’s need to remove thousands of horses in order to prevent inhumane living conditions.
As noted by the Coalition, responses provided by BLM to each of the questions posed in the aforementioned letter will assist Coalition members in determining the most viable solution for managing wild horses and burros on BLM lands. Wild horse and burros significantly exceed Appropriate Management Levels on many federal public land management parcels, causing significant damage to rangeland habitats and the native fish and wildlife species that rely on them.
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- Granting full management authority (stock assessments, management of both commercial and recreational sectors, etc.) to the five Gulf states. (35.00%)
- Extending the states’ current 9-mile management jurisdictions to 25 miles. (20.00%)
- Permanently allow each state to manage its recreational sector allocation out to 200 nautical miles. (20.00%)
- Use of more appropriate management models, such as rate of harvest, rather than the commercial hard-poundage quota system currently in place. (20.00%)
- Inclusion of additional, non-federal data in stock assessments. (5.00%)