The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s (CSF) Pacific States Assistant Manager Keely Hopkins was recently elected to serve as the Vice Chair of the National Horse and Burro Rangeland Management Coalition (NHBRMC). The NHBRMC is comprised of a wide range of sportsmen’s, wildlife, and land conservation organizations. The coalition collectively represents over eight million Americans and focuses on common sense, ecologically-sound approaches to manage wild horse and burro populations to promote healthy wildlife and rangelands for future generations.
There are over 100,000 wild horses and burros in the United States, with around 50% of those residing in Nevada. These current population levels are roughly 400% over the Appropriate Management Level (AML) that is needed to sustain the ecosystems upon which they rely. This extreme overpopulation has caused severe damage to vegetation and riparian systems, which in turn has negatively impacted wildlife, native fish populations, and has even imperiled the wild horses themselves. This current, extreme overpopulation is compounded by wild horse populations increasing 15-20% each year, thereby almost doubling the overall population every four years.
Wild horses and burros received protection from Congress in 1971 under the Wild-Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act (HFRHBA), which specifies that wild horses and burros shall be managed in a manner that produces a thriving ecological balance.
“I’m looking forward to working with NHBRMC Chair Mary Scott and all coalition partners on this important issue. Wild horse and burro management is critical to conserving our public lands, native vegetation, and riparian areas, “stated Hopkins. “It’s beyond time to return to the healthy equilibrium that was intended by the WFRHBA – for health and well-being of the wild horses themselves – but also to conserve the delicate ecosystem that all wildlife and fish species depend on for survival.”
The coalition is led by Chair Mary Scott of the National Association of Conservation Districts, and includes representation from numerous sportsmen’s and conservation organizations, such as Safari Club International, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the Mule Deer Foundation, among others.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?