Wild Horse &Burros
We're nearing the breaking point...
The Western range is quickly approaching a WH&B population of over 100,000 animals - four times what federal land managers have indicated as a healthy number for the range. Nevada is unique in that nearly half of these animals reside on our public lands.
The fact is, if these numbers are not curtailed soon, the ecological balance of the range may be altered beyond repair.
Horses, particularly wild ones, tend to conjure up images of majesty, strength, and unbridled freedom. Unfortunately, this is a distorted depiction of reality that Americans have fabricated with the help of dime store novels and Hollywood films.
First, North America’s wild horses are the feral descendants of animals brought by Europeans in the past few hundred years. Next, those you see today on the open range are primarily rejects, leftovers, and runaways from previously domesticated herds; often found carrying brands, halters, or horseshoes.
In the past few decades, overpopulation has caused serious environmental and economic challenges. Horses pulverize grasslands that are protected by “biotic crusts” which keep desert soils from being washed or blown away. This destruction leads to poor water absorption, reduced fertility, and damage to wildlife habitat. Furthermore, wild horses compete with deer, antelope, elk, and cattle for limited forage and water resources.
Our culture’s skewed perception of wild horses has allowed them to take precedence over all other native grazers and wildlife; animals that actually provide a lasting and renewable resource for society.
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act became Law in 1971.
Since receiving federal protection, wild horse and burro populations on public lands have soared, far exceeding what is healthy for the land and the animals.
The BLM spends two thirds of its Wild Horse and Burro Program budget to care for animals removed from the range. That’s over $50,000 for one unadopted horse that remains in a corral over its lifetime.
As wild horse and burro populations rise, there are serious consequences for the animals and the land. Horses and burros starve, dehydrate and wander onto private property or highways. Land health and habitat for sage grouse and other wildlife is being compromised.
Wild Horse & Burro statistics and graphics provided by the Bureau of Land Management WH&B infographic which can be downloaded here: