RTF, a national non-profit advocacy organization, has worked since 1999 for policy changes to conserve wild horses and burros in the range by managing population growth through assured, safe, and humane fertility control as an alternative to costly and destructive tours and out-of-range government ownership of pens.
BLM announced this week that it is looking for contractors to process and release wild horses and burros and that it expects to make “up to” 20 million dollars Available over the next 1-5 years for this.
The work that RTF has done with other animal welfare groups and pasture stakeholders has led to broader acceptance of the need for fertility control in the management of wild horses and livestock, and for the first time, Congress has called for the use and funding of fertility control.
So far, the BLM has continued to respond to population numbers by aggressively removing wild horses from the range, but the RTF continues to pressure the agency to focus on fertility control.
“In our conversations with the new BLM leadership, we are cautiously optimistic that their focus and funding will shift to minimal intrusion in scope management,” Nada de Mayo, head of RTF. “Of course, we’ll have to see how it all goes, but we hope this signals a new culture for the agency’s Wild Horse and Burro program.”
DeMayo continued, “The agency does not currently have the infrastructure to effectively implement a sustainable fertility control program across the West, yet it can remove tens of thousands of wild horses at the drop of the hat. Hopefully the BLM will now channel the money toward adequate staffing for the Wild Horse Program.” and Burro, increasing range restoration projects, and using meaningful amounts of proven, safe and humane fertility control to begin the shift away from reconnaissance, capture, removal, and stockpiling of our wild horses. The Bell.”
The BLM’s fiscal year 2023 budget justification calls for 10,000 wild horses and burros to be removed from the range while 2,650 animals are permanently treated or sterilized.
RTF is strongly opposed to the permanent surgical sterilization of wild mares and wild races. The BLM previously had a rare procedure that removed the ovaries by crushing and pulling them with a medical instrument with a loop. This procedure is painful, potentially life-threatening and expensive. As recently as last year, BLM dropped a sterilization plan in response to a lawsuit by RTF.
RTF also opposes castrated stallions and their return to the range. The gill changes the behavior of free-roaming wild stallions and will require sterilization of all stallions in the herd to slow population growth. While neutering is more common and less dangerous than spaying mares, it is not without health risks.
Fertility control is a cost-effective, accessible and humane alternative to capturing and stocking wild horses as well as costly and risky sterilization methods.
The PZP fertility control vaccine has been shown to be effective and safe. A non-hormonal vaccine, it has minimal effects on behavior and has been proven successful across species, including range and in the RTF’s US Wild Horse Sanctuary, among other projects, over decades.
The latest BLM-wide estimate for wild and bell horses is 82,384 across herd management areas in 10 western states. The agency plans to remove a record 19,000 from the scale during the current fiscal year while treating only 2,500 through fertility control — a plan that RTF has described as “excessive and irresponsible, not least because the BLM is not equipped or willing to care for another 19,000 captive wild horses and burrows.” .
The RTF called on the agency to focus on immediate and robust implementation of fertility control and the relocation of wild horses living in barns to cost-effective, natural pastures.
In fiscal year 2021, BLM spent about $77 million On capturing and storing wild horses and tanks, about 68 percent of the Wild Horse and Burro Program budget. Never has as much as 4 percent of the program’s budget been spent on fertility control.
As of February, BLM was stocking 21,784 wild horses and burros in barns at a daily cost to taxpayers from 6.19 dollars for each horse. By comparison, it costs taxpayers $2.17 per horse per day to care for an additional 38,827 wild horses on leased or state pastures.
Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation (RTF) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to preserving wild horses through sanctuary, education, conservation, and advocacy since 1998. It also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary in three California Sites that graze over 450 wild horses and burrows. Follow us FacebookAnd Twitter, And Instagram For updates on wild horses and burros at the range and at our sanctuary.
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