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BLM solicits help in expanding wild horse fertility control

A fenced area with wild horses and hay on the ground. Many of the horses are eating the hay.
BLM Nevada
Wild horses are fed and watered after the BLM's Eagle Complex wild horse gather in early 2021.

The Bureau of Land Management estimates there are more than 82,000 wild horses and burros roaming the West. That’s more than three times what it considers a manageable amount.

Now, the agency is awarding up to $20 million over the next five years to contractors that can humanely gather the animals and treat them with fertility-control vaccines. They would then be released back to public lands.

“Managing healthy wild horse and burro herds on healthy public lands is a top priority for the Bureau of Land Management,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement announcing the solicitation. “The BLM is laser-focused on finding common-sense solutions to protect our public lands and the species that depend on them, especially as we face growing effects of drought and climate change.”

Holly Gann Bice of the American Wild Horse Campaign, an advocacy group that’s been critical of the BLM’s wild horse management, applauds the move.

“It would mark a significant shift towards humane on-range management of wild horses and away from cruel, costly helicopter roundups,” Gann Bice said.

Nevada’s home to roughly half of the wild horses and burros on federal public lands, and those 46,000 animals are more than three times what the BLM estimates the land in the state can sustain. New Mexico also has more than three times its manageable level, and Colorado has more than double.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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