Report says BLM mishandling western horse, burro population

June 05, 2013

A national panel of wildlife experts says the federal government is mishandling the mustang and burro population in the Western United States. The panel also reports the bureau of Land management is undercounting the population, suggesting the problem is worse than reported in the past.

NADINE ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: The 14-member panel of animal experts says rounding-up thousands of free-ranging mustangs and burros into a holding area is a short-term solution. For years, the BLM has come under fire for using the round-ups to control the population. In a 451-page report, the panel says the practice is producing artificial conditions that do the opposite. It’s increasing population. It recommends halting the round-ups and suggests the continued use of fertility control options. The committee also recommends letting mother-nature do the limiting. BLM spokesperson Tom Gorey says that’s a difficult solution to consider. 

TOM GOREY: What that means is that we would let the horse population and burro population explode to the point there would mass die-offs through starvation or dehydration. That is a management philosophy that we have not subscribed to.

ARROYO RODRIGUEZ: Gorey says BLM is looking for a less abrasive solution. In the meantime, he says, BLM will continue to follow the 1971 law requiring the agency to remove and hold wild horses and burros when the population grows.

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