BLM seeks better population control for feral horses and burros

The BLM wants more fertility control for feral horses and burros so overcrowded herds don’t use up all the water and food needed by other wildlife in Wyoming.

The Bureau of Land Management is seeking new contracted services to humanely round up, process and release feral horses and burros living on public lands. The contract is part of their efforts to increase fertility control for the benefit of herds, the landscape and other wildlife.

The BLM manages and protects wild horses and burros on 26.9 million acres of public lands in 10 western states as part of its mission to administer public lands for various purposes. The Wild Horse and Burro The program aims to manage healthy wild horses and donkeys on healthy public ranges.

Courtesy of BLM

The BLM plans to make up to $20 million available on a one-to-five basis for fertility control efforts, subject to government discretion based on future need or appropriation.

“Managing healthy herds of feral horses and burros on healthy public lands is a top priority for the Bureau of Land Management,” said director Tracy Stone-Manning. “BLM is focused on finding common sense solutions to protect our public lands and the species that depend on them, especially as we face the increasing effects of drought and climate change.”

Herds of wild horses and donkeys grow rapidly on public lands and can double every four or five years if left unmanaged. As of March 1, 2022, the BLM estimated there were more than 82,000 feral horses and burros on public lands, more than three times the appropriate number.

Overcrowded herds are at increased risk of starvation and thirst as they overexploit and degrade feed and water resources that are important to thousands of other wildlife species.

As extreme drought conditions continue in the West, these impacts are magnified. They have already led the BLM to take a record number of emergency actions last year to save animals.

“It is imperative that we do all we can to protect these national icons and other wildlife from the effects of drought and overpopulation,” Stone-Manning said. “Increasing the use of safe and humane methods of fertility control to help stabilize herd growth is an important part of our plan to protect these animals and their habitat. Our goal is to ensure that these animals can continue to survive and thrive on America’s public lands for generations to come. »

Although some animals can be checked for fertility with the help of partners and volunteers, most animals must be rounded up for treatment due to the vast and remote landscapes they inhabit. Nonetheless, all wild horse and burro management activities, including herding operations, must follow the handling standards required to prioritize animal care and welfare.

Due to BLM’s commitment to humane treatment, feral horse and donkey roundups have a very high success rate and serious injuries are extremely rare.

Contracts awarded under this solicitation will, under the supervision of BLM:

  • Perform feral horse and donkey herds using approved bait traps and helicopter-assisted methods
  • Apply assigned fertility control treatment,
  • Provide short-term care or custody as needed
  • Release animals on public land.

Contracts must be for one year, with the possibility of four option years. The solicitation closes at 10:00 a.m. MT on June 9, 2022. Access the solicitation.