Wild Horse Advocates Critical of BLM Announcement Regarding New Research to Curb Wild Horse Population Growth

Washington, DC (July 7, 2015). . . . Today the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign issued the following statement regarding the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announcement that it will spend $11 million over the next five years on eight  research projects to curb population growth of wild horses on the range:

“This is a very disappointing and troubling announcement. Instead of utilizing the humane birth control technology currently available, the BLM is pursuing a destructive path that will subject wild horses to highly invasive surgical procedures, many of which will render them permanently sterilized and will alter their natural, wild free-roaming behaviors that are protected under federal law.

Permanent sterilization of wild horses should be off the table, because it is a recipe for managing to extinction by further contributing to the genetic crisis facing wild horses and burros under BLM management. Any methods that alter natural behaviors should be eliminated, because these behaviors are necessary for ‘the maintenance of social organization, band integrity and expression of a natural behavior repertoire,’ which the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) identified as important.  

In 2013, the NAS issued a comprehensive review of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program. The NAS report specifically recommended against actions that would alter wild horse natural behaviors, which are essential to the survival of these animals in the wild, and would subject wild horses to invasive surgical procedures in a field setting.

The recent NAS panel review of the research proposals was not a transparent process, and the public was not informed of the opportunity to participate. The actual recommendations of the NAS committee that reviewed the research proposals for the BLM are being withheld from the public, as are details of the research itself -- including names of principal investigators, research grant award amounts and location of research to be conducted. 

The BLM is continuing to kick the can down the road, spending tax dollars for research on potentially devastating methods of population control, while vastly under-utilizing the best available management tool, PZP fertility control, that is widely accepted by the scientific community and the public at large.”

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. AWHPC’s founding organization, Return to Freedom (RTF), a national non-profit dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education and conservation, also operates sanctuaries on the Central California Coast.

The NAS recommendation letter to the BLM can be downloaded here. However, Appendices A & B, which contain the committee's actual recommenations, are classified as "nonpublic."

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