Herd Areas and Herd Management Areas
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in California manages 15.2 million acres of public land, with an additional 1.6 million acres in Northwestern Nevada. The Free Roaming Wild Horse and Burro population covers 7.1 acres of this land with an additional 2.3 million acres of non-BLM land. Populations of both wild horses and burros exist in California. When the appropriate management level is reached there will be 1,746 horses and 453 burros on the California ranges.
Herd Areas (HAs) are those geographic areas where wild horses and/or burros were found at the passage of the Wild Horse and Burros Act in 1971. Herd Management Areas (HMAs) are those areas within Herd Areas where the decision has been made, through Land Use Plans, to manage for populations of wild horses and/or burros. There are 33 Herd Areas and 22 Herd Management Areas within California.
Each Herd Management Area has an Appropriate Management Level (AML) that states the minimum and maximum number of animals that can inhabit an area. Appropriate Management Levels have been determined through rangeland monitoring studies, taking into consideration other natural resources such as vegetation and wildlife, and other uses such as livestock grazing and recreation on the public lands.
The overall goal is to preserve the health of the land and water resources by managing wild horse and burro populations so as to restore and maintain a thriving ecological balance. Wild horse and burro populations are managed through periodic removals. Excess animals from the removals are offered to the public through the Bureau of Land Management’s Adopt a Horse or Burro Program.