BLM Logo
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT NEWS RELEASE
Washington Office Division of Public Affairs
 
Release Date: 09/23/11
Contacts: Tom Gorey , 202-912-7420  

BLM Establishes Team to Review Recently Completed Triple B Gather in Nevada


Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey announced today that he is calling for a review of the adequacy of existing operating procedures that relate to instances of alleged animal abuse during the recently completed Triple B wild horse gather carried out in Nevada in a complex northwest of Ely and southeast of Elko. More than 1,200 wild horses were gathered and removed during the gather, toward the end of which U.S. District Judge Howard D. McKibben granted a Temporary Restraining Order to plaintiffs opposed to the gather because of his concern that a helicopter was flying too close to a horse being rounded up.

The review, to be conducted by a team of BLM employees who will be able to consult with specific non-BLM experts, will look at several incidents, some of which have been videotaped by the public. “The team will carefully review the incidents to determine what happened and to assess the gather operations,” said Abbey. “The review and findings will inform the Bureau’s development of a comprehensive animal welfare plan for the Wild Horse and Burro Program.”

Abbey added, “This fact-finding review is aimed at advancing the BLM’s ongoing efforts to strengthen humane animal care and handling practices.  Any resulting changes in Bureau-wide standard operating procedures will apply to gather contractors, BLM employees, and volunteers.” The findings of the review, which complements the BLM’s effort to make the Wild Horse and Burro Program as transparent as possible, will be posted on the Internet (at www.blm.gov).

The BLM estimates that approximately 38,500 wild horses and burros (about 33,000 horses and 5,500 burros) are roaming on BLM-managed rangelands in 10 Western states based on the latest data available, compiled as of February 28, 2011. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years – even with increased efforts to administer fertility control to wild horse mares. As a result, the agency must remove thousands of animals from the range each year to protect rangeland resources, such as wildlife habitat, from the impacts of overpopulation. The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act mandates that once the Interior Secretary “determines...that an overpopulation exists on a given area of the public lands…he shall immediately remove excess animals from the range so as to achieve appropriate management levels.” In Fiscal Year 2010, the BLM removed 10,255 wild horses and burros (9,715 horses and 540 burros) from public rangelands as part of its overall mission to ensure the health of Western public lands for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations.

The estimated current free-roaming population exceeds by nearly 12,000 the number that the BLM has determined can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses. Off the range, there are more than 40,000 other wild horses and burros that are fed and cared for at short-term corrals and Midwestern long-term pastures. In the most recently completed fiscal year (2010), holding costs accounted for $36.9 million (or 57 percent) of the total enacted Wild Horse and Burro Program budget of $63.9 million. The Government Accountability Office, in an October 2008 report, found the program’s mounting holding costs to be unsustainable.

In response, the BLM is finalizing a new wild horse and burro management strategy as part of its ongoing effort to reform the Wild Horse and Burro Program and put it on a cost-effective, sustainable track.



The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2013, the BLM generated $4.7 billion in receipts from public lands.
--BLM--

Washington Office Division of Public Affairs   1849 C Street N.W.      Washington, DC 20240  

Last updated: 09-23-2011