Wild Horse and Burro Quick Facts

Contact: Tom Gorey, BLM Public Affairs (202-912-7420)

Updated as of July 7, 2015

The Bureau of Land Management manages, protects, and controls wild horses and burros under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (as amended by Congress in 1976, 1978, 1996, and 2004). This law authorizes the BLM to remove excess wild horses and burros from the range to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands. The BLM also manages the nation’s public lands for multiple uses, in accordance with the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act. The Bureau manages wild horses and burros as part of this multiple-use mandate.

Below are key statistics related to the Wild Horse and Burro Program. More complete information, including historical figures, can be found on the data page. In addition, more information on how the BLM obtains wild horse and burro population estimates can be found on the Rangeland and Herd Management and Science and Research pages.

Wild Horse and Burro Population Estimates

As of March 1, 2014

As required under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the BLM conducts an annual population inventory to estimate the number of wild horses and burros roaming on Western public rangelands. The Appropriate Management Level (AML) is the number of wild horse and burros that the BLM has determined can exist in balance with other public land resources and uses. Click here to learn more about how the BLM estimates wild horse and burro populations.

State

Horses

Burros

Total

Max. AML

Arizona

333

4,411

4,744

1,676

California

4,086

1,922

6,008

2,184

Colorado

1,205

0

1,205

812

Idaho

668

0

668

617

Montana

160

0

160

120

Nevada

23,347

1,688

25,035

12,796

New Mexico

146

0

146

83

Oregon

3,120

60

3,180

2,715

Utah

3,979

313

4,292

1,956

Wyoming

3,771

0

3,771

3,725

Total

40,815

8,394

49,209

26,684

Population Growth-Suppression Treatments

In a June 2013 report, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) found that no highly effective, easily delivered, and affordable fertility-control methods were currently available to manage wild horse and burro population growth; the NAS also urged the BLM to use research better tools. The currently available fertility control vaccine, known as porcine zona pellucida (PZP), is limited in the duration of its effectiveness – up to 22 months for a formulation that must be hand-injected into a wild horse. A second formulation of PZP can be deployed via ground-darting, but is effective for only up to one year. This formulation is not a viable fertility-control option for most wild horse herds because of (1) the animals’ propensity to avoid human contact and (2) the vast sizes of herd ranges, which make it difficult to locate and track individual horses. Learn more here about the BLM's fertility control efforts for wild horses and burros.

 

PZP

PZP-22

Total

Fiscal Year 2014

319

65

384

FY 2013

199

310

509

FY 2012

162

883

1,045


TOPICS

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Adoption and Sales Programs

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Video Clip:  Below is a two-minute video from June 2012 of the BLM's second annual tour of a pasture holding facility in El Dorado, Kansas. To view a larger version of this video, select this link.


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Wild Horse and Burro Acreage

In 1971, when Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, these animals were found roaming across 53.8 million acres of public land, known as Herd Areas, of which 42.4 million acres were under the BLM’s jurisdiction. Today, the BLM manages wild horses in subsets of these Herd Areas, known as Herd Management Areas (HMAs). Under the 1971 Act, horses and burros may not be re-located to other public lands where they were not found roaming when the law was passed.

Total Number of Herd Management Areas

179

Total Acreage of Herd Management Areas

31.6 million acres

Herd Management Area Acreage Managed by BLM

26.9 million acres

 

Wild Horse and Burro Population in BLM's Off-Range Corrals and Pastures

All wild horses and burros in holding, like those roaming Western public rangelands, are protected by the BLM under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, as amended. The BLM maintains a monthly facilities report, which can be found by clicking on the desired fiscal year: FY-2015, FY-2014, FY-2013, FY-2012, and FY-2011. The total capacity of all BLM off-range holding facilities is 50,929 animals.

(As of June 2015)

Horses

Burros

Total

Off-Range Corrals

15,904

XXX

15,904

Off-Range Pastures

30,326

0

30,280

Eco-sanctuaries

443

0

443

Total Off-Range Population

46,673

XXX

46,673

Wild Horse and Burro Removals

Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes can double about every four years. As a result, the BLM removes thousands of animals from the range each year as part of its efforts to control herd sizes.

 

Horses

Burros

Total

Removals in Fiscal Year 2014

1,695

168

1,863

Removals in FY 2013

4,064

112

4,176

Removals in FY 2012

7,242

1,013

8,255

Wild Horse and Burro Adoptions into Private Care

The BLM offers wild horses and burros that were removed from the range for adoption into private care. Potential adopters can attend an offsite adoption event, visit a BLM adoption facility, or participate in an Internet Adoption event. For general questions on adopting a wild horse or burro, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.  

 

Horses

Burros

Total

Animals Adopted in Fiscal Year 2014

1,789

346

2,135

Animals Adopted in FY 2013

2,033

278

2,311

Animals Adopted in FY 2012

2,232

351

2,583

Wild Horse and Burro Sales into Private Care

About 8,400 wild horses and burros immediately became eligible for sale under the December 2004 sale-authority law (the so-called "Burns Amendment"), which directs the BLM to sell "without limitation" to any willing buyers animals that are either more than 10 years old or have been passed over for adoption at least three times. Since 2005, the BLM has sold more than 5,500 horses and burros. It has been and remains the policy of the BLM, despite the unrestricted sales authority of the Burns Amendment, not to sell or send any wild horses or burros to slaughterhouses or to "kill buyers."

 

Horses

Burros

Total

Animals Sold in Fiscal Year 2014

23

64

 87

Animals Sold in FY 2013

22

43

 65

Animals Sold in FY 2012

320

82

 402

Wild Horse and Burro Program Budget

 

Dollars (in millions)

% Budget

Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations

$77.245

 
Total FY 2014 Expenditures

$67.9

 
Off-Range Holding Costs

$43.235

63%

Gathers and Removals

$1.2

2%

Adoptions

$4.6

7%

Other Activities (monitoring, etc.)

$18.865

27%