Animal Health, Maintenance, Evaluation and Response

IM 2015-070
Instruction Memorandum


March 4, 2015


In Reply Refer To:

4750 (260) P



Instruction Memorandum No. 2015-070

Expires:  09/30/2018

To:                   All Field Office Officials (except Alaska)

From:               Assistant Director, Renewable Resources and Planning

Subject:           Animal Health, Maintenance, Evaluation and Response

Program Area:  Wild Horse and Burro (WH&B) Program

Purpose:  The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to establish policy and procedures for the proactive and preventative medical care of animals managed by the WH&B Program including deworming, vaccination, evaluation of animal condition and determination of an appropriate end-of-life action when indicated for reasons of an act of mercy, health or safety.

Policy/Action: Effective immediately, all Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Washington DC, state, district, and field offices must comply with the policies described in this IM.  The key contents of this policy are:

  • Deworming and vaccination schedule, diseases to vaccinate against and frequency of treatment (Attachment 1).
  • Animal evaluation and response that includes evaluating animal health, body condition scoring, and the authority, training, approved methods, reporting documentation and reasons for ending an animal’s life as an act of mercy, health or safety (Attachment 2, 3 and 4).

Timeframe:  All portions of this policy are effective immediately with the exception of the formal training requirements identified in Attachment 2.  For a period of three months from the date of issuance of this policy, personnel who already have experience performing euthanasia but have not yet received formal training may continue to do so for emergency situations when a trained person is not immediately available, as a last resort.  After this time, only personnel trained by a veterinarian may end an animal’s life as an act of mercy, health or safety.

Budget Impact:  This memorandum is a reissuance and an update of existing policy with minimal changes.  This reissued guidance does not result in costs beyond those already incurred under existing policy except for the additional training requirements for personnel authorized to end an animal’s life.  The cost for the required training is about $250 per person depending on the training venue.  The cost of vaccinations and deworming for animals in off-range corrals is $85 during the first year and $40 annually thereafter for booster vaccinations.  Annual deworming and vaccinations are not administered to animals in off-range pastures.  The cost to end an animal’s life ranges from $50 to $250 depending on circumstances.

Background:  The authority for ending a wild horse or burro’s life is provided by Public Law 92-195, Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 Section 1333 (b)(2)(A) and 43 CFR 4730.l.  The policy contained in this IM amends and/or replaces previous policies contained in BLM Manual 4750-1 Wild Horse and Burro Preparation and Management Handbook and in BLM Manual H-4700-1 Wild Horses and Burros Management Handbook.

The administration of vaccines and dewormer to the wild horses and burros removed from the public lands and maintained at off-range corrals has been a long-standing practice within the Wild Horse and Burro Program and is a required health care standard operating procedure.  Decisions to end a wild horse or burro’s life for reasons related to acts of mercy, health, and safety require that the BLM evaluate individual animals affected by injury, physical defect, acute, chronic or incurable disease, severe tooth loss, poor condition, old age or behavior characteristics posing safety hazards to handlers.  During gathers, the animal’s ability to survive the stress of removal and its probability of surviving on the range, as well as the animal’s welfare and potential for suffering if released or transported to a BLM off-range preparation facility, are all considered.  Humane, long-term care of wild horses and burros located at off-range corrals, pastures, ecosanctuaries and other facilities require periodic evaluation of their condition by qualified BLM personnel or a veterinarian to provide for their well-being.  These evaluations will, at times, result in decisions that require ending an animal’s life.

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  BLM Manual 4750-1 Wild Horse and Burro Preparation, Chapter III - Identification and Basic Health Care will need to be amended to provide for rabies and West Nile vaccinations required by this and previous IMs. The Wild Horses and Burros Management Handbook, H-4700-1 section 4.9 is superseded by this IM and replaced in its entirety.

Coordination:  This IM was coordinated among WO-200, WO-260, WO-600, WH&B state leads, WH&B specialists, and WH&B facility managers.

Contact:  Any questions regarding this IM can be directed to Joan Guilfoyle, Division Chief, Wild Horse and Burro Program (WO-260), at 202-912-7260.



Signed by:                                                                   Authenticated by:

Shelley J. Smith                                                          Robert M. Williams

Acting, Deputy Assistant Director                             Division of IRM Governance,WO-860

Resources and Planning



4 Attachments

       1 - De-worming and Vaccination Schedule (1 p)

       2 - Animal Evaluation and Response (9 pp)

       3 - Henneke Equine Body Scoring Chart (1 p)

       4 - Final Gather Data Report (2 pp)