The Bureau of Land Management renews humane treatment standards for wild horses and burros

New policy formalizes a comprehensive program to protect the well-being of wild horses and burros on public lands and directly under agency care

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The Bureau of Land Management today released guidance that affirms its long-standing commitment to assure the humane handling and treatment of wild horses and burros on public lands and under the agency’s care off the range. This longstanding practice and policy makes permanent the BLM’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program and reflects the agency’s commitment to transparency as it carries out its responsibilities to protect and manage wild horses and burros under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

“As we continue to implement the challenging mission of managing and protecting wild horses and burros on public lands, the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program supports our efforts to ensure the treatment of these living legends is based on compassion and concern for their well-being at all times,” said Deputy Director of Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley. 

The BLM’s Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program consolidates humane handling practices already in place for wild horse and burro gather operations, transportation and care at public events and in all off-range corrals. All BLM employees, contractors and partners involved with handling animals are required to adhere to the humane handling standards and will complete annual training as part of the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program.

The BLM developed the standards included in the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program in collaboration with animal welfare experts from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service - Veterinary Services. The standards will be reviewed periodically to incorporate the best available science, husbandry and handling practices applicable for wild horses and burros. 

Access the Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program policy on the BLM website:

This year, we invite everyone to reimagine your public lands as we celebrate 75 years of the BLM’s stewardship and service to the American people. The BLM manages approximately 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

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Bureau of Land Management