Bureau of Land Management seeks services to expand fertility control efforts for wild horses and burros


Bureau of Land Management

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As part of its efforts to increase the use of fertility control to slow the growth of wild horse and burro herds on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management is seeking new contract services to humanely gather, treat with fertility control, and then release wild horses and burros back to the range. The BLM anticipates making up to $20 million available over 1-5 years for these efforts, subject to the government’s discretion based on future needs or appropriations.

“Managing healthy wild horse and burro herds on healthy public lands is a top priority for the Bureau of Land Management,” said Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “The BLM is laser focused on finding common-sense solutions to protect our public lands and the species that depend on them, especially as we face growing effects of drought and climate change.” 

Wild horse and burro herds grow rapidly on public lands and can double every four or five years if not managed. As of March 1, 2022, the BLM estimated there were more than 82,000 wild horses and burros on public lands, which is more than three times the appropriate number. Overpopulated herds are put at increased risk for starvation and thirst, and they can over-use and degrade forage and water resources that are also important for thousands of other wildlife species that share public lands. As extreme drought conditions continue across the West, these impacts are amplified and have already caused the BLM to take a record number of emergency actions last year to save animals. 

“It’s imperative that we do all that we can to protect these national icons and other wildlife from the effects of drought and overpopulation,” said Stone-Manning. “Increasing the use of safe and humane fertility control methods to help stabilize herd growth is an important part of our plan to protect these animals and their habitat. Our goal is to ensure these animals can continue to survive and thrive on America’s public lands for generations to come.” 

Though some animals can be darted with fertility control with the help of partners and volunteers, most animals need to be gathered for treatment due to the large and remote landscapes they inhabit. All activities to manage wild horses and burros, including gather operations, must follow required handling standards to prioritize animal care and welfare. As a result of BLM’s commitment to humane treatment, wild horse and burro gathers have a very high success rate and serious injuries are exceedingly rare

Contracts awarded under this solicitation will, under BLM supervision, perform wild horse and burro gathers using approved bait-trap and helicopter-assisted methods, apply an assigned fertility control treatment, provide any care/short-term holding that may be required, and then release the animals back to public lands. Contracts must be for a period of one year, with the possibility of four option years. The solicitation closes 10 a.m. MT June 9, 2022. Access the solicitation

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.