Program Data

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 as part of annual Public Lands Statistics reported by the BLM.  In addition, information on how the Bureau estimates the on-range wild horse and burro population on BLM-managed lands can be found on our Science and Research page.

Most recent nationwide wild horse and burro population estimate, as of March 1, 2021: 86,189 animals

At a glance

Fiscal Year 2021

Nationwide population estimates:* 86,189
Download the full population estimate data set

*As of March 1, 2021

Fiscal Year 2020

Nationwide population estimates:* 95,114
Download the full population estimate data set
Total removed: 10,824
Total placed into private care: 6,162
Total fertility control treatments: 735
Total expenditures: $91.191 million

*As of March 1, 2020

Latest On-Range Population Estimates

Wild Horse and Burro On-Range Population Estimates

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 BLM-managed lands in the West. To promote healthy conditions on the range, the BLM determines what it calls the Appropriate Management Level (AML), which is the number of wild horses and burros that can thrive in balance with other public land resources and uses. Wild horses and burros that exceed AML (which is 26,785) are to be removed from the range, in accordance with the 1971 law, as amended. The current estimated on-range wild horse and burro population (as of March 1, 2021) is 86,189 animals. 

State Horses Burros Total Max. AML
Arizona 539 6,622 7,161 1,676
California 7,312 3,257 10,569 2,200
Colorado 2,412 0 2,412 827
Idaho 639 0 639 617
Montana 180 0 180 120
Nevada 42,994 4,087 47,081 12,811
New Mexico 237 0 237 83
Oregon 6,009 39 6,048 2,700
Utah 3,672 449 4,121 1,956
Wyoming 7,741 0 7,741 3,795
Total 71,735 14,454 86,189 26,785

For further details on BLM population estimates, download the complete 2021 HA and HMA Dataset (pdf). 

Wild Horse and Burro Acreage

Land Managed for Wild Horses and Burros

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), that comprise 31.6 million acres.  (For an explanation of "What happened to the 22.2 million acres?" see the response to Myth #4 on the Myths and Facts page.) 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 (HMAs) 177
Total Acreage of HMAs 31.6 million acres
HMA Acreage Managed by BLM 26.9 million acres

 

Population Growth-Suppression Treatments

Population Growth Suppression Treatments

In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reported that no highly effective, easily delivered and affordable fertility-control methods were then available to manage wild horse and burro population growth on the range. The NAS also urged the BLM to research new, longer lasting methods. Three fertility control vaccines that BLM uses today in wild horse management were among the methods that the NAS report identified as most promising in 2013. “ZonaStat-H” is the most widely used form of porcine zona pellucida (PZP) vaccine. It can be injected by hand or deployed via ground-darting, however, is generally effective for only one year. “PZP-22” is a second form of PZP vaccine; one dose can lead to moderate effects that may last two years. A follow-up dose of PZP vaccine in a mare that already received PZP-22 can cause somewhat stronger effects for up to three years. “GonaCon-Equine” is the third contraception vaccine BLM uses for management, and it can be delivered by hand or by dart. One dose of GonaCon can cause moderate effects that may last two years, but a second dose can cause high rates of contraception that may last 4-5 years. In many herds where wild horses are approachable, BLM gets valuable help from volunteers who devote many hours to identifying animals and delivering vaccines by dart. Unfortunately, delivering any vaccine via dart is not a viable option for most wild horse herds because the animals tend to avoid human contact and the vast sizes of most herd management areas make it difficult to locate and approach individual horses.  

Fiscal Year PZP PZP-22 Gonacon Total
2020 563 31 141 735
2019 549 59 52 660
2018 580 110 12 702
2017 422 355   777
2016 334 118 15 467
2015 286 183   469
2014 319 65   384
2013 199 310   509
2012 162 883   1,045

 

Wild Horse and Burro Removals

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. 

Fiscal Year Horses Burros Total
2020 9,181 1,643 10,824
2019 6,126 1,853* 7,979
2018 9,749 1,723 11,472
2017 3,735 474 4,209
2016 2,899 421 3,320
2015 3,093 726 3,819
2014 1,689 168 1,857
2013 4,064 112 4,176
2012 7,242 1,013 8,255

*Includes 2 mules

Wild Horse and Burro Adoptions into Private Care

Wild Horses and Burros Adopted into Good Homes

The BLM offers wild horses and burros that were removed from the range for adoption into private care. Since 1971, the BLM has adopted out more than 250,000 wild horses and burros nationwide. Potential adopters can attend an off-site adoption event, visit a BLM adoption center, or participate in an Internet Adoption event. For general questions on adopting a wild horse or burro, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.  

Fiscal Year Horses Burros Total
2020 3,311 1,430 4,741
2019 3,774 1,356 5,130
2018 2,459 699 3,158
2017 2,905 612 3,517
2016 2,440 472 2,912
2015 2,331 300 2,631
2014 1,789 346 2,135
2013 2,033 278 2,311
2012 2,232 351 2,583

 

Wild Horse and Burro Sales into Private Care

Wild Horses and Burros Sold to Good Homes

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 5,900 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." Learn more about the Sales Program

Fiscal Year Horses Burros  Total
2020 1,096 326 1,422**
2019 1,538 429 1,967*
2018 1,201 250 1,451
2017 518 64 582
2016 179 32 211
2015 88 180 268
2014 23 64 87
2013 22 43 65
2012 320 82 402

* In addition to sales totals, 7 animals were transferred to other government agencies. 

** Includes 3 wild horses transferred to other government agencies

Trained Wild Horses and Burros

Number of Wild Horses and Burros Trained

In an effort to place more animals into private care, the BLM partners with non-profit organizations, volunteers, and state and county prisons to train wild horses and burros prior to being placed into a good home. Trained animals tend to have a higher rate of adoption by the public than untrained.

Fiscal Year Horses Burros Total
2019 936 515 1,451
2018 1,096 383 1,479
2017 1,430* 324 1,754
2016 1,001 224 1,225
2015 1,020 79 1,099
2014 652 108 760
2013 481 16 497
2012 656 11 667

 

*Includes one mule

Off-Range Holding

Populations of Wild Horses and Burros in BLM's Off-Range Facilities
(as of August 2021)

All off-range (unadopted or unsold) wild horses and burros, like those roaming Western public rangelands, are protected by the BLM under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, as amended. These off-range horses and burros are fed and cared for in either off-range corrals or pastures at a cost of nearly $50 million a year. The BLM maintains a monthly holding facilities report, which can be found by clicking on the Public Lands Stats tab below. Access the most recent FY2021 monthly facility report. The total capacity of all BLM off-range holding facilities is 69,983 animals. 

Facility Type Horses Burros Total
Off-Range Corrals 11,793 1,343 13,136
Off-Range Pastures 37,387 0 37,387
Public Off-Range Pastures 1,174 0 1,174
Total Off-Range Population 50,354 1,343 51,697

 

Wild Horse and Burro Program Budget

Wild Horse and Burro Program Budget

FY2020

Budget Category Dollars (in millions) % of Expenditures
Appropriations $101.555 n/a
Total Expenditures* $91.191 n/a
Off-Range Holding Costs $56.978 62%
Gathers and Removals $7.043 8%
Adoptions $9.807 11%
Other Activities (monitoring, etc.) $17.364 19%

FY2019

Budget Category Dollars (in millions) % of Expenditures
Appropriations $80.555 n/a
Total Expenditures* $85.549 n/a
Off-Range Holding Costs $57.648 67%
Gathers and Removals $3.695 4%
Adoptions $8.163 10%
Other Activities (monitoring, etc.) $16.043 19%

FY2018

Budget Category Dollars (in millions) % of Expenditures
Appropriations $75 n/a
Total Expenditures* $81.226 n/a
Off-Range Holding Costs $49.812 61%
Gathers and Removals $6.195 8%
Adoptions $8.255 10%
Other Activities (monitoring, etc.) $16.922 21%

FY2017

Budget Category Dollars (in millions) % of Expenditures
Appropriations $80.555 n/a
Total Expenditures* $82.567 n/a
Off-Range Holding Costs $48.627 59%
Gathers and Removals $4.216 5%
Adoptions $7.913 10%
Other Activities (monitoring, etc.) $21.329 26%

FY2016

Budget Category Dollars (in millions) % of Expenditures
Appropriations $80.555 n/a
Total Expenditures* $78.298 n/a
Off-Range Holding Costs $49.428 63.1%
Gathers and Removals $3.061 3.9%
Adoptions $7.375 9.4%
Other Activities (monitoring, etc.) $18.434 23.5%

FY2015

Budget Category Dollars (in millions) % of Expenditures
Appropriations $77.245 n/a
Total Expenditures* $75.174 n/a
Off-Range Holding Costs $49.382 65.7%
Gathers and Removals $1.834 2.4%
Adoptions $6.314 8.4%
Other Activities (monitoring, etc.) $17.645 23.5%

FY2014

Budget Category Dollars (in millions) % of Expenditures
Appropriations $77.245 n/a
Total Expenditures* $67.9 n/a
Off-Range Holding Costs $43.235 63%
Gathers and Removals $1.2 2%
Adoptions $4.6 7%
Other Activities (monitoring, etc.) $18.865 27%

FY2013

Budget Category Dollars (in millions) % of Expenditures
Appropriations $71.836 n/a
Total Expenditures* $76.1 n/a
Off-Range Holding Costs $46.165 61%
Gathers and Removals $4.8 6%
Adoptions $7.5 10%
Other Activities (monitoring, etc.) $17.035 22%

FY2012

Budget Category Dollars (in millions) % of Expenditures
Appropriations $74.888 n/a
Total Expenditures* $72.4 n/a
Off-Range Holding Costs $42.955 59%
Gathers and Removals $7.8 11%
Adoptions $7.1 10%
Other Activities (monitoring, etc.) $14.545 20%

 

* Expenditures include funding sources from multiple program areas related to wild horse and burro management.

Public Lands Statistics and Historical Data

Historical Program Data and Public Lands Statistics

This table contains links to data related to on-range population of wild horses and burros, adoptions and removals by fiscal year.  Some data are preliminary and subject to revision before the end of the fiscal year. Download prior year wild horse and burro accomplishments fact sheets: FY2018 and FY2019

Population Completed Gathers Adoptions, Sales and Removals by State Office HAs and HMAs Data Off-Range Monthly Facility Reports
2021 - not available 2021 - not available 2021 - not available 2021 - not available 2021
2020 2020 2020 2020 2020
2019 2019 2019 2019 2019
2018 2018 2018 2018 2018
2017 2017 2017 2017 2017
2016 2016 2016 2016 2016
2015 2015 2015 2015 2015
2014 2014 2014 2014 2014
2013 2013 2013 2013 2013
1996-2012 2009-2012 1996-2012 2005-2012 2011-2012

B-Roll Footage

Links to YouTube. 

Wild Horses and Burros on the Range (Nevada) - 307 MB

Wild Horses on the Range (Wyoming) - 34 MB 

Wild Horses on the Range (Nevada) - 73 MB

Wild Horses on the Range (Utah) - 126 MB

Wild Horses and Burros on the Range (California) - 67 MB

Wild Horse Gather Operation (Utah and California) - 241 MB

Releasing Wild Horses back into HMA - 220 MB

Wild Horses Arriving at Off-Range Pasture - 113 MB

Wild Horses on Off-Range Pasture (Spring) - 160 MB

Wild Horses on Off-Range Pasture (Fall) - 80 MB

Wild Horse Inmate Training Program (Colorado) - 280 MB

Releases

All video files in this archive are "public domain" images. You are free to use these videos without a release from the Bureau of Land Management. However, the videos must not be used to imply BLM endorsement of a product, service, organization or individual without permission from the BLM.

Credit

Credit video to the Bureau of Land Management. 

Contact

For questions or higher-quality files, please contact wildhorse@blm.gov or 866-468-7826 .

Points of Contact

Jason Lutterman, Public Affairs WH&B Program, 775-861-6614

BLM Press Office: BLM_Press@blm.gov