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 26,715) 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, 2016) is 67,027, a 15 percent increase over the 2015 estimate of 58,150. That means the current West-wide on-range population exceeds AML by more than 40,000. (This year's 15 percent increase compares to an 18 percent increase from 2014 to 2015, which is consistent with the BLM's finding that wild horse and burro herds double in size about every four years.) As noted in a table further below, the population of off-range (unadopted or unsold) wild horses and burros maintained in holding facilities is more than 45,000 as of October 2016.