National News
November 17, 2008
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Contact: Tom Gorey, 202-452-5137

Recommendations of BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board

Below are 19 recommendations that the BLM's citizen-based National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board made to the Bureau at its meeting in Reno, Nevada, on Monday, November 17, 2008. The recommendations, which were developed by a subcommittee of the Advisory Board, were endorsed unanimously by the Board, with the exception of Recommendation #16, which passed on a 7-1 vote.

The BLM will take these recommendations under advisement and will provide feedback to the Board at its next meeting, which is currently scheduled for February 23, 2009, in Reno. The BLM can accept, reject, or modify the Board's recommendations, which are not binding on the agency. The BLM greatly appreciates the diligent and conscientious work that the Board has put into these recommendations, which come at a critical time in the Bureau's management of wild horses and burros on Western public rangelands. 

1. Recommend that BLM explore the viability of semi-privatizing the Adopt-A-Horse Program.

2. Recognizing that horses 11 years or older are currently sale eligible with the intent clause, recommend that younger horses also become sale eligible with the intent clause after they have been offered for adoption three times and have been available for adoption for 90 days. "Offered for adoption" includes satellite events, Internet adoptions, and each day a facility is open for adoption.

3. Recommend that BLM expand wild horse sales by offering organizations with existing adoption/sale networks such as wild horse advocacy groups, 501(c)(3) organizations, and private individuals an opportunity to adopt/purchase groups of sale eligible animals for virtual adoptions, rehoming or sale to approved homes.

4. Recommend that BLM advertise and market sale eligible animals (with the intent clause) in foreign countries with known good homes by offering "select sales" for sale eligible animals 11 years of age and over, and for younger animals that have been offered for adoption three times during a 90 day period.

5. Recommend that BLM continue to explore opportunities to foster foreign aid by providing sale eligible animals (with the intent clause) to foreign countries for agricultural (nonfood) use.

6. Recommend that BLM explore assistance agreements with wild horse advocacy groups and 501(c)(3) organizations to offset the costs of LTH, including but not limited to, assuming direct ownership of animals not adopted or sold, partnering with the Save The Mustang Fund to raise funds specifically for LTH care, and/or assisting in the placement of sale eligible animals through cooperative marketing efforts and increased public awareness.

7. Recommend that BLM disseminate information to horse advocacy groups, 501(c)(3) organizations, and private individuals interested in acquiring BLM livestock grazing permits through the purchase of private base property (requiring the conversion of livestock AUMs to horse AUMs in accordance with terms and conditions of the grazing permit) in order to provide long term private care for non-reproducing purchased or adopted animals.

8. Recommend that BLM provide the necessary information to wild horse advocacy groups, 501(c)(3) organizations, and private individuals who may be interested in contracting with existing livestock permittees to provide fee based long term care for purchased or adopted animals.

9. Recommend that BLM recognize that in the attempt to slow population growth, unproven field techniques may be considered and utilized, and as such, these new management practices shall be done on a conditional basis and until the effects of these practices and their applicability to future wild horse management are demonstrated to be effective through monitoring.

10. Recommend that BLM not use spaying of mares and vasectomies for stallions as population control methods unless these methods can be demonstrated as safe, practical and effective.

11. Recommend that BLM and the WH&B Advisory Board revisit the existing immunocontraception guidelines (dated August 16, 1999) to explore additional fertility control methodology and protocols to include, but not be limited to, agents that might be permanent for stallions or mares.

12. Recommend that BLM seek additional, dedicated funding, independent of proposed annual gather targets, for at least two HMAs per year in Nevada (as the first priority) that are at or near AML for specific techniques relating to the suppression of population growth rates, including but not limited to fertility control, adjusting sex ratios and/or adding a gelding component.  Such funding would include monies for all census, population modeling, gathers, field monitoring, and the recruitment of additional personnel to assist in field monitoring related to each project. 

13. Recommend that BLM implement changes to herd sex ratios to favor males in select HMAs where population growth suppression is desired.  The sex ratio may be adjusted to favor males either by increasing the stallion to mare ratio or by adding a gelding component to the herd.  As a minimum baseline for all wild horse herds, no herd should be managed for a sex ratio with a mare component greater than 50 percent.  The effects of using sex ratios to favor males shall be monitored in select HMAs to determine, at a minimum, the effects of these practices on population growth and their applicability to future wild horse management.

14. In order to reduce the number of excess animals that need to be gathered, recommend that BLM consider criteria for establishing non-reproductive herds in select HMAs, especially where resource availability impacts the ability of the herd to be self sustaining.

15. Recommend that for all emergency gathers BLM have a veterinarian present, and that animals in the field that exhibit signs of disease, stress or body condition that would render them more susceptible to life threatening illness when moved into a holding facility be humanely euthanized.

16. As a last resort, recommend that sale eligible animals not sold or adopted after a period of 30 days be offered for sale without limitation (without the intent clause) or be humanely euthanized pursuant to current law unless the Director determines there is a viable alternative.*

*Robin Lohnes, Co-Chair and representative of Wild Horse Advocacy does not support recommendation #16.

17.  Recommend that to accommodate the differences in operational capabilities among BLM and BLM-contracted facilities, the humane euthanasia of excess animals for which an adoption or sale demand does not exist (as described in #16, above) may include, but not be limited to, contracting for on-site and/or off-site humane euthanasia and carcass disposal. Humane euthanasia for these reasons will be performed only by a veterinarian or under the direct supervision of a veterinarian in accordance with American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) guidelines and in compliance with the applicable state veterinary practice acts and applicable state, county or municipal laws or regulations.

18. Recommend that BLM continue to support the Mustang Heritage Foundation and the expansion of their activities.

 19. Recommend that the USDA, Forest Service continue to provide funding to the BLM for the next 5 years (FY2010-FY2015) for wild horse and burro work conducted by the BLM for the Forest Service.

Last updated: 10-20-2009