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Release Date: 07/14/10
Contacts: Tom Gorey , 202-912-7420  

BLM Issues New Policy Handbook on Wild Horse and Burro Management

The Bureau of Land Management announced today that it has issued a new policy handbook relating to the management of wild horses and burros roaming public lands under the BLM's jurisdiction. Among other things, the handbook would ensure that the factors considered in determining appropriate herd population levels are consistent across all of the Bureau's 179 herd management areas in 10 Western states. The new handbook completes the list of corrective actions recommended by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in an October 2008 report on wild horse management issues.
"This new handbook is another step in the BLM's ongoing effort to improve its management of the nation's wild horses and burros," said BLM Director Bob Abbey. "I am particularly pleased that our agency has now completed the full slate of corrective actions urged by the GAO." Abbey added, "Going forward, the new handbook will ensure that the BLM sets the appropriate management level for different herds in a consistent manner."
Abbey also noted that the BLM is working to put its Wild Horse and Burro Program on a sustainable track, and he urged the public to visit the Bureau’s national Home Page ( to provide comments on a Strategy Development Document aimed at setting the program in a new direction.
The new wild horse and burro handbook states that in-depth evaluations of a herd-specific appropriate management level (AML) should be done when review of resource monitoring and population inventory data indicates that the existing AML for that herd may no longer reflect conditions on the range. The handbook says the following factors should be considered when evaluating or adjusting AML:
 Changes in environmental conditions, such as drought, wildfires, noxious weed infestations, the impact of varying numbers of wild horses and burros on forage use or range conditions, an increase or decrease in available forage, and changes in livestock management.
The presence of any newly listed threatened, endangered, or sensitive species. 
 Any additional resource monitoring, population inventory, or other relevant data collected since AML was last established.
The new handbook also makes clear that unless an emergency situation exists, it is the BLM’s policy to prohibit the use of helicopters to assist in the capture of wild horses the six weeks before and the six weeks after the peak foaling period. For most wild horse herds, the peak foaling period is generally mid-April to mid-May. Therefore, the use of helicopters to capture wild horses is generally prohibited from March 1 through June 30. 
To access the new handbook, please go to:

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM'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. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

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Last updated: 07-14-2010