Currently wild horses and burros on federal lands are protected as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. This law places these animals under the management of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). According to the law, the federal agencies are to manage the animals “to achieve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands.” In order to do so, the law authorizes the agencies to destroy old, sick, or lame animals by the most humane means available and to allow private adoption of healthy animals in order to prevent overpopulation which may damage both herds and the ecosystem. When suitable homes are not available for healthy animals, the agencies may sell them commercially. Current law prohibits the BLM from using appropriated funds for slaughtering healthy, unadopted animals or for the sale of wild horses and burros that would result in their slaughter for processing into commercial products.
As a member of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the BLM, I am deeply concerned about the unwarranted cost of BLM’s wild horse and burro program. Overpopulation of these animals has caused serious environmental damage to the rangelands in the west, and I am concerned about proposals to push these animals onto fragile ecosystems where they do not currently roam, threatening the environment in those areas. While I am an avid animal lover and never like the idea of animals being put to death unnecessarily, I am concerned that restrictions place on the BLM make it difficult to manage the already unsustainable problem of wild horse overpopulation.
This program costs the taxpayer millions of dollars each year without any measurable return. As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee , I intend to closely scrutinize how taxpayer dollars are being used and do what it takes to restore fiscal sanity during times of serious budget deficits.