Letter questions continued roundups ‘under the guise’ of herd goals
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — U.S. Rep. Dina Titus and other federal lawmakers are requesting an oversight hearing for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program, which could mark a major change in direction for roundups that have become a public relations problem for the agency.
The letter seeks “on-range” management of the herds.
In a letter late last week, Titus, D-Nev., and six other members of Congress questioned continued roundups “under the guise” of reaching goals for herd numbers that are sustainable on public lands. The letter criticized the effort and questioned whether it could even attain the stated goals.
“With the BLM planning to round up at least 22,000 wild horses and burros, under the guise of reaching Appropriate Management Levels that are determined through unclear means and adding to the nearly 60,000 currently confined in BLM facilities, we believe an oversight hearing of the Wild Horse and Burro Program is merited to protect the well-being of captured horses and to ensure that the BLM is focusing its efforts on humane on-range management,” the June 17 letter stated.
Another roundup was planned in Southern Nevada in June.
The request for oversight comes after two recent incidents — a video of a colt with an injured leg as a helicopter buzzes by during a Nevada roundup, and an April 23 outbreak of a respiratory disease that killed at least 145 horses in pens in Canon City, Colorado. Another outbreak followed at a Wheatland, Wyoming, BLM facility just weeks later.
“After reviewing assessments of the off-range facilities evaluated this year, we are concerned about documented trends of inadequate biosecurity controls, understaffing, lack of recordkeeping, limited access to hay and water, and issues related to pen maintenance,” the letter said.
The letter was signed by Titus, a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, and Reps. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Ted Lieu, D-Calif., Albio Sires, D-N.J., Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Salud Carbajal, D-Calif.
The group sent the request to the House Natural Resources Committee.
In May, Titus sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior expressing concerns about the Canon City outbreak. In February, she introduced the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 2022 to help advance BLM’s directive to humanely capture horses and provide significant savings to taxpayers by ending the use of helicopters in BLM wild horse gathers.
And in April, Titus and others wrote a letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies requesting $11 million for immunocontraceptive vaccines and an investigation into the Adoption Incentive Program to prevent the further abuse and slaughter of wild horses.