By Scott Sonner
The Associated Press
RENO, NEV. » U.S. land managers have begun efforts to capture about 50% more wild horses than originally planned this year because of severe drought across the U.S. West — about 6,000 additional animals primarily in Nevada, Oregon and Colorado.
The Bureau of Land Management said the emergency roundups that began Sunday in Oregon and Monday in Nevada concentrate on places where “chronic overpopulation” of the herds “already has stretched the available food and water to its limits.”
“As one of the agencies charged with the responsibility to protect and manage America’s wild horses and burros, the BLM is prepared to take emergency action where we can in order to save the lives of these cherished animals,” said Nada Wolff Culver, the bureau’s deputy director for policy and programs.
The agency is committed to “continuing our efforts to reduce overpopulation across the West and achieve healthy, sustainable herd sizes that are more capable of withstanding severe conditions, including prolonged drought, which are becoming more frequent due to climate change,” she said in announcing the effort Monday.
Horse advocates say the emergency roundups that will continue into September are being driven by pressure from ranchers who don’t want the mustangs competing with their livestock for limited forage and water.
One advocate said she’s especially disappointed the Biden administration is continuing the policies of former President Donald Trump and previous administrations that prioritized removal of horses that are federally protected without reining in the number of cattle and sheep grazing on the same land.
“Profit-driven interests ravage the landscape, and we blame the horse,” said Laura Leigh, president of the nonprofit group Wild Horse Ed