Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Numbers

American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

These numbers are recent (if not the latest) Bureau of Land Management numbers, as well as numbers obtained through independent investigation. Please understand that population levels in particular are fluid and subject to a significant degree of uncertainty (the same caveat applies to numbers provided by the BLM).
  • In the 19th century, more than 2 million wild horses roamed the West (source: J. Frank Dobie, “The Mustangs”, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, 1952).
  • BLM's first census in 1974 reported 42,666 horses and 14,374 burros. (source: BLM/FS Joint Report to Congress, FY1992-95, pg 37-40)
  • Today, fewer than 33,000 wild horses likely remain on public lands.
    Over 2 million head of private livestock enjoy subsidized grazing on public lands.
  • More than 250,000 wild horses and burros have been removed from public lands since 1971. The BLM plans to remove another 12,000 for Fiscal Year 2010.
  • The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandated that wild horses and burros be protected and managed on "areas where presently found," which included 47 million acres of public lands on 303 herd areas.
  • Since 1971, wild horses have been zeroed out from 111 herd areas representing over 20 million acres; 2.4 million acres of wild horse habitat were lost between 2005 and 2009 alone.
  • Burros share their habitat with bighorn sheep, a highly-prized game species that now outnumbers them at least 16 to 1 on public lands. BLM’s target for nationwide burro population is less than 3,000.
  • BLM relies on an annual population increase rate of about 20% to evaluate population levels and justify round-ups of wild horses and burros, while the National Academy of Sciences estimates that rate to be closer to 10%.
  • Wild horses account for less than 0.5% of large grazing animals on public lands.
  • 6 states have lost their entire wild horse and burro populations.
  • In 70% of the remaining herd areas, BLM’s population targets are set at levels that will not ensure genetic viability.
  • The current removal policy is costing over 60 million tax dollars a year.
  • In 2008, less than 5% of BLM’s wild horse and burro program budget was allocated to herd management on the range, with the remaining 95% allocated to captures, holding, and placement.
  • According to the USGS, $7.7 million could be saved annually through the use of contraceptive measures alone.
  • The removal and processing of a single horse through the adoption pipeline can cost as much as $3,000.
  • Over 36,000 wild horses are currently held in government holding pens.
  • Livestock grazing is authorized on five times more acres of BLM land than wild horses (160 million acres for livestock vs. 26.6 million acres [shared with livestock] for horses and burros).
  • Publicly-subsidized livestock grazing on public lands costs taxpayers in excess of $132 million annually, yet cattle grazed on public lands provide just 3% of the nation's beef supply.
  • Private livestock outnumber wild horses and burros on public land by at least 50 to 1 (note: some livestock may not be grazed year round).
At this critical juncture, we encourage the public and the media to draw from the continually updated information and research found on this site to help raise awareness of the plight of the American wild horse. For Campaign updates and alerts, please join our email list.

Reproduction authorized solely for educational purposes, provided is credited as source.

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