A helicopter chases these wild horses into a BLM catch pen. File photo

American Wild Horse Conservation alleges more wild horses will be in captivity than remain on the range this year

According to a statement from advocacy group American Wild Horse Conservation, last month the Bureau of Land Management released its 2024 horse and burro population census numbers, estimating that 73,520 wild horses and burros remain free in the wild compared to the estimated 82,883 last year.

Velma “Wild Horse Annie” Johnson — a champion of the wild horses.

Using these numbers, the BLM is doubling down on its mass roundup plans, targeting 20,000 wild horses and burros for capture and removal from the wild this year. The agency’s ultimate goal is to drive the population down to fewer than 27,000 animals – the number that existed in 1971 when Congress protected them unanimously because they were “fast disappearing.”

Over the past three years, the BLM has spent $401 million rounding up 50,000 wild horses and burros, with the captive population now exceeding 64,000 and set to rise to more than 80,000 this year –meaning that, for the first time in history, the number of wild horses in confinement will exceed the number that remain free on the range.

This waste of taxpayer funds and animal lives serves one purpose: to prioritize commercial livestock grazing on public lands over conservation of our federally protected wild horses and burros.

We believe in a better way. At American Wild Horse Conservation, we’re fighting to reform the BLM’s inhumane practices and offer humane and sustainable conservation solutions.

Wild horses at the Litchfield Corral. File photo

We’re acquiring habitat through our Land Trust, fostering public-private partnerships, and demonstrating the efficacy of humane fertility control as an alternative to costly and traumatic roundups. Recent peer-reviewed science affirms the success of our Virginia Range fertility control program in Nevada and its feasibility in managing a large wild horse population in an expansive habitat area.

We’re also working with Congress to enact stronger legislation that compels the BLM to prioritize fertility control and prevents the agency from ignoring Congressional directives as it has done in past years.

And we’re raising awareness to counter the influence of the powerful livestock lobbying groups that relentlessly demand more roundups.

By harnessing the power of the people, we can ensure that the voices of the 80 percent of Americans who want to protect our iconic wild horses and burros are heard.