Congress passes Omnibus spending bill that includes a better way to manage nation’s federally protected wild horses

The nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, the American Wild Horse Campaign, commended the U.S. Congress for including an important bipartisan wild horse protection measure in the final Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations omnibus passed recently. The measure requires the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program to utilize up to $11 million for reversible immunocontraceptive fertility control in FY23 to sustainably manage wild horses and burros.

The legislative effort for humane management was championed and supported by a strong bipartisan team of lawmakers, including U.S. Representatives Steve Cohen, Dina Titus, Lucille Roybal-Allard, David Schweikert and Brian Fitzpatrick in the House and Senator Cory Booker in the Senate. This is the second year in a row that Congress has directed the agency to utilize scientifically-proven fertility control, a management approach that would slow the influx of wild horses and burros into government holding facilities that currently utilize 60 percent of the program budget.

In a change of events, Congress appropriated less funding for the Wild Horse and Burro Program than the amount that was proposed in the original FY23 House and Senate bills and requested by the Biden Administration.

“We thank Congress and the Interior Appropriations Subcommittees for continuing support for a robust fertility control vaccine program and other creative alternatives that will keep horses out of costly government holding facilities,” said Holly Gann Bice, director of government relations of AWHC. “By limiting funding, triaging removals, and directing the BLM to utilize fertility control, Congress is signaling a new direction for wild horse management that will ultimately stabilize populations in the wild for the benefit of the agency, the taxpayer, and wild horses alike.”

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Other key measures include: 

  • Evaluating options for relocating wild horses and burros to different Herd Management Areas (as an alternative to removals.
  • Reviewing the agency’s controversial Adoption Incentive Programfor any program weaknesses that jeopardize the welfare of the mustangs and burros placed into private care.
  • Pursuing partnerships with veterans and wild horse organizations to aid in humane fertility control management.
  • Emphasizing the importance of screening adopters and purchasers to ensure the welfare and safe outcomes for the horses and burros adopted and sold by the U.S. Forest Service.

AWHC also thanked Congress for including the long-standing anti-slaughter provisions, including a ban on the killing and slaughter of federally protected wild horses and burros and language to defund USDA horse meat inspections, which effectively prevents horse slaughter plants from operating in the U.S.

About the American Wild Horse Campaign
The American Wild Horse Campaign is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America’s wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world.