BLM

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).
  • Today, less than 25,000 wild horses likely remain on public lands.
  • Over 6 million head of private livestock are subsidized grazing on public lands.
  • More than 200,000 wild horses and burros have been removed from public lands since 1971. The BLM plans to remove another 6,000 for Fiscal Year 2009.
  • The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandates that wild horses and burros be managed on 47 million acres of public lands on 303 herd areas.
  • Since 1971, wild horses have been zeroed out from 111 herd areas representing over 19 million acres.
  • Wild burros numbered 14,000 at the time of the 1971 Act’s first census. 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, 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 39 million tax dollars a year.
  • 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 30,000 wild horses are currently held in government holding pens. Under the Burns Amendment, about 8,000 of them are threatened with slaughter.
  • BLM’s private livestock grazing program encompasses 214 million acres of public lands, costs over $130 million to manage annually, yet only provides 3% of our national beef supply.
  • The current fee to graze private cattle on public lands is $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM), the equivalent of $0.06 per acre per year, or about 1/10th of market rates to graze cattle on private lands.
  • Private livestock outnumber wild horses and burros at least 200 to 1 on public lands. (note: some livestock may not be grazed year round)
  • 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.