Federal agency sells horses to rescue group

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 14, 2005
by WLJ
Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke announced a sale on Wednesday of 13 wild horses to Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, a California-based group dedicated to wild horse protection.
The horses, all mares, were sold under a new law that Congress passed in December 2004. The new law directs the BLM to sell wild horses and burros that are more than 10 years old or have been unsuccessfully offered for adoption at least three times. The BLM announced its first sale of wild horses on March 1; that sale involved 200 mares and went to Wild Horses Wyoming, LLC, a southeastern Wyoming company committed to wild horse preservation.
“The BLM is committed to finding long-term care for wild horses and burros affected by the new law,” said Director Clarke. “We are so pleased that groups committed to caring for these animals are stepping forward. We are reaching out to other groups and people who want to care for horses.”
Clarke noted that other sales are pending and will be announced in the near future.
Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue has also recently adopted foals born to two of the horses sold as part of this sale. Jill Starr, president of Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, based in Lancaster, CA, said, “I am thankful that the BLM is offering opportunities for the sale-mandated horses to be placed in caring homes and safe sanctuaries. They are making efforts beyond what the new law requires, which proves the BLM is really trying to help horses. I am pleased to be able to offer sanctuary for some of the horses and their foals, and I wish we could do more."
The Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue ranch comprises 46 acres and supports more than 130 wild horses. The group, which operates on contributions from the public, is also developing 160 acres in Twin Oaks, California, which will become the "Born to be Wild" natural habitat sanctuary for rescued mustangs.
The BLM manages wild horses and burros under the authority of the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act. Federal law authorizes the BLM to remove wild horses and burros from the range to control herd sizes; those animals removed are cared for in short- and long-term holding facilities and thousands are placed into private ownership through adoption each year.
Since 1973, the BLM’s adoption program has put more than 203,000 animals into private care. Currently there are about 24,000 wild horses and burros cared for in short-term facilities in the West and long-term facilities in the Midwest.
There are about 37,000 wild horses and burros on public lands managed by the BLM in 10 Western states. The Bureau has determined––on the basis of its analysis of rangeland conditions ––that 28,000 is the number of wild horses and burros that BLM-managed rangelands can support in balance with other resources and other approved uses of the public lands. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators and their herd sizes on the range can double about every five years. As a result, the current free-roaming population exceeds by some 9,000 the number that BLM-managed rangelands can sustain.
The cost of holding and caring for wild horses and burros in both short- and long-term facilities is projected to be about $20 million in Fiscal Year 2005, which will be more than half of what the agency expects to spend on the wild horse and burro program in the current fiscal year. The cost of caring for and feeding a wild horse in a long-term facility is about $465 per animal per year.
The BLM has set up a toll-free number for those interested in buying a wild horse or burro (800/710-7597). Interested groups or individuals may also contact the Bureau at a new e-mail address regarding the purchase of wild horses or burros (wildhorse@blm.gov).–– WLJ
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