There are too many wild horses in the western part of the U.S. The current policy, in which wild horse roundups are conducted, has led to too many horses, far more than are adopted. The roundup policy is eating up most of the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse budget. In 2012, more than $40 million -- 60 percent -- of the wild horse budget went to paying for the facilities where the wild horses are kept.
According to an independent review of BLM policies from the National Science Academy's National Research Council, a 14-member panel recommends that the BLM use fertility-control drugs to cull the number of wild horses. And that's just one part of the conclusions; the second recommends that the BLM allow nature to also reduce the herds.
This is good advice. It's pretty clear the BLM policy of rounding up herds, thereby protecting them from natural risks, is counter-productive. The BLM objects to the panel's report, but that agency itself has woefully undercounted the number of wild horses. By putting the horses in the holding facilities, the BLM allows the wild horses to have a population growth that is at odds with nature.
While we object to any specific policy of intentionally harming the horses, the report notes that excessive government protection of the horses "is probably having the opposite effect of its intention to ease ecological damage and reduce overpopulated herds," according to an Associated Press article.
The BLM opposes these steps, even though it asked the academy's research council to do the report. It will argue that it must continue its impractical policy to comply with the Nixon-era Free-Roaming Horse and Burros Act of 1971. But the current policy is not working. The herds must be culled. If it's necessary to revise the 1971 act to improve things, then Congress should do it.