Mustang Monument Resort wild horses.

Wild horses remain under threat; Haaland unconcerned

THE ESTIMATED ON-RANGE WILD HORSE POPULATION IN EARLY 2021 WAS AROUND 90,000

According to the Public Lands Council, “Today, approximately 22,000 ranchers own nearly 120 million acres of private land and hold grazing permits on more than 250 million acres managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Nearly 40% of western cattle herd and about 50% of the nation’s sheep herd spend time on public lands.”

The Council adds:

“Public land ranchers invest their time, their own money and their energy maintaining the federal lands they graze upon.” Oh really? Show us how and where they do that.

“The BLM administers nearly 18,000 permits and leases held by ranchers who graze their livestock, mostly cattle and sheep, on more than 21,000 allotments.”  

Tragic Imbalance

Consider cattle rancher numbers as opposed to the numbers of wild horses left — if it is even as much as they say. It was estimated that the on-range wild horse population in early 2021 was around 90,000. That same number was reported as long ago as October 2019. There have been roundups since then. So, what is going on?

In the meantime, the BLM wants to reduce the number of wild horses on public lands to an even unconscionably lower number than the supposed 90,000. In “An Analysis of achieving a Sustainable Wild Horse and Burro Program,” published around this time last year” (pdf, 33pp, 5/19/20), the BLM predict they will essentially manage America’s wild horse population until there are as few as 45,000.

Enter Haaland

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. By Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images 2019

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland stated the Biden Administration’s policy on managing the America’s wild horses and burro of wild horses will be as follows: “We’re in agreement with the plan of the previous Administration.” 

What? How very unconcerned she is.

In the meantime, Nevada Farm Bureau President Bevan Lister said birth control alone will not get the herds to a manageable level fast enough because resources are limited on rangelands.

“We support any and every means possible to bring the wild horse and burro populations into appropriate management level,” said Lister. “We’re seeing range degradation at a rate that has never been seen before.”

Lister just made a prize clown of himself.

Yes, we are sure you are seeing range degradation like never before Mr. Lister — but not by the wild horses or burros — but by you and those of your ilk and your destructive cattle. It is a fact that wild horses, by their very nature and habits, replenish the lands they live on, whereas your cattle strip the land down to nothing but barren, depleted land. This is extremely serious for more than just our wild horses.

Mustangs not the only wildlife endangered

Britannica.com, in Public Lands Ranching: The Scourge of Wildlife, writes:

Overgrazing is not the only way in which ranching harms wildlife. Many practices related to or in support of ranching have also decimated wildlife populations on grazed federal lands. Among these, none has been more obvious than the relentless and widespread hunting of the competitors and predators of livestock.

Wolves, grizzly bears, and mountain lions were exterminated long ago in many areas of the American west through the combined efforts of ranchers, farmers, and special government agents charged with “animal damage control” (such agents are now organized in a section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as “Wildlife Services”).

Prairie dogs, a competitor of livestock, were reduced in population to less than 1 percent of their estimated pre-19th century numbers. Because prairie dogs share dependencies with approximately 200 other wildlife species of the prairie ecosystem, their decimation led to drastic declines in the populations of these other animals.

Fences thwart the migration of native ungulates (hooved animals), which can lead to death during times of environmental stress, such as droughts and blizzards. Fences also impale birds. Landscapes worn out by decades of overgrazing are often reseeded with nonnative grasses that differ significantly in stature and taste from the native grasses they replace, thus providing no benefit to niche-dependent wildlife. And, prior to reseeding, weeds will have been killed with herbicides, which often poison stream invertebrates and accumulate in the bodies of the fish that consume them.

Ranching requires roads, the construction of which kills plants and animals directly. The existence of roads opens up wilderness areas to human activities, such as hunting, wood cutting, and driving off-road vehicles, all of which harm—or have the potential to harm—wildlife. Roads also provide pathways for the spread of weeds, further contributing to the degradation of overgrazed landscapes.

How extensive is the carnage that ranching inflicts on wildlife? One reasonable measure is the number of affected species that are either (1) federally listed as threatened or endangered, (2) candidates for federal listing, or (3) the subject of petitions for federal listing. By that criterion, ranching’s victims number 151 species in all: 26 species of mammals, 25 species of birds, 66 species of fish, 14 species of reptiles and amphibians, 15 species of mollusks, and 5 species of insects.

In addition, at least 167 other species are harmed by ranching through the degradation of their habitats, though they are not so severely imperiled that they currently warrant federal protection.

Read more at: https://www.britannica.com/explore/savingearth/public-lands-ranching-the-scourge-of-wildlife »


Our chief concern is the wild horse and burro population because that is what we do. However, as threatened they are, there is plenty at stake for the other native species that inhabit our public lands.

Other issues the above report reveal are:

• Overgrazing by cattle can extirpate native vegetation, thus allowing invasion by weeds that are useless as cover and forage for mammalian species.

• Long-term cattle grazing can alter the structure of upland forests, replacing widely spaced, large trees with densely packed smaller trees.

• Cattle also spread unhealthy pathogens in their waste.

• Cattle excrete nitrogen-rich waste into streams. The nitrogen fertilizes algae, the excessive growth of which depletes stream water of oxygen that amphibians require to survive.

• When cattle consume streamside forbs and grasses, flowing water erodes the banks and straightens the channel. A straight channel allows water to flow more swiftly and erode even more soil.


It appears to us that Haaland is simply not interested in our wild horses and burros, like Interior chiefs before her. Maybe she feels she has bigger fish to fry, so to speak, such as the one below.

“On June 1, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland suspended activity at oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, undoing some of the damage implemented by the previous administration,” reports OutsideOnline.com.

We had pinned our hopes on Haaland. If she can see that the above needs doing for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — which we heartily applaud — how can she choose to look the other way and do absolutely nothing for our deserving and iconic wild horses?

Perhaps we need to remind Haaland of the law which she is charged to uphold and enforce:

“The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed, unanimously, through Congress and signed by former President Nixon on December 15, 1971. It became Public Law 92-195, which protects wild horses and burros within designated territories on both Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.”

Updated 6/7/21 12:47 pm

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Related Reading

Wild horses replenish and do not destroy the land, Tuesday’s Horse, March 19, 2020

BLM Scraps Obama era rule to protect wild horses from slaughter, American Wild Horse Campaign, July 18, 2018

12 thoughts on “Wild horses remain under threat; Haaland unconcerned”

  1. Our poor wild horses!! They want to round up 90,000 more which is insane! Are they all going to slaughter? Mexico and Canada would love that! Their horse flesh is free of buys and drugs. These innocent horses get such a bad rap all because of cattlemen’s lies. I watch my two horses eat our grass on our land. They walk snd munch. They don’t chew it down to the ground but wander and munch. I wish they would eat on one spot so we can get rid of our weeds and grass.

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    1. They have been reporting since 2019 there are 90,000 wild horses left on the range so they are on the road to annihilation. This tragedy must be stopped. However there has Been no one willing to stop it from the President on down for many years, Republicans and Democrats alike. It is unconscionable.

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  2. Haaland likes the past admins plans? That would be extinction. We are So sick of the absolute LIES ON OVERPOP AND RANGE DESTRUCTION. SHES WRONG FOR OUR LANDS. FOR OUR EQUINE Shes IN THE CATTLE BIZ. AND A RESERVATION JUST WIPED OUT THIER HORSES FOR $!!! PLS SEND TO BIDEN.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this from Haaland — and after all the abuse and decimation perpetrated on our wild horses during the Ken Salazar years as chief of the Dept of Interior during the Obama years.

      It is through the hard work of dedicated advocates that as many wild horses survived as they did. We are fed up with these mass murderers (and that is what they are) of our wild horses.

      Not all tribal Indians take part in these atrocities against our wild horses, but plenty of them certainly do. We did not want to pre-judge Haaland, and took a wait and see stance at the beginning. However, we now see her for what she is, and what she plans to do — which is to allow the DOI via the BLM to destroy as many wild horses as they want. Therefore, must fight Haaland tooth and nail. We will need to be relentless.

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  3. Unbelievable that Haaland agrees with the previous admins’ status quo. Sad that We and the wild horses and burros have to rely on her help. I should have suspected as much since the tribes are not very horse-friendly people. they send their own horses to slaughter. Very disappointed in her.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I want horses to stay on their lands. If there are no “Herd Management Area Plans,” there is no chance to stopping roundups and removals. Horses will continue to be decimated down to 27,000 horses nationwide and fertility control stuff, including PZP, will be used to keep number there. So let’s say PZP is ok and useful, it can be included in a plan, but it must not come before the herd has its HMAP. Constructing these plans for all 177 herds will increase the 27,000 number and horses will stay on their lands. I am tired of being bombarded by PZP-is-the-solution campaigns. Who came up with that and how does that make sense?

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  5. America is about to loose its last surviving icons. The Wild Mustangs and Burros for which America is famous for. All because of the ranchers cattle and sheep and Mining. When these magnificent animals go America will also go. No point in visiting a dead country. Obviously the administrators have just turned into dollars and have lost basic sense as these horses and Burros replenish the lands not like other licestock. Besides they are some of the finest horses around. Such a pity to treat them like Unwanted trash. Wake up America, Dont think your polititians are doing you any good.

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  6. Have all the pointers been expressed to her? The affect on the land, extinction of previous creatures due to depleted lands from cattle and stressors such as fences. Maybe she just can’t see the forest for the trees. I’ve written her, many of us have. Why is she so obstinate?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Didya know there are over one million elk in this country that range FREELY on both private and public lands. We counted over 700 elk on the Great Basin National Park where rare Sulphur wild horses once ranged. With the establishment of this Park most historic livestock allotments were zeroed out and wild horses were never inventoried, the few remaining disappear without a trace. Wild horse/burro advocates are running out of the time and breath critical to the survival of our National Heritage Treasure where alternative options are available by operation of law for the re wilding, conservation, preservation and management of wild horse and burros. Kleppe v New Mexico altered and expanded the Wild Horse and Burro Act for wildlife management. The 1966 National Historic Preservation Act Sec 106 provides the protocol for amending resource management plans that mandate both cultural and natural resources. Until our herds are managed as a RESOURCE to amend fatally flawed resource management plans Advocates may be pissing in the wind.

    Liked by 3 people

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