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Titus Responds to CBS Coverage of Wild Horses

“I will continue to fight for animal welfare and the protection of these iconic denizens of the Wild West. We must hold the BLM accountable.”

Washington, DC – Today Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01), a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus and author of the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act, issued the following statement in response to the recent CBS News coverage of horse roundups conducted by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM):


“I appreciate the efforts of CBS News to bring national awareness to the Wild Horse and Burro Program and hope this will spark a continued conversation on where improvements can be made to ensure the health and well-being of federally protected wild horses and burros.


“Nevada is home to the largest wild horse population in the nation, and I have seen time and time again how they continue to be endangered by ineffective management strategies and a lack of accountability regarding the contractors who hold a monopoly on BLM roundups, including the use of helicopters to corral horses.


“Just last month in Nevada, a mare died during a roundup after frantically running into a fencing panel and suffering a broken neck while being chased by a helicopter. It was caught on video, and it is quite horrific. Someone should have checked on her immediately, but they did not. Instead, the BLM contractor continued to bring in more horses as she lay on the ground helpless. A month earlier a colt was chased to exhaustion and had to be put down. This horrendous scene was also caught on video.


“These recent events are vivid examples of the cruelty that occurs during BLM horse gathers. I introduced the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 2022 to help advance BLM’s directive to humanely capture horses by ending the use of helicopters in wild horse gathers. The many horses who have suffered and died are evidence that we must end this practice.


“Since 2021, there have been 19 equine deaths in Nevada caused by injuries sustained during BLM roundups. An additional 132 deaths have occurred in Nevada BLM roundups as a result of chronic illness or pre-existing conditions, side effects that can be exacerbated by the fear and panic induced by the helicopters.


“The BLM contracts primarily with three companies to gather and remove horses using helicopters. These three contractors essentially have a monopoly on BLM gathers and have cost taxpayers at least $35.9 million since 2011, including $7.2 million since 2021.


“There are fertility controls, like Porcine Zone Pellucid (PZP), that can control equine populations, and there is the potential for utilizing drones to more humanely conduct roundups. Taxpayer dollars should not be used to support brutal methods of gathering, especially when alternatives exist.


“Even when horses are fortunate enough to get through a roundup unscathed, they face additional health and safety risks from the Adoption Incentive Program and hazardous conditions in off-range corrals. The Adoption Incentive Program is expected to provide humane and safe shelter for wild horses and decrease the likelihood of their being slaughtered. In 2021, however, a report by the New York Times found that some horses had been adopted only to be sent directly to the slaughterhouse on the taxpayer’s dime. In response, I urged the BLM to investigate. I will continue to monitor this inquiry as it progresses.


“This year, BLM facilities have also experienced frequent outbreaks of deadly respiratory and neurological illnesses. This should come as no surprise since the horses are contained in small and cramped holding pens that create ample conditions for diseases to spread quickly, not in large, grassy meadows as the BLM representative claimed on the CBS News program.

Furthermore, the internal BLM assessments of off-range facilities show documented trends of inadequate biosecurity controls, understaffing, lack of recordkeeping, limited access to hay and water, and issues related to pen maintenance. The BLM can and must do better.


“I will continue to fight for animal welfare and the protection of these iconic denizens of the Wild West. We must hold the BLM accountable.”