Washington, DC - Today Representative Dina Titus, a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, reintroduced the bipartisan Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 2023, along with Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).
In efforts to control equine populations, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently directed to “humanely capture” wild free-roaming horses and burros and set them up for adoption. To assist in the roundup, or “gathering”, of wild horses and burros, the BLM contracts directly with private enterprises, including helicopter companies, to pursue equines over long distances, creating situations that can be frightening and even deadly to the animals.
These roundup practices also come at a steep cost to taxpayers. Since the beginning of fiscal year 2006, the BLM’s roundup contracts have paid some $57.4 million in taxpayer dollars to helicopter companies, including at least $6.5 million since the beginning of fiscal year 2022 alone. Scientific research has shown that more humane and cost-effective alternatives, like fertility control, are equally effective in controlling equine populations. The BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program, however, currently spends less than one percent of its budget on these methods. Rep. Titus’s Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act of 2023 would more effectively advance the BLM’s directive to humanely capture horses while providing significant savings for taxpayers.
“Nevada is home to more wild horses than any other state in our country. Tragically, these animals are subjected to taxpayer-funded helicopter roundups and removals that are all too often costly, ineffective, and inhumane,” said Rep. Titus, a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. “My legislation would eliminate the use of helicopters in BLM wild horse gathers and require a report to explore the benefits of alternative aircraft for humanely gathering horses and the workforce opportunities for traditional cowboys. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan proposal that would protect these icons of the American West which remain a source of pride for Nevada residents.”
“I am proud to co-sponsor and support this important legislation that protects wild horses from dangerous roundups that too often put the lives of these animals at risk,” said Rep. Schweikert. “The Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act encourages humane and cost-effective alternatives to capture wild horses and ensure they can continue to flourish in Arizona and other western states.”
“I am pleased again to join Congresswoman Titus in introducing this measure to protect wild horses and burros by discouraging the use of helicopters in roundups and encouraging greater use of fertility control drugs on these iconic animals by the Bureau of Land Management,” said Rep. Cohen, a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus.
“We applaud Congresswoman Titus, Congressman Schweikert, and Congressman Cohen for their leadership in protecting our nation’s wild horses. Reforms are long overdue to the Bureau of Land Management’s failed management approach, which involves stampeding panicked horses through helicopter roundups. These roundups are cruel, expensive, and ultimately ineffective at stabilizing populations. Wild equines deserve to be managed safely and humanely in their natural habitats for Americans to enjoy,” said Dr. Joanna Grossman, Equine Program Director and Senior Advisor for the Animal Welfare Institute.
“We are thankful to wild horse champions Congresswoman Titus, Congressman Cohen, and Congressman Schweikert for standing up for our nation’s wild horses and burros. Roundups are inhumane and cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars each year. Grounding these helicopters and utilizing more humane methods of managing wild horse populations on the range, such as fertility control vaccines, would go a long way toward protecting our wild horses and burros and saving tax dollars,” said Holly Gann Bice, Director of Government Relations for the American Wild Horse Campaign.
Earlier today, Rep. Titus submitted a statement to the BLM as part of a public hearing to examine the use of motorized vehicles and aircraft in managing wild horses and burros.