It's a sad image: hundreds of horses that used to run free crowded into dusty corrals with little hope of ever again galloping the open range. The Bureau of Land Management practice of rounding up wild horses and burros on thousands of acres in Utah and other Western states is creating more problems for the animals and the environment than it solves.
That's the conclusion of a National Academy of Science's National Research Council report. Continuing the roundups and long-term storage of thousands of equines is a self-perpetuating policy that does nothing to shrink the herds and costs taxpayers tens of millions. The BLM is currently feeding and caring for about 50,000 horses and burros in cramped facilities, promoting largely unsuccessful adoption programs, while much more effective methods of limiting the ability of the horses to reproduce are not thoroughly explored.
The 451-page report explains that when equine herds increase to a point that the animals' nutritional needs are not being met, their fertility naturally declines. But as the BLM continues to cull the herds, the mares continue to produce offspring every year, making more roundups necessary.