Continuing work that began in August 2021, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations released more of its FY2022 Appropriations bills this week, including the Interior Appropriations bill that funds the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro program. The bill provides over $151.5 million in funding for a sustainable wild horse and burro management plan that includes robust fertility control. This is a $36 million increase from FY2021, with a significant allocation of $11 million dedicated to fertility control implementation.
The bill includes the prohibition of lethal management of these majestic animals, a hard-won victory just a few years ago, and the report accompanying the bill mandates that the agency follows its Comprehensive Animal Welfare Program in all handling of horses and burros.
We have been concerned that the BLM has focused far too much on removing animals from the range to control populations and failed to scale up safe and humane fertility control treatments for wild horses and burros as congress intended.
The ASPCA, along with other animal advocacy organizations, recently sent a letter to Interior Secretary Debra Haaland, expressing our alarm over BLM’s withdrawal from its original plans to increase fertility control implementation in 2021. Despite multiple years of increased funding to the program and congressional support for this approach, BLM has yet to implement the ASPCA-backed comprehensive management strategy designed to manage herds sustainably and humanely with fertility control.
We are grateful for the Senate’s continued commitment to providing the resources, directives and oversight of the BLM to make this shift toward reliance on fertility control, including:
Referencing the effectiveness of existing fertility control methods. This language directs BLM to immediately apply current fertility technologies rather than wait for future developments. Pointing out that just removing horses from the range is a bankrupt strategy and may be counterproductive. Continuing strong oversight to hold BLM accountable to humane effective management with funds, specifically noting the need to report on the use of fertility control.
We thank Subcommittee Chair Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for continuing to support a more humane vision for our wild herds and holding the agency accountable for carrying out a non-lethal, fertility control-based management program with strong welfare guidelines. We hope this and the U.S. House passage of the FY2022 Appropriations Package will lead to a change in the way the BLM is conducting its entire management program and a safer future for the herds of horses and burros who deserve nothing less.
You can be a voice to prevent suffering for these animals. Tell the Department of the Interior that you want to see a more robust, nationwide wild horse fertility control program implemented immediately.