The federal government’s brutal and inhumane roundup and removal plan is optional. We have a choice to spend millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars to have terrorize this cherished herd of wild horses with helicopters, stampede them into pens, separate them from their families and confine them for life — or we can manage them in the wild using humane, effective and cheaper alternatives like birth control.

Each and every wild horse that falls victim to this federal program is a lost icon of the freedom and untamed beauty that make this country great. We must demand an end to these practices before it’s too late. We must #SaveOnaqui.

Implement a Comprehensive Fertility Control Program

About: PZP Fertility Control

In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a report which provides a roadmap for the BLM to move forward with a scientific approach to wild horse management that includes stopping the removal of wild horses from the range and starting to manage wild horses on the range with fertility control. The BLM must implement a comprehensive PZP fertility control program to humanely manage wild horses in the Onaqui HMA. This approach would reduce population growth rates and population numbers over time, and maintains herd social structures.

In 2012, the BLM vaccinated just 57 mares with PZP-22 and returned them to the HMA. And, while AWHC applauds the BLM for partnering with the Wild Horses of America Foundation to administer the PZP vaccine in this HMA, in FY 2017, they delivered only 53 doses (primer and booster) for a total of 39 mares being fully treated. These numbers are far too few to make a difference in reproductive rates on the range.

The BLM must expand it’s partnership with the Wild Horses of America Foundation and other volunteers to assist the BLM in locating and treating an adequate number of mares with PZP. AWHC partnered with Wild Horses of America to offer a proposal for expansion of the Onaqui PZP program. The type of public-private partnership outlined has been very effective in managing wild horse population in other HMAs and is a model program.

The letter sent a letter to leadership at BLM Utah in March 2018, offered our resources to support the BLM in making their current fertility program a success. Specifically, we offered the following resources to support the Onaqui fertility control program:

  • A qualified team of darters;

  • Customized WHIMS database for identification and personnel to identify/catalogue horses in the data base; and

  • Vaccine, guns, darts and other necessary equipment and supplies.

To date, the BLM has declined our offer, but we stand ready and able to follow through. This herd is highly accessible for darting with birth control. There is no excuse for BLM’s failure to adequately utilize this tool to manage the horses on the range.


Adjust Appropriate Management Levels

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Reduce Livestock Grazing

While the BLM has set arbitrarily low wild horse population limits, it authorizes a maximum of 12,840 AUMs for livestock in the 10 grazing allotments that lie partially or wholly within the HMAs. This is the grazing equivalent of about 1,070 cow/calf pairs or 5,350 sheep for one year.

The BLM claims this drastic action is needed to preserve sage grouse habitat and restore land damaged by wildfires. At the same time, the agency permits several thousand cows and sheep to graze on allotments in and around the HMA, with heavy concentrations of livestock grazing during winter and early spring – the most critical growth period for rangeland health. Yet the BLM has no plans to reduce livestock grazing until a determination process is completed.

The BLM’s plan is to remove 90% of the Onaqui herd and not consider whether the reduction of livestock would help achieve the agency’s goal of preserving sage grouse habitat and restoring land damaged by wildfires. Once again, the BLM will be scapegoating wild horses for environmental damage caused by poor rangeland management and pandering to a special interest group – ranching.