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Natural Resources & Energy

The BLM is in process of rounding up about half of the state's wild horses in Sweetwater County

Wild horses running in the prairie in front of snow-covered mountains.
Bureau of Land Management via Attribution 2.0 Generic
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Former President Donald Trump announced a goal to decrease the amount of western wild horses by the end of the fiscal year 2022. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is following this plan by capturing roughly 4,300 wild horses living in southwestern Wyoming.

This reduces the state's wild horse population by about 45 percent. The BLM said these management efforts are needed because the landscape can't sustain the number of horses. But Grace Kuhn with the American Wild Horse Campaign disagrees.

"In actuality, the number of cattle and sheep in [the] federally designated wild horse habitat vastly exceeds the number of wild horses," said Kuhn.

The area is known as a checkerboard, meaning an intermix of private and public land. Kuhn said most of the private land is owned by the Rock Springs Grazing Association and they compete for the resources with the horses. The association has denied these accusations citing BLM plans to reduce population levels.

About 800 of the horses that are captured will be set free again after mares are treated with a temporary fertility control.

The American Wild Horse Campaign believes the BLM should increase the population limit for the area and reduce livestock grazing on portions of public land so the land can withhold the population.

"If the helicopters must fly, then the action should be focused on fertility control with horses being treated and released back to the range. And if removals do occur, they should be dramatically reduced," she said.

The wild horse association claims that the round-up could cost taxpayers over $175 million. They also say reducing the number of wild horses could hurt Rock Springs ecotourism which has started wild horse tours.

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