Letter to the editor: BLM horse roundups cost taxpayers millions

By Grace Kuhn special to Billings Gazette

February 20, 2022

Maggie Buttrell says she’s a big fan of federally funded wild horse roundups, but I have to wonder why.

Roundups cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars each year. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s current roundup plan will cost an estimated $1 billion over the next five years.

These millions go to special interests in the livestock industry. Federal records show that the BLM has spent:

• $53.2 million for helicopter roundup and bait-trapping operations since 2006.

• $87 million for short-term holding corrals since 2010.

• $333 million for long-term holding pastures since 2004.

Those high costs, and the fact that roundups result in the death and injuries of hundreds of horses each year, is the reason an increasing number of decision-makers are calling on BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning to stop the waste and find more cost-effective solutions to managing our nation’s wild horses.

One solution, in fact, lies close to home. The PZP fertility control vaccine that prevents pregnancy in mares is made by a non-profit in Billings. It costs $220 to dart a horse with PZP, compared to the $50,000 per horse BLM is spending to round up and remove mustangs from the range. A report from the National Academies of Sciences shows that not only is fertility control a more humane approach than roundups, it also does a better job of keeping herd numbers under control.

It’s high time for BLM to do better. Wild horses and our pocketbooks will benefit.

Originally posted by Billings Gazette