Wild Horses and Burros Management

The Bureau of Land Management created the Wild Horse and Burro Program to implement the Wild-Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, passed by Congress in 1971. Broadly, the law declares wild horses and burros to be “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” and stipulates that the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service have the responsibility to manage and protect herds in their respective jurisdictions within areas where wild horses and burros were found roaming in 1971.

To maintain wild horses and burros in good condition and protect the health of our public lands, the BLM must manage the population growth of wild horse and burro herds. Without natural population controls, such as predation, herds can increase at a rate of up to 20 percent annually, doubling in size in just 4 to 5 years, if not appropriately managed. Population control must be implemented to protect scarce and fragile resources in the arid West and ensure healthy animals and healthy rangelands.

To carry out this mission, the BLM controls herd growth through the application of fertility control measures, such as contraceptives, and through the periodic removal of excess animals. Removed animals receive veterinary treatment and are placed in off-site holding facilities where every effort is made to find private ownership through an incentivized adoption program.

BLM Utah manages 19 wild horse and burro herd management areas on nearly 2.4 million acres in Utah. The combined appropriate management level for all HMAs in the state of Utah is 1,956 animals.

Utah has two contracted off-range corrals and one BLM corral with a holding capacity of 5,550 animals. As of Aug. 21, 2021, these facilities are currently holding approximately 1,910 animals (1,799 horses and 111 burros). As of Aug. 21, 2021, Utah also has one off-range pasture currently caring for approximately 490 horses near Fountain Green, Utah.

Since 1971, the BLM has removed approximately 17,942 animals from public rangelands in Utah as part of its efforts to maintain healthy horses and burros on healthy public rangelands.  BLM Utah has placed 9,288 wild horses and burros into private care since 1971. Animals removed from public rangelands are offered to the public for adoption; unadopted animals are cared for on open pastures for the rest of their lives. 

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