Wildish Podcast: Wild horses in a not-so-wild West
Episode One: Is federal mustang management reaching a breaking point?
In 1971, Congress created one of the most intractable resource management conundrums when it passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. The law, which called for protecting wild horses and burros as living symbols of American history, sparked a population boom in the West. Indeed, according to the Bureau of Land Management, there is an overpopulation crisis. The 10 Western states have enough public land to support 27,000 wild horses and burros, but today, the population is approaching 100,000. The wild horses and burros that are gathered via helicopter and put into holding facilities devour more than half of the annual budget of the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. And the costs go up every year, even as the population increases. The many stakeholders have very different visions for how the species ought to be managed, but the end result is that wild horses are not very wild anymore. If wildlife managers, landowners, wild horse advocates and the BLM cannot work together to come to a solution, the Wild Horse and Burro Program will reach a breaking point. In this first episode of Wildish, host Anna Coburn introduces some of the people on the frontlines.