Rep. Stewart Introduces a Bill Allowing States to Manage Wild Horses and Burros
Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced legislation giving states and Indian Tribes the option to take over the management of wild horses and burros. The Wild Horse Oversight Act of 2015 would preserve all protections under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, and simply allow states to implement horse and burro management plans that address the specific needs of their own state.
“The federal government has never been able to properly manage the horses and burros in the west,” Rep. Stewart said. “Every state faces different challenges, which is why it’s important that they have the ability to manage their own wildlife.”
In the 44 years that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act has been in place, horse and burro populations have soared above the populations envisioned in the legislation. This has led to the destruction of important rangeland and habitat for native species.
“The BLM is neither capable nor equipped to manage wild horse populations, and federal stewardship has allowed their numbers to reach unsustainable levels,” Sen. Hatch said. “Deferring management authority to states and tribes is a commonsense solution that will mitigate the devastating ecological consequences horse overpopulation is causing to public lands in the West. Ranchers shouldn’t have to pay such a steep price for the federal government's inability to manage wild horse populations successfully.”
“States and tribes already successfully manage large quantities of wildlife within their borders,” Stewart continued. “If horses and burros were under that same jurisdiction, I’m confident that new ideas and opportunities would be developed to manage the herds more successfully than the federal government.”
This bill would allow states to form cooperative agreements to manage herds that cross over borders, and the federal government would continue to inventory the horses and burros to ensure that the population numbers as prescribed by the 1971 Act are maintained.
“A local approach would also allow for more partnerships between landowners, ranchers and humanitarian groups to provide better oversight and create a localized approach to each population and rangeland,” Stewart said.
For the House version of the bill, click here.
For the Senate version of the bill, click here.
Stewart introduced a similar bill in the 113th Congress.