You are currently viewing The Path “Backward” for Wild Horses and Burros

The Path “Backward” for Wild Horses and Burros

Hayden and Nelson in snow
Photo: Jim Craner – Hayden and Nelson are Wild American Mustangs who are permanent residents at Equine Advocates Rescue & Sanctuary. Sadly, the remaining herds of Wild Horses and Burros living on our Public Lands are in jeopardy of being destroyed and becoming extinct now that the disastrous “Path Forward” was approved by Congress.


A new Bureau of Land Management plan called “The Path Forward” was recently approved by Congress, giving the federal agency an additional $21 million to execute a potentially dangerous and inhumane mission to decrease wild horse populations in the United States.

The language in the proposal is extremely vague and does not specify concrete plans for targeted fertility control, leaving room for mass roundups and inhumane sterilization methods. This plan could cause 130,000 horses to be removed from the lands in the next ten years, according to The Cloud Foundation, drastically diminishing wild horse populations and threatening the very existence of these regal animals.

Large groups like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, The American Farm Bureau Foundation and the Public Lands Council also support the plan, which enables the inhumane roundup, removal and rehoming of wild horses and burros from public grounds, and subjects those still living on the land to potentially dangerous sterilization techniques, according to the American Wild Horse Campaign. These cruel tactics will separate equine families, and subject wild horses to unnatural living conditions and possible domestication through temporary government corral holding facilities and adoption.


Unfortunately, The Path Forward has also been backed by several large animal welfare groups, including The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and Return to Freedom, among others. BUT NOT US. We at Equine Advocates strongly oppose this awful “plan” which we call, “The Path Backward!”

Ironically, the budgeting plan was approved close to the 48th anniversary of the signing of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which was put in place to protect our nation’s iconic wild equines. Since it’s passing, ranchers and special interest groups have worked alongside politicians to dismantle this landmark protection act.

The House Natural Resources Committee led by Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) even tried to prevent federal funds from going toward inhumane sterilization surgeries as part of this horrific plan. You can read the bipartisan letter from Grijalva and his 11 House colleagues here, which recommends alternative and more humane solutions. Unfortunately, The Path Forward was still approved, and pleas made by Grijalva and his colleagues were rejected.

The $21 million increase is currently being withheld until the BLM submits a more comprehensive report detailing their methods for an aggressive, but non-lethal, population control strategy and a better idea of how the additional funding will be spent.

Tens of thousands of citizens are voicing their opposition to “The Path Forward.” We hope you will continue to keep the pressure on your members of Congress, as well. We will keep you updated about this truly life-threatening plan that will no doubt lead America’s precious Wild Horse and Burro herds on the road to extinction.