Officials announce schedule for roundups of wild horses, burros
The federal Bureau of Land Management on Friday released the tentative calendar for its annual wild-horse and burro roundups.
The roundups begin this month and continue through next March in California and several Western states. The BLM is expected to gather thousands of animals via helicopter herding. Some of the horses are to be removed from the range and others -- about 2,000 horses -- are to receive a fertility-control vaccine.
The controversial program has drawn criticism from animal-welfare advocates in the past as being unnecessary and harmful to the horses and foals. In response, the BLM has allowed the public to observe the roundups.
The BLM estimates that approximately 33,00 wild horses and about 5,500 burros roam BLM-managed range lands in 10 Western states, based on data from February 2011. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators, and their herd sizes can double about every four years.
Public-lands ranchers complain that the animals compete with livestock for scarce food in the arid West.
-- Julie Cart
Photo: Wild horses gallop on the open range in 2010. Credit: Alan Berner / Associated Press