BLM Proposes New Policy for the Transportation of Wild Horses

In an effort to improve health and safety conditions for wild horses, Bureau of Land Management Director Pat Shea recently announced new requirements for large trailers that transport the animals from holding facilities to adoptions around the country. "The welfare of wild horses comes first," Shea said. "We want to reduce the chance for injury and stress to these living legends and improve conditions associated with their transportation."

The new policy requires one-level trailers that meet height specifications, rather than the two-level trailers often being used now. Concerns about BLM using two-level trailers to transport wild horses have been expressed in the past and were again raised at the recent Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting.

The BLM anticipates full implementation of this policy by October 1. This will give contractors who transport wild horses time to ensure trailers meet the new standards. In the interim every effort will be made to secure one-level trailers, but if they are not available, the use of two-level trailers will be allowed under close supervision.

"The Humane Society of the United States applauds this decision," said Dr. Allen Rutberg. "By giving horses the headroom they need, straight deck trailers will minimize the risk of injury and reduce transportation stress. Transporting wild horses to adoption sites in straight deck trailers will also help assure that potential adopters will recognize them for the robust, rugged, and valuable animals they truly are."

Under the 1971 Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, the BLM manages 42,000 wild horses and burros that roam public lands in the West. The law mandates the protection, management, and control of wild horses and burros in a manner that ensures a healthy, viable population of free-roaming herds within the limits of available public land resources.

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