Interior's New Wild Horse Chief Confronts Growing Herds, Costs

Joan Guilfoyle, the new head of Interior's wild horse and burro program, faces a dilemma. The 38,000 animals roaming 34 million western acres are breeding rapidly. If she moves to fast to cull them, she faces the wrath of conservationists; if she moves too slowly, she faces the wrath of ranchers.

"Joan Guilfoyle is the federal official in charge of stemming the growth of more than 38,000 wild horses and burros that roam 34 million acres over 10 Western states.

Lacking natural predators, the herds are breeding rapidly and can double their numbers once every four years.

Federal law forces her agency, the Bureau of Land Management, to cull 12,000 horses from the wild in order to protect the animals from starvation and preserve the range for other public lands users such as ranchers, she said.

But in doing so, her agency risks a public lashing from lawmakers and horse advocates who say corralling them is costly and potentially harmful to the animals.

Leave the horses alone, however, and the agency risks a backlash from agricultural communities and their lawmakers, who argue unchecked herd growth could harm the range and other wildlife.  "

Phil Taylor reports for Greenwire September 20, 2011.

Source: Greenwire, 09/22/2011