Are wild horses endangered?

Bureau Of Land Management Seeks People To Provide Greener Pastures For 200 Wild Horses

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management needs help finding greener pastures for 200 wild horses and is seeking proposals from contractors who can humanely provide care of these wild horses in a free-roaming pasture setting. The Bureau is looking for pastures in the following states: Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon (excluding west of the Cascade Mountain Range), South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington (excluding west of the Cascade Mountain Range), and Wyoming.

The deadline for contractors is April 29, 2016, and it is for an annual contract, the press release stated. If all goes well, there is a renewal option on the contract for a four-year or a nine-year period.

In a press release, the Bureau stated that this is “perfect opportunity to diversify a ranching operation.” All interested parties must include in their proposal to home the wild horses, documentation that proves the land’s carrying capacity, and the ranchers required head/day cost. The contractor must be able to provide the wild horses with a quality pasture, but the wild horses will also need supplemental feed during dormant months when pastures are more scarce of sustenance.

Anyone in the above states who are able to provide the quality pastures and supplemental feed the wild horses require are instructed to go online to the Government Acquisition & Grants Portal, click on “Search Public Opportunities,” and select “Reference Number” under the “Search Criteria.” The solicitation number to search for is “L16PS00305.” The solicitation form that will be found describes exactly what interested parties should submit and also where they should send it for consideration.

There’s one catch though. Applicants that are new to conducting business with the Federal government will need a Dun and Bradstreet number, but that’s easy enough to obtain online. This number is required before registering at System for Award Management, which involves no fee.

Anyone who is interested in providing the pastures for and care of the wild horses can review the National Wild Horse and Burro Program’s resource page or contact Kemi Ismael, 202-912-7098 (kismael@blm.gov) or Michael Byrd, 202-912-7037 (mbyrd@blm.gov). For help with the application, people interested in becoming contractors can visit the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) website.

The Bureau of Land Management manages and protects American wild horses and burros, but also ensures that population levels are in balance on public rangeland with the land’s resources. The reason they need to find a humane home and caregiver for the wild horses is because the current free-roaming population of the wild horses under the Bureau’s supervision was estimated at 58,150, as of March 1, 2015. This is over 31,400 more wild horses than the Bureau determined is appropriate for the federally-managed lands. While the Bureau is applying population growth-suppression (PGS) measures, it still needs help with the wild horses that are roaming the countryside currently.

The Bureau of Land Management is investing in research projects aimed at finding safe and effective ways to slow the population growth of the wild horses and remove the need to find private contractors to help care for American wild horses. This research comes after a 2013 recommendation from the National Academy of Science stating the need for new and improved PGS. These measures are and will be in accordance with The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which declared all wild free-roaming horses and burros protected by and the responsibility of the Secretary of the Interior.

Though under the protection of the Secretary of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that wild horses are neither a threatened nor endangered species, according to Oregon Live. That 2015 decision came after Friends of Animals and The Cloud Foundation filed a petition Endangered Species Act protection for many wild mustangs, which the groups said were threatened with extinction on federal lands across nearly a dozen western states. The groups were opposing the PGS sterilization programs. The Fish and Wildlife Service concluded essentially that there is no real biological difference between domesticated and wild horses.

“Although behaviors between domestic and wild, or feral, animals of the same species may differ… we find that the petition does not present substantial information that the North American wild horse may be markedly separate from other populations of horse as a consequence of behavioral differences,” the Fish and Wildlife Service said. The Bureau of Land Management agreed, stating that today’s wild horses are not native to the American land.

[Image via Pixabay]

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