By Scott Sonner, The Associated Press
RENO, Nevada— Federal land managers have started working on capturing about 50% more horses than they originally anticipated this year on western courses due to severe drought conditions.
The emergency roundups that began Sunday and Monday are targeting an additional 6,000 animals, mostly in Nevada, Oregon and Colorado.
The Bureau of Land Management says the increased effort is focused on places where “chronic overpopulation” of herds has already pushed available food and water to its limits.
Horse protection advocates say the emergency roundups are driven by pressure from ranchers who do not want mustangs to compete with their cattle for limited fodder and water.
Wild Horse Education President Laura Leigh said she was particularly disappointed that the Biden administration was continuing the unsuccessful policies of former President Trump and previous administrations that have prioritized the elimination of horses without moving to rule over the number of cattle and sheep grazing on the same land.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says ranchers have already made voluntary changes to reduce grazing on federal lands during a “more pervasive and dramatic” drought than they’ve seen in years.
The office has collected 1,200 animals already this year and initially intended to collect around 12,000. The new effort would bring the total to around 18,000.
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