A bipartisan group of lawmakers have asked those in charge of reconciling Department of the Interior 2020 funding bills to limit new revenue earmarked for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) wild horse program and to clarify language pertaining to how appropriated funds are used to control wild herd population growth. The request is in response to a Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2020, funding report.

Earlier this year the BLM adopted a pilot project calling for, among other things, strategic gathers that targeted herds in highly populated HMAs and a “robust” pilot program for wild herd management.

In a Dec. 10 letter, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, and a nonpartisan group of lawmakers asked senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and others involved in reconciling the House and Senate Interior, Environment appropriations bills to cap additional funding for BLM at $6 million, as contained in the House bill. It also calls on lawmakers to clarify report language so the new funding can only be used to underwrite porcine zona pelucida (PZP, used for fertility control) vaccine use and to ensure the report language bans using funds for surgical sterilization procedures.

Cloud Foundation founder Ginger Kathrens praised the funding cap proposed in the letter.

“The appropriation of additional funds to this program, especially as BLM has failed to present any kind of plan to Congress, would be a grave mistake,” Kathrens said.

Meanwhile, naturalist and wild horse advocate William E. Simpson II said provisions contained in the letter are not enough to promote significant change in the way the BLM manages wild herds.

“Changing management policies so they fall in line with the best, current science—as opposed to using myth and misinformation as a basis for establishing management policies—is the path to long-term, genetically sustainable herd management,” Simpson said.