BLM to Build Largest U.S. Wild Horse Containment Center in Nevada

Advocates raise humane and environmental concerns over industrial-scale feedlot.

Onaqui wild horses on public lands in Utah. Photo by Jennifer Rogers, Wild Horse Safaris | Visit to view Rogers’ amazing photography.

On Friday, the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) expressed outrage at a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposal to build a large-scale industrial agricultural facility in Nevada that will house thousands of federally-protected wild horses and burros removed from western public lands.

On September 2nd, the BLM Winnemucca District announced a 15-day public comment period on a contract with cattle company JS Livestock for the housing of up to 4,000 mustangs and burros on 100 acres of private land outside of Paradise, Nevada. AWHC notes that this would be the largest off-range facility for wild horses and burros to date.

The facility will be required to obtain state permits to designate it as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) — crowded, intensive feedlots that raise animal welfare and environmental degradation concerns. In terms of animal welfare, one of the greatest concerns is the close confinement and crowding of the animals. According to AWHC, highly-contagious bacterial infections have been known to run rampant in smaller wild horse and burros holding facilities and often leads to the death of the animals.

Currently, the BLM spends nearly 70% of its annual operating budget on roundups to remove wild horses and burros from their congressionally-designated habitat on public lands and house them in these facilities for the remainder of their lives. Meanwhile, the agency spends less than 1% on stabilizing populations on public lands through the use of proven fertility control.

“The BLM is doubling down on the most inhumane, expensive and environmentally destructive approach of rounding up these wild animals and at best, confining them for life in holding pens and at worst, sending them into the slaughter pipeline,” said Grace Kuhn, Communications Director for AWHC. “This is just another giant taxpayer subsidy for the livestock industry, which is profiting hundreds of millions of dollars every year on the backs of the iconic animals.”

Flickr/BLM Nevada/CC

Kuhn said that the lucrative government contract to warehouse 4,000 wild horses in the proposed feedlot could be worth $7.3 million annually to JS Livestock, the company that would operate the facility.

In 2020, the BLM put out solicitations for off-range facilities that will house up to 10,000 wild horses and burros in anticipation of implementing its plan to accelerate the roundup and removal of horses from public lands to the tune of $1 billion over the next few years.

About AWHC
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. In addition to advocating for the protection and preservation of America’s wild herds, AWHC implements the largest wild horse fertility control program in the world through a partnership with the State of Nevada for wild horses that live in the Virginia Range near Reno.