Protecting Wild Horses and Burros

This year I am joining Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D – Arleta) to author Assembly Joint Resolution 5 (AJR 5), to urge the federal government to place a roundup moratorium on the state’s free-roaming horses and burros.

Wild horses and burros can trace their North American origins way back, though current populations originated with more recent European settlement.  From the 1600s to the early 1900s, California was an ideal habitat for hundreds of thousands of these magnificent animals.

In 1971, the United States Congress unanimously passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, currently celebrating it's 50th year in law. The Act declared that “wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West … free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.”

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management oversee management of wild horses and burros on public lands. Overpopulation concerns have led to frequent roundups, often conducted with helicopters that stampede the animals into enclosures. This practice is controversial since it can lead to injury or death for panicked animals. More humane management techniques including “reserve design” which incorporates buffer zones, natural and artificial barriers, adoption and other ways to establish long-term viable populations in sustainable habitats.  

AJR 5 recognizes the 50 years of protections stating ...”That the Legislature urges the United States Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service to restore the wild horses and burros of California to their legal areas throughout the state…”  These animals are an integral part of the West and our natural heritage. They need to be protected!