"There are fewer than 41,000 on public lands, where they are supposed to be protected," said Jenni Barnes, staff attorney, FoA's Wildlife Law Program. "The petition states that these few remaining horses are divided into even smaller herds, whose populations are so low that they are susceptible to being wiped out completely by a chance event or change in the environment."
Listing wild horses, which the BLM claims are non-native despite scientific evidence, as either threatened or endangered under the ESA would provide needed regulation to halt further exploitation of this species, particularly roundups removing the animals from their range.
BLM claims that wild horses need to be removed from public lands to protect rangeland health. However the vast majority of public lands is open to livestock grazing, which causes far more damage to the land. In Wyoming, for example, livestock far outnumber wild horses. There are 356,222 cattle; 45,206 sheep; and 1,912 wild horses, within the three HMAs targeted for roundup, according to the BLM's own data.