One of my favorite things about driving around the western states is seeing wild horses and burros roaming free. These animals represent the West and have been on our continent far longer than white settlers and ranchers have been grazing cattle.

Unfortunately, for decades, these magnificent creatures have been brutally removed from our nation’s public lands – often with the use of helicopters – by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There is no long-term plan for maintaining stable and healthy rangeland populations after these removals are conducted, and those who are rounded up wait in holding pens for years, enduring cramped conditions, often without shade.

It’s time for a change. If we allow the status quo to continue, the BLM will proceed in its removals indefinitely, leading down a path that is likely to end in the use of lethal tools – slaughter and mass killings – to manage our wild horse and burro populations. To create this much-needed change, a diverse group of stakeholders has proposed an innovative, multi-tiered approach that combines removals with safe and humane fertility control initiatives, expanded adoption efforts, and attempts to ensure that horses and burros removed from public lands are placed in humane pasture facilities.

If Congress approves and funds this creative approach, within 10 years large-scale removals will no longer be needed, hazardous holding facilities will be phased out, and our nation’s wild horses and burros will finally be managed where they belong – on our public lands. Join me in calling on Montana’s congressional delegation to do right by these inspiring animals and approve this inventive approach.

Megan Maier

Bozeman