You Can't Drag Them Away: An Economic Analysis of the Wild Horse and Burro Program

Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 41(1): 1-24

Posted: 1 Dec 2016

See all articles by Vanessa Elizondo

Vanessa Elizondo

Universidad de Chile - Facultad de Derecho

Timothy Fitzgerald

Texas Tech University; Independent

Randal R. Rucker

Montana State University - Bozeman - Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 1, 2016

Abstract

Since 1971 wild horses and burros living on federal land have been legally protected. This protection limits the removal of horses from the range and stipulates restrictive conditions under which removed horses can be transferred to private ownership. The Bureau of Land Management periodically gathers some of these horses to prevent overpopulation on the range. An empirical analysis of BLM gathers finds political as well as biological influences on the probability and size of gathers. Once these horses are removed from the range, BLM tries to place them in private hands. However, the low quality of some wild horses and contractual restrictions prevent many of the animals from being transferred. As a result, BLM incurs substantial costs to feed these animals for the rest of their lives. An empirical analysis of the demand for wild horses decomposes the probability of disposal and the price received for the horses. These results permit analysis of alternative policy regimes that promote disposal of additional animals and lower program costs. We estimate that a more permissive adoption regime could have reduced program costs by $370-452 million over the past 25 years.

Keywords: wild horses and burros, public lands, natural resources policy

JEL Classification: H43, H82, Q28

Suggested Citation

Elizondo, Vanessa and Fitzgerald, Tim and Rucker, Randal R., You Can't Drag Them Away: An Economic Analysis of the Wild Horse and Burro Program (January 1, 2016). Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics 41(1): 1-24, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2877197

Vanessa Elizondo

Universidad de Chile - Facultad de Derecho

Avda. Pío Nono N° 1, Piso 2
Providencia, Santiago
Chile
Chile

Tim Fitzgerald (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University ( email )

2500 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

Independent ( email )

Randal R. Rucker

Montana State University - Bozeman - Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics ( email )

Bozeman, MT 59717-2920
United States
406-994-5644 (Phone)
406-994-4838 (Fax)

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