DENVER (CBS4) – There are approximately 70,000 wild horses and burros on public lands in the West and there’s been a controversy about how to deal with them.

The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board is an independent panel comprised of members of the public that make recommendations to the Bureau of Land Management regarding its management of wild horses and burros.

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They say if they don’t manage the wild horse population many of them will die of starvation.

The BLM is committed to having healthy horses on healthy rangelands.

Wild horses in Rio Blanco County (credit: CBS)

Wild horses in Rio Blanco County (credit: CBS)

“We will continue to care for and seek good homes for animals that have been removed from the range. Currently, there are more than 67,000 wild horses and burros on public rangelands, and the BLM is caring for nearly 50,000 animals in off-range corrals and pastures. The Bureau of Land Management’s priority is to have healthy wild horses and burros on healthy public rangelands,” the board said in a statement.

The BLM announced that it will not euthanize healthy animals.

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A wild horse on the Western Slope (credit: CBS)

A wild horse on the Western Slope (credit: CBS)

“The agency continues to seek new and better tools for managing the nation’s quickly expanding population of wild horses. There are nearly 70,000 horses on public lands in the West — three times the recommended level — and nearly 50,000 additional horses that have been removed from the range and are available for adoption.”

Officials said the the cost of caring for each animal that goes unadopted can be nearly $50,000 a year.

Additional Information From The National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board

The BLM will continue caring for and seeking good homes for unadopted and unsold animals currently held in off-range corrals and pastures.

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To learn how to adopt or purchase a wild horse or burro call 866-4MUSTANGS; e-mail wildhorse@blm.gov; or visit www.blm.gov/whb.