A blog post from the Washington Post's Brad Plummer highlights the wild horse crisis in the West, recently examined by researchers in a new paper from the magazine Science.

Written by Robert A. Garrott of Montana State University and Madan K. Oli of the University of Florida, that document is predicting future costs associated with wild horse care reaching $1.1 billion - and that's just for storage. (The link for the Science article requires a purchase.)

Some key takeaways from the research:

* Wild horse populations on public lands are above 33,000 right now. The Bureau of Land Management has a mandate to keep the level below 23,622.

* To control those numbers, there are 45,000 horses now on private ranches. Federal money is used to help with these relocation (round-up) efforts.


* The BLM's budget for horses has gone from $19.8 million in 2000 to $74.9 million in 2012.

* Wild horses that are unmanaged an triple in herd size in just six to eight years.

The study's authors say horse issues must be controlled. Contraception programs and longterm facility relocations are limited, however. So they're including the possibility of horse slaughter.

Meanwhile the American Wild Horse Preservation Center is saying the amount of land dedicated to livestock grazing should be limited or reduced, so wild horses have more access to that land. end mark