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Utah governor making scapegoats of wild horses – advocates

Free-ranging horses from the Onaqui Herd, near Dugway, Utah.

Free-ranging horses from the Onaqui Herd, near Dugway, Utah. © BLM/Utah

Wild horse advocates have accused Utah’s governor of using wild horses as a scapegoat for range damage caused by private livestock.

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, its parent organization Return to Freedom, and its coalition partner The Cloud Foundation have written to Governor Gary Herbert over comments attributed to him late last month over wild horse management.

Herbet, whose comments were reported on Utahpolicy.com, suggested Utah should take over the management of wild horses and burros on federal lands in the state and even raised the possibility of euthanizing a number of animals to keep ranges open for cattle grazing.

Herbert said he understood how some people were frustrated with federal land managers, among them ranchers who are being told they can no longer run cattle on federal lands, or are having to reduce numbers because of drought and wild horse numbers.

“The range can’t support so many animals,” said Herbert, who asserted wild horses and burros were “breeding like rabbits”.

“We [state government] would find a way to manage that [horse/burro] population,” he said.

“It would not be popular to take down some horses, but we euthanize cats and dogs.”

An aggressive spay and neuter program was needed for wild horses and burros, he suggested.

Wild horse advocates, in their open letter to Herbert, urged him to “stop exaggerating the number of wild horses in Utah, stop scapegoating wild horses for range damage caused by private livestock, and drop suggestions that the state take over management of wild horses in Utah”.

In their letter, the groups stated: “America’s wild horses and burros are the heritage of all Americans, and Americans overwhelmingly support maintaining and protecting these animals on our public lands. They must be managed in the interest of all Americans, not the few who view mustangs as competition for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized grazing on our public lands.”

The number of wild horses paled in comparison to the number of privately owned livestock grazing on federal land in Utah, the groups said.

They said livestock grazing occurred on 22 million acres of land under the control of the Bureau of Land Management in Utah, while wild horses were restricted to just 2.1 million acres.

Fewer than 3500 wild horses are estimated to live on bureau land in Utah (one horse per 600 acres), while hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle graze the public rangelands there.

They said the bureau allocated 55 times more forage to privately owned livestock in Utah than to federally protected wild horses.

The letter, signed by Suzanne Roy, Neda DeMayo, and Ginger Kathrens, said: “Given the scarcity of wild horses in your state and the small amount of federal land designated as their habitat, your focus on these nationally cherished animals is simply not justified.

“Please do not attempt to scapegoat wild horses for the damage to our public rangelands caused by livestock; the facts are clearly not on your side if you do.”

They continued: “America’s wild horses and burros are the heritage of all Americans, and Americans overwhelming support maintaining and protecting these animals on our public lands.

“America’s wild horses and burros must be managed in the interest of all Americans, not the few who view mustangs as competition for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized grazing on our public lands.

“National polls demonstrate solid public support for protecting wild horses and burros on our public lands and strong opposition to the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

“By contrast, only 29 percent of Americans want to ensure that our public lands are available for livestock grazing.

“At the same time, the number of wild horses in Utah is dwarfed by the huge number of privately owned cattle and sheep that graze the public rangelands.”

Ranchers in Utah and other areas of the West grazed their livestock on public lands for fees that are a fraction of the market rate, thanks to tax subsidies.

“If you continue to recommend that the state take over management of wild horses (something that would violate federal law), we trust that you will also recommend to Utah ranchers that they reject federal subsidies and instead pay market rate to graze livestock on the lands at issue.”

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  1. Christie says:

    In April 1993 there was an exchange of public lands between the UTAH and NEVADA that allowed the Law Vegas area to move the protected tortoise to Clark County in order for the city of Las Vegas to continue to grow. This suited the goals of the Clinton administration because their intent at this time was to eliminate or reduce livestock grazing on public lands and greatly reduce or eradicate all wild horse populations. After attempts to excluse species on western public lands based on their alleged non-native origin failed to be included in the 1976 FLMPA and EO 11987 did not exclude already established species, the FWS, IUCN, TNC turned this over to the IUCN’s legal team who drafted the alien species provision in Article 8 (h) in the CBD. Article 8 (h) instructs parties to prevent, control, and eradicate species that did not originate where found. The catch is that none of the individuals writing this or coming up with the invasive species paradigm bothered to find out where the species originated. The horse is a native North American species. The 50,000 year old individual’s DNA is being entered in the GenBank as Equus caballus. In 1996 the FAO began redrafting the 1979 update to the International Plant Protection Convention. In June 2000 Congress passed a comprehensive agricultural risk protection act. Within it was an update to the 1957 Plant Protection Act, but the 2000 version included animal species as plant pests as did the 1997 International Plant Protection Convention. In October 2000 the Senate ratified the 1997 Update of the IPPC. The 1997 IPPC went into full force 10/02/2005—just in time for the Reid driven Burns rider to eradicate America’s wild horses through the horrifically cruel practice of slaughter. I sincerely hope that Governor Herbert will consider the contributions that wild horses can make to the ranges. BLM has been mismanaging horses and has followed the false scientific propaganda paid for by World Bank, The Nature Conservancy, the International Union for the Conservation and Natural Resources, the FAO, CABI. However, let no one be misled. The entire native-non-native species and non-native species construct is a human one and exists in contradiction to both nature and scientific research. The IUCN didn’t do any research on this at all until after they knew Article 8 (h) had been written into the 97 IPPC. This did not begin in the UN. It began ar Harvard in the 1960’s and it has contaminated our environment, our laws, our attitudes about one another, and until reasonable and scientifically literate men and women can sit down and look at the authentic research that does exist (just not in this country) and figure out how to and who should manage our public lands. Utah has been hurt more than most states by the Clinton land lock agenda—I wish the people of Utah the best and pray that Governor Herbert will be both wise and merciful when it comes to deciding the fate of our wild horses.

    Consider that someone like me that lives on the other side of the continental divide would have had no interest in this issue if not for a few mustangs that ended up right in front on me so far away from their native lands. But those wild horses turned out to be harbingers whose story warned me that there not only their freedom was at stake, but all of our freedom is on the line.

  2. PATIENCE says:

    People….please stop eating beef and lamb for awhile…if there is no demand there will be a lot less cattle grazing…try going vegan or just eat chicken for 1 yr….please !

    • dk says:

      I have stopped eating beef since last summer because of these pesky Welfare Ranchers and will continue to boycott beef until this situation is resolved and the Welfare Ranchers start to behave as ladies and gentlemen, and this includes the Governor of Utah.

  3. colts western shop says:

    Utah is on the list of the worst of the animal humane law states. The Governor would do well to try and protect the horses and save some face for his state, there are 49 other states waiting to see if he is going to push for inhumane treatment of horses or if he will help to resolve this and allow the horses their right to freedom. All eyes are on UTAH, when you mention the horses you get an entire Nation, if not, the World riveted on you. Which will it be Governor Herbert Humane and compassion, or death by intent to graze cattle”?

  4. dk says:

    Regarding the management of the Mustangs by the BLM, why not have the Mustang groups that are 501c3’s take out grazing permits for the Mustangs and manage the herds themselves? The BLM would not need to be involved in herd management, nor any state agencies.

    The U.S. Government could make donations to cover the $1.35 per head per month, and spend a whole lot less money donating to the 501c3 Mustang groups than they are right now with the current BLM/Mustang program.

    There are at least one of these 501c3 Mustang groups for every state with Mustangs. These groups, which are tax-deductible, would manage the herds with a heart, and this would be much less expensive and this would protect our Mustangs and stop upsetting the American public.

    The donations by the U.S. Government would reimburse the Mustang charities for the $1.35 per head per month grazing fees. The BLM would no longer be involved in managing our Federally-protected wild Mustangs.

    It would be required that the Mustangs would be allotted up to 25% of the grazing land, and not less than 15%.

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