Rebellious Ranchers Round Up Federally Protected Wild Horses

Monday, April 14, 2014
Wild horses in a BLM holding pen (photo: Scott Sonner, AP)

Officials of a Utah county are planning an illegal roundup of wild horses from federal land to satisfy ranchers whose livestock compete with the horses for food.


Commissioners in Iron County, Utah, complain that there are more horses on the land than the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has planned for and that the bureau has done a poor job of managing the horses, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. County Commissioner David Miller claims there are 2,000 wild horses in the county, while wild horse advocates say the number of less than 500.


The commissioners say that if the BLM doesn’t act, the county will. However, public roundups are illegal.


The county’s threat has drawn fire from advocacy groups. According to the Tribune, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, Return to Freedom and The Cloud Foundation sent a letter from their attorneys to national, Utah and Nevada BLM directors as well as the Iron County Commission and sheriff.


“We urge the Utah officials—who have no jurisdiction in this matter—to refrain from removing wild horses from BLM lands in violation of federal law,” the letter read. “We also urge the Utah and Nevada BLM offices to adhere to the federal laws, policies and procedures that are in place to protect wild horses.”


Utah BLM director Juan Palma has offered a plan for captured horses to be kept on fenced land volunteered by a rancher. The bureau will feed and maintain the horses until they’re adopted or otherwise moved.


The proposed roundup “is a bullying tactic by ranchers who consider our public lands as their private range for grazing livestock,” said Suzanne Roy, director of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. “This practice is not economically or environmentally sustainable, nor is it supported by the public.” In a Public Policy Polling survey released in January, 72 percent of respondents supported protecting wild horses and burros as “living symbols of the history and pioneer spirit of the West.”

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Wild Horses Targeted for Roundup in Utah Rangeland Clashb(by Jennifer Dobner, Reuters)

Amid Criticism, Iron County, BLM Plan Wild Horse Roundup (by Brett Prettyman, Salt Lake Tribune)

Iron County To Feds: Remove Wild Horses Or We Will (by Brett Prettyman, Salt Lake Tribune)

Utah County Orders Round Up Of Federally-Protected Wild Horses To Protect Local Ranchers (by Jennifer Dobner, Reuters)

Bureau of Land Management Refuses Public Photographing of Wild Horse Roundups (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


Lindi 3 years ago
Put the cattle in the fenced area until they are adopted or otherwise moved. These cattle are so heavily subsidized by the American taxpayers that they belong to ranchers in name only. Ranchers should graze their cattle on their own land or else learn a new trade. They are destroying our public land and native animals with their selfishness and greed. The free lunch program for ranchers needs to end now!
gary martin 3 years ago
again....a case of human greed and inhumanity towards animal
Anne Grice 3 years ago
Greed and inhumanity seems to over power rationality when it comes to protecting animals. Humans' contempt for the lives of animals seems to have infected this degenerating planet
Carol 4 years ago
I want to know why there is so much inaction on the part of our federal government when it comes to protecting our wild horses and allowing ranchers practically free grazing rights on public lands.

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