Ranchers who graze their cows on federal lands are hellbent on taking wildlife and the public along with them for the ride.
June 6, 2014 | For months, ranchers in Utah’s Iron and Beaver counties have been pressuring the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove 697 out of 777 wild horses from public rangeland called the Bible Springs Complex.
What prompted them was a BLM request seeking voluntary reductions in livestock on public land suffering damage during the long drought. Faced with the loss of cheap forage for their cattle and sheep, the ranchers found a way to deflect the blame and economic burden.
Wild horses make an easy target; but that’s only as long as the BLM’s and the ranchers’ case for removal goes unexamined. The news media so far has done little probing into the issue—not in Utah, nor elsewhere ranchers lobby to get rid of wild horses.
Instead, the ranchers and BLM simply assert that the mustangs—and not privately owned livestock—are “overpopulating” and “overgrazing.” This claim is made without any scientific proof. Overgrazing as compared to what, exactly? Cattle and sheep? Neither the BLM nor the ranchers will provide data.
What is known is that the ranchers have nearly two million acres of grazing allotments in Iron and Beaver counties that overlap eight herd management areas (HMAs) where wild horses are protected. The four HMAs making up the Bible Springs Complex are just a fraction of the more than half-million acres where the wild horses (and private livestock) graze together under “multiple use” land policies. Another nearly million and a half acres of public lands provide further forage exclusively for cattle and sheep…(CONTINUED)