From: The Spectrum
By: Tracie Sullivan
CEDAR CITY – With plans to gather 200 wild horses off the range next month, the Bureau of Land Management held their annual public hearing Wednesday night to solicit comments from the public on the agency’s plans to use motorized vehicles and helicopters during the scheduled roundups.
Approximately 30 people showed up for the hearing — the hearing is required under the Wild Horse and Burro Act.
While the meeting was held mainly to discuss motorized vehicles and helicopters, many in the crowd represented largely by ranchers used the opportunity to express concerns.
Their main argument: The BLM has broken the law by allowing the horse populations to increase over the appropriate management levels.
Iron County rancher Matt Wood accused the BLM of releasing wild horses in the area, saying he had witnessed horse numbers double on his range in 2009-2010, during the same period the agency claimed to have herds at the appropriate management level.
Pointing to BLM’s numbers that figure average horse populations grow at approximately 20 to 25 percent a year, Wood said he counted more than 200 on his range at the time.
BLM Wild Horse and Burro Lead Gus Warr admitted that if Wood counted that many, it meant there probably was at least 400.
“If we were somewhere near on the Bible Springs Complex, close to AML, which is minimum 80 to maximum 170, it’s not very likely that those numbers could have increased on our part of that that quickly unless they came out of a truck,” Wood said. “And I think we were victims of a lot of that.”
Warr denied that the BLM loads up horses from one area and dumps in another, but did say it does happen on specific occasions.
“. . . Except I’ve done that where I’ve actually brought in mares and turned them loose in Blawn Wash, Bible Springs to increase color confirmation, but that would be half a dozen, six or seven mares,” Warr said.
During an interview, Wood said he had seen the trail of horse manure and footprints where it appeared obvious to him there were many horses “dumped off” not just a few.