Could wild horses trigger the next Bundy-like standoff with the feds?
Congressman Stewart making the wild horses the “problem” is a low move. As for pushing the cattle off the range, rather the cattle are destroying the wild horses. ~ HfH
The Utah Republican’s bill is a response to growing concerns in his state about an overpopulation of wild horses. Ranchers, whose livestock compete with wild horses for scarce forage and water, are particularly anxious about the situation in the midst of a dry summer.
It’s an issue that at first glance would seem a regional concern to those in the West. But rancher passions about the issue have some comparing it to the recent Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada over grazing fees on federal land. And more broadly, it’s stirring debate over the size and scope of federal authority on vast tracts of land in Western states.
The Bureau of Land Management agrees there are more wild horses on the range than the agency wants, reports The Salt Lake Tribune. But it had planned no roundups this year because there is no room in its long-term pastures.
Stewart’s bill would allow states to implement horse and burro management plans that address the specific needs of their own state. The proposal would also give states authority to form cooperative agreements to manage herds that cross over borders. The federal government would continue to inventory the horses and burros.
“The federal government has never been able to properly manage the horses and burros in the west,” Stewart said in a statement. “Every state faces different challenges, which is why it’s important that they have the ability to manage their own wildlife.”
Stewart, first elected in 2012, argues that federally-managed wild horse ranges have been overused. That has pushed cattle off the ranges.
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