Utah ranchers sue BLM, demand removal of wild horses
Angered by the amount of money the BLM used to attempt to remove illegal cattle in Nevada, Utah ranchers now demand that over half of the wild horses in their area be removed – the total numbering around 1800. These horses live on the public land provided by law for them. The ranchers claim they are living on their private land. Funny how previously they did not use this claim…before it was just about their rights to have their cattle graze on public land. Anything to rid the area of wild horses. Now a lawsuit. If you were to only read the first half of the article, you would think the numbers of wild horses to far higher. After reading, be sure to comment on the original article as well as ours. Let your voice be heard! ~ HfH
From: The Salt Lake City Tribune
By: Kristen Moulton
Thirteen ranchers in southwestern and central Utah are asking a federal judge to order the Bureau of Land Management to control the burgeoning number of wild horses that share the range with their cattle and sheep.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City names Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, BLM Director Neil Kornze and BLM Utah Director Juan Palma as defendants.
The ranchers, angry about BLM requests that they slash their herds (or the herds’ time on the range) in half, formed the Western Rangeland Conservation Association this winter, pooling their money to bring the lawsuit. The Utah Farm Bureau Federation along with Iron and Beaver counties also have pledged money to pay for the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges the BLM has failed to comply with the Wild Horses and Burros Act of 1971 by not controlling the number of wild horses on BLM rangeland as well as on private and state lands.
The ranges are deteriorating as wildlife, horses and livestock compete for scarce grasses, brush and water, the ranchers say.
Horses have damaged range improvements made by ranchers, such as fences, springs and other water developments, the lawsuit says, and ranchers have had to haul extra water and feed to their animals as well as cut back on their grazing.
“Many plaintiffs have maintained their livelihoods via ranching operations for multiple generations. Due to economic limitations and the fact that the wild horses are federally protected, plaintiffs can do nothing to prevent damages to their private and the public rangelands,” the lawsuit says.
Mark Wintch, a rancher in the Wah Wah Valley west of Milford, is president of the rancher association. “We’re simply asking that they stay within their own management plan and quit abusing us,” Wintch said.
The BLM acknowledges there are 14,000 more wild horses in the West than the ecosystems can maintain, but pleads poverty in regards to doing anything about them.
The agency announced last year that it would not do roundups this year because it lacks the money, particularly for long-term pasturing of wild horses.
The BLM’s own target numbers for wild horses in the West is 26,000, but there are now nearly 40,000, the agency says on its website.