Utah Rep. Chris Stewart introduces bill in attempt to give States & Indian Tribes the Ability to Manage Wild Horses and Burros.
June 10, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) introduced legislation that would give states and Indian Tribes the option to take over the management of wild horses and burros. The Wild Horse Oversight Act of 2014 would preserve all protections under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, and simply allow states to implement horse and burro management plans that address the specific needs of their own state.
“The federal government has never been able to properly manage the horses and burros in the west,” Stewart said. “Every state faces different challenges, which is why it’s important that they have the ability to manage their own wildlife.”
In the 43 years that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act has been in place, the ranges have been overused, pushing cattle off the ranges and leading to the destruction of important habitat for native species.
“States and tribes already successfully manage large quantities of wildlife within their borders,” Stewart said. “If horses and burros were under that same jurisdiction, I’m confident that new ideas and opportunities would be developed to manage the herds more successfully than the federal government.”
This bill would allow states to form cooperative agreements to manage herds that cross over borders, and the federal government would continue to inventory the horses and burros to ensure that the population numbers as prescribed by the 1971 Act are maintained.
“In an era of fiscal crisis, the federal government just doesn’t have the money to manage these programs.”
For the full text of the bill, click here.
The Wild Horse Oversight Act of 2014:
Despite opposition from wild-horse groups, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced Monday a decision to gather and remove excess horses in the Bible Spring Complex of southwestern Utah.
The Cedar City Field Office of the BLM signed the decision authorizing the gathering of about 140 animals from the Blawn Wash Herd Management in July.
That’s just the beginning of management tactics approved to reduce the number of wild horses, now estimated at 755, down to the number that the agency deems appropriate — about 100 horses. The "Bible Spring Complex Gather, Removal and Fertility Treatment Plan" calls for up to four round-ups over a six-to-10-year period. It also authorizes the use of fertility control.
But Deniz Bolbol, communications director for the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, said the BLM shouldn’t be removing any horses.
"It’s unfortunate. More than 35,000 Americans submitted comments opposing this roundup, but the BLM is plowing ahead to appease a handful of ranchers so they can keep having their below-market grazing on our public lands," Bolbol said. "The problem is not excess horses — it’s excess cows."
The group says the BLM horse count is inaccurate and contends the agency is caving to "bullying" by ranchers.
A battle between the counties and the BLM started this spring as ranchers stated there were too many animals sharing a rangeland threatened by drought. The counties threatened to perform a roundup of their own if the BLM did not reduce the numbers of wild horses.
A lawsuit has been filed against the BLM by ranchers demanding wild horses be kept within established limits.
Meanwhile, wild horse advocates are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list wild horses as threatened or endangered, which would trigger protections for herds in 10 Western states.
The Bible Spring Complex comprises four herd management areas — Bible Spring, Blawn Wash, Tilly Creek and Four Mile — located in western Iron and Beaver counties, approximately 30 miles west of Minersville.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune by Brett Prettyman
The four Herd Management Areas that make up the Bible Spring Complex—Bible Spring, Blawn Wash, Tilly Creek and Four Mile—are located in western Iron and Beaver counties, approximately 30 miles west of Minersville, Utah, in the Wah Wah and Indian Peak mountain ranges.
The Bible Spring Complex is comprised of approximately 222,929 acres of public, private and state lands. The gather plan outlines future management of wild horses in the Bible Spring Complex, beginning with gather and removal of approximately 140 animals from the Blawn Wash Herd Management Area in July 2014.
The environmental assessment and decision documents are posted on the BLM-Utah website at: http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro.html.
For additional gather-specific information, please contact Chad Hunter at (435) 865-3088.