Wild Horse removals, euthanasia, and claims that the Bureau of Land Management is “dumping horses” were amongst the comments and recommendations at Utah's June 18, 2014 public meeting in Cedar City, which was attended mostly by local ranchers.
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.
Warr had a short presentation where he discussed everything from using the motorized vehicles and helicopters in gathering horses to overall issues with the wild horses.
During his discussion, Warr said Utah currently has more than 4,000 wild horses.
Half of those are located in Iron and Beaver County, according to acting district manager for the Color Country District, Randy Trujillo, who previously said there were 1,500 to 2,000 horses in this area alone.
Other concerns expressed were from Iron County Commissioner Alma Adams, who said he feels the 200 head of horses scheduled roundup in July doesn't solve the problem.
"The answer to this issue and the solution is a political solution. Congress is going to have to act," Adams said. "And that's not going to happen until (Sen.) Harry Reid is out of there. We've got to be able to euthanize horses and spay them. The law says the BLM is charged with managing these horses, but then they pass a law every year when they give them money that says they can't use any government money to euthanize. There are no more places to put these horses. We've got to do something."
When asked about a recent statement issued by the Iron County Commissioners that stated only rounding up 200 horses on a range with more nearly 2000 "is a joke," Warr said he likes to think of it as "progress."
"Every 200 that we remove is 200 more towards our appropriate management level," he said. "We have to look at it like a bureau-wide basis. Unfortunately, we can't just look at Southern Utah . . . if we can get approval for another 200 head, maybe this fall, then that moves us towards that goal of reaching the appropriate management levels."
Following the presentation, those in attendance were asked to leave written comments.
"We generally only get maybe one or two people at these so yeah I think it was a good meeting," he said.
Source: The Spectrum, by Tracie Sullivan
Click Here for BLM's Announcement on its June, 18, 2014 Public Hearing for Use of Motorized Vehicles and Aircraft on Wild Horses