Another standoff between federal officials and rural rangers has the potential to escalate in Utah, just one state away from where a similar dispute recently propelled a disagreement there, which involves a Nevada cattle rancher, who didn't pay his grazing fees.
Recently, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has determined that there should be no more than 300 wild horses grazing in a chunk of southern Utah’s Iron County, Reuters reported over the weekend.
The estimated numbers that federal officials believe are out there is closer to 2,000 horses. Now as the feds attempt to figure out how to get their hands on the animals in order to literally thin the heard, wild horse preservation groups are stepping up and speaking out.
Officials with the both the BLM and Iron County are attempting to round up the wild horses that roam freely in federally-designated herd management zones, but advocates say such an operation is against the law.
However, the local and federal government have stated that with that many horses grazing the area, the land is becoming barren.
"There's been no management of the animals and they keep reproducing," County Commissioner David Miller told Reuters recently. "The rangeland just can't sustain it."
"We're going to see those horses starving to death out on the range," he added. "The humane thing is to get this going now." In an effort to avoid this happening to wild horses, the BLM is setting up corrals to hold wild horses until they can be moved and put up for adoption.
"The BLM is actively working with Iron County to address the horse issue," Utah-based BLM spokeswoman Megan Crandall acknowledged to Reuters.
But in reality, it is the livestock ranchers who need that land for their animals to graze, and horses that consume food on these lands don't bring them an income.
Animal rights groups have seen too many horses rounded up, and sent to slaughter. When the BLM rounds them up they use helicopters and large vehicles and a big percentage of them die in the roundup due to exhaustion and lack of food or water, especially the foals who cannot tolerate such extreme measures, or who get separated from their nursing mothers.
From the "American Wild Horse Preservation" website:
Injuries, abortions, trauma and death are the common results of wild horse round-ups (or “gathers,” to use a placating euphemism). Read Wild Horses the Stress of Captivity, a report by Dr. Bruce Nock. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) claims a mortality rate of 0.5% in connection with captures. The agency is able to claim such a low mortality rate because it attributes to natural causes most injuries/deaths sustained during round-ups (e.g., Paymaster, NV, 2006: although 21 horses were euthanized on site, BLM claimed a zero mortality rate for the round-up).
And attorney's representing wild horse preservation groups say it’s illegal for the government to try and control the population of the animals on public land without first following certain rules.
"The BLM must stop caving to the private financial interests of livestock owners whenever they complain about the protected wild horses using limited resources that are available on such lands," lawyer Katherine Meyer of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal claimed.
Thankfully there are groups such as the American Wild Horse Preservation for our equine friends, or the wild horse population would devastatingly plummet.
Image via Wikimedia Commons