Compliance with Iron County ultimatum to remove wild horses sets a dangerous precedent throughout the West.
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. (April 7, 2013) - The Cloud Foundation (TCF), a national wild horse advocacy organization, is shocked at the BLM’s apparent agreement to comply with Iron County Commissioner’s ultimatum: "Remove Wild Horses from Public Lands or we will."" TCF urges BLM to fulfill their legal responsibilities to enforce the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, (the Act). Any roundup and removal of legally protected wild horses from public lands by Iron County is a violation of the Law. Any BLM participation places them in violation as well.
TCF Board Member, Lisa Friday spoke with Iron County Commissioner, David Miller who told her that wild horses have devastated drought stricken public lands. There was no mention by Miller of the ongoing damage to public lands owned by the American people caused by federally subsidized privately owned livestock. Compared to the state’s 3500 wild horses, 108,000 head of privately owned livestock are reported to graze on Utah’s public lands.
And while the Iron County Commissioners say that the wild horse herd management areas (HMA’s) are extremely over-populated, BLM population counts in March 2012 show that only one of the HMA’s, Bible Springs, has a population that would insure their genetic viability (150-200 adult horses). Tilley Creek has 55 horses on 37,000 acres; Bible Springs 290 horses on 56,588 acres; 4 Mile, 71 horses on 61,273 acres. Only 518 wild horses are reported in these HMA’s – not 1200 as reported by Iron County Commissioners.
“Allowing one rogue livestock permittee to dictate BLM actions sets a dangerous precedent not only in Iron County but throughout the West,” said Ginger Kathrens, Founder and Executive Director of TCF. “Livestock grazing on public land is a privilege which BLM has discretion to reduce. Every head of livestock on public lands is subsidized by the American taxpayer and is a privilege not a right. BLM is mandated to protect wild horses and burros. BLM capitulating to a rancher issued ultimatum shows blatant disregard of their duties to protect American wild horses on their designated ranges."
The BLM cannot proceed with a roundup of federally-protected wild horses without fulfilling requirements not only of the Act but also the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which require full disclosure and analysis before any wild horse can be legally removed from designated herd management areas.
However, this morning’s Salt Lake Tribune announcement of an upcoming BLM adoption on May 16-17 which states, “horses gathered as part of an emergency Iron County roundup, if it occurs could be available,” indicates that the BLM may proceed in violation of the very Act they are charged with upholding.
“Rather than lying down to Iron County Commissioners, the BLM should be on the ground in full force as they are in Nevada, to insure that the wild horses are not harmed,” stated Paula Todd King, Communications Director for TCF. “Public lands must be managed not only for federally subsidized privately owned ranchers but for all taxpaying citizens.”