Statement in Response to BLM’s Capture of Wild Horses in Southern Utah

Salt Lake City, UT (May 6, 2014) … In response to news that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had captured and removed eight wild horses from public lands in southwestern Utah, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), a national coalition of more than 60 organizations, issued the following statement:

“It is unfortunate that the BLM is caving to pressure from ranchers in southwestern Utah and rounding up wild horses from public lands there. The preservation of wild horses on our western public lands is strongly supported by the American public while livestock grazing on public lands is not.

We call on the BLM and the state of Utah to exert leadership to resolve the conflicts with ranchers who view wild horses as competition for cheap grazing on public lands. This is a solve-able issue. Wild horses range on just one-tenth of the BLM land available for livestock grazing in Utah. There are 3,000 wild horses in the state – that’s one horse per more than 700 acres of land.

In the Bible Springs Complex, which is at issue in Iron County, the wild horse population estimates appear to be wildly exaggerated. BLM’s projected population of 777 wild horses is a 41 percent increase over the agency’s 2013 estimates, something that is biologically impossible and contradicted by the BLM’s own claims that range conditions are deteriorating to the point that horses have died as a result. Even if true, a population of one horse per 229 acres cannot be considered overpopulation, particularly when twice as many livestock are still authorized to graze on the same public lands.

The solutions to the wild horse challenge are at hand, yet BLM continues to ignore them. The National Academy of Sciences warned that BLM’s practice of removing large numbers of wild horses from the range was fueling higher population growth and that ‘continuation of business as usual practices will be expensive and unproductive for the BLM and the public it serves.’ The prestigious scientific body was clear that available birth control is a more affordable option than continuing to remove horses to long-term holding facilities. Yet the agency is capitulating to radical ranchers by proposing to remove more horses from the range and failing to use birth control as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. This just continues the same broken approach to wild horse management that is costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually and robbing our iconic wild horses of their families, their freedom and their lives.”

More information:

The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC) is a coalition of more than 60 horse advocacy, public interest, and conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the American wild horse in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage. AWHPC’s founding organization is Return to Freedom (RTF), a national non-profit dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education and conservation, and also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary in Lompoc, CA.

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