Horse News

The Quiet War Against Wyoming’s Wild Horses

Andrew Cohen hits another home run in the Atlantic

How can a state promote its wild horses as a tourist attraction while it seeks to decimate herds?

Listen for the sound of hooves pounding. Look for manes flying in the wind. Feel the rush of awe at the sight of these creatures. The Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop Tour is something you and your family will never forget because Sweetwater County's cherished wild horses are living examples of a wide-open landscape and untamed frontier spirit. ~ photo by Jim Urquhart

The Wyoming Tourism Board wants you and your family to come see the wild horses in Sweetwater County, but you better go quick. Beginning next month, federal officials and local contractors will roundup and remove approximately 700 of those horses (about 70 percent of the herd) to satisfy the complaints of the cattle and sheep ranchers in the area who don’t want to share land with federally-protected horses. The “cherished,” “living examples” of Wyoming’s western heritage will be penned in and then given up for adoption or sold at auction. Many will soon die. Some may even be slaughtered for meat. All will likely be gone from view in Sweetwater County. You and your family, having traveled to southwestern Wyoming, may be plum out of luck.

This is my third take on these Wyoming horses in just the past few weeks, and I again beg your indulgence. First, I wrote about a failed federal plan to round up the horses, geld the stallions, and return some back to the herds to decrease natural procreation cycles. When the government was sued in federal court in Washington to stop the removal and castration, the feds backed off and came forward with a new pitch. The horses would leave, but none of the stallions would be castrated. This plan appears to be going forward. I wrote about that, too. The number of horses in two vast “herd management areas,” located in a desolate part of the state, would again dip below 300, making it much less likely that a tourist family would see a wild horse in Sweetwater County.

The reason for my persistence isn’t difficult to explain. Each time I write something about these horses, I learn something more about the politics of their plight that is worth sharing to a broader audience. This time, the story is not just about the hypocrisy evident in Wyoming’s attitude toward these horses — the state is both marketing them as tourist attractions and actively conspiring to get rid of them. It’s also about the curious conduct of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which, again, has done the bidding of an industry that it is supposed to regulate. With friends like the BLM and Wyoming state officials, the horses and their human supporters don’t need any enemies.

The cattle and sheep industries want the horses gone from the rangeland — even though the ranchers reap the benefits of having their herds graze upon public land at low cost. To support their position, the ranchers cite a 1981 consent decree, overseen by a local federal judge, which limits the number of wild horses that are to be left in the Little Colorado and White Mountain herd areas to approximately 300. To the ranchers, the horses are a nuisance, not an asset, a point Wyoming doesn’t happen to mention in its breathless tourism campaigns, which feature television ads of thundering herds.

Meanwhile, the BLM and Wyoming seem more intent on justifying ways to get rid of the horses rather than upon figuring out how to preserve and protect them. Wyoming cites a 2003 agreement between state officials and the Bush-era Department of the Interior, which places legal pressure on the BLM to rid Wyoming of excess wild horses — and the BLM itself gets to determine what constitutes “excess.” These officials say they have history and the law on their side. But the facts seem to support those who support the horses. When you have the law going one way and the facts going another, it’s typically time to go to court. And that’s not the worst thing that could happen here.

Wyoming

Earlier this week, I asked Chuck Coon, Media Relations Manager at the Wyoming Office of Tourism, how he squared the evident contradiction of Wyoming’s policies. How can you be advertising to tourists to come see the wild horses of Sweetwater Country while Wyoming’s lawyers are in federal court endorsing the BLM policy to rid the area of most of its horses? Here is Coon’s response:

As you know, management of wild horse herd sizes in Wyoming is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. No matter what decision is rendered in terms of herd reductions there will remain ample opportunities for visitors to see wild horses in several parts of this state. And we’ll continue to help local tourism entities in the open landscapes where those horses still roam in Sweetwater County, Park County, Carbon County and Big Horn County as part of our overall marketing of the state as a tourism destination.

Coon understandably wants to reassure Wyoming’s tourists that they still have “ample opportunities” to see the horses of Sweetwater County. We’ll see. But the state didn’t merely defer the question to the BLM, as Coon suggests. Instead, Wyoming weighed in heavilyvia litigation on behalf of its ranchers, one of whom, Matt Mead, happens to be the state’s governor. No small wonder. The ranching lobby in Wyoming (and Washington) is powerful. The wild horse lobby is not. When it comes to these horses, might makes right under cover of law.

Through a spokesman, and via email, Gov. Mead dodged the question of how Wyoming could market its wild horses with one hand and decimate its wild horse herds with the other. “The Governor’s approach, which follows the approach of past governors, is to ensure there is balance on the range and right now with the number of wild horses in this herd there is an imbalance.” When pushed, the spokesman wrote: “The State of Wyoming has an interest in defending its consent decree. That agreement allows for horses on the range, but also prevents overpopulation that damages the public lands for other uses, which are equally important for tourism and other industries, like ranching and hunting.”

When the governor’s office uses the word “balance” to describe how Wyoming’s vast range lands ought to be used, what it really means is “imbalance.” Cattle and sheep dominate the Wyoming range when compared to wild horses. And when the governor’s office uses the word “imbalance” to describe the current situation, what it really means is the growing “balance” between and among species when wild animals are left to their own devices. Meanwhile, as you will see below, reasonable people disagree about what constitutes an “overpopulation” of wild horses in or near Sweetwater County.

According to statistics compiled by Jonathan Ratner, of the Western Watersheds Project, one of the plaintiffs who initially filed suit to block the Wyoming removal/castration plan, Wyoming and the BLM currently allocate nine times more forage for livestock than for wild horses in the two herd management areas from which the horses soon will be taken. There are approximately 850,000 acres of public land in those two areas — and the ranchers won’t tolerate more than approximately 300 wild horses there. You do the math. There is plenty of room for all of Wyoming’s four-legged creatures.

The BLM

If Wyoming is not a neutral player here, state actors like Gov. Mead have plenty of company. The BLM, the statutorily-mandated stewards of the horses, also have made clear on which side of the saddle they sit. Even the new plan to remove Wyoming’s wild horses is full of circular logic and unanswered questions. What justifies such a low limit for wild horses on the wide expanses of the two herd management areas? Don’t wild horses affect grazing lands far less than livestock do? Has the federal government asked the ranchers, benefits of so much public land use, to ease off their pursuit of the wild horses?

More than that, now there are now allegations — made by the ranchers themselves — that the Bureau of Land Management actually advised them on how best to maximize their position vis-a-vis the horse groups. The solution? The BLM told the ranchers to sue the federal government (advice, I am sure, that is simply appalling to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, whose Justice Department has to defend those lawsuits). Here are the specific allegations contained in a complaint filed on July 27th by the Rock Springs Grazing Association (the RSGA) which acts on behalf of ranching interests in the area:

69. RSGA also met with Deputy Assistant Secretary Sylvia Baca to deliver its demand that BLM remove all of the wild horses on RSGA lands, to explain its rights under the 1981 order, and to formally request removal of all of the stray wild horses. RSGA also presented a copy of its letter to the U.S. Marshal officially asking for removal of all wild horses that have strayed onto the RSGA lands in light of repeated failure on the part of BLM to manage and control the wild horse numbers.

70. The Assistant Secretary attributed the failure to comply with external influences on the Department and Congress, and the lack of funding due to the need to contract for sanctuaries. The Assistant Secretary stated that litigation would be necessary to secure additional funding for wild horse gathers (my emphasis).

I have asked the BLM to comment upon these allegations, but I don’t expect the Bureau’s lawyers to allow anyone to say anything insightful about the topic. Assuming these allegations are true, they are another black mark upon the Interior Department. Here is a federal official, sworn under at least two federal statutes to guard the welfare of the wild horses, telling ranchers to sue the federal government to prompt quicker political action against the horses. And even if the BLM now backs away from Baca — “she wasn’t authorized to make those representations” — the allegation itself is compelling insight into the atmosphere that surrounds the BLM’s attitude toward these horses. Like the ranchers, the BLM seems to consider them pests and certainly not “cherished” symbols protected by law.

The BLM is part of the Interior Department. The Secretary of the Interior is a man named Ken Salazar and, although his Wikipedia entry strangely is silent on the matter, he is part of a long-time ranching family from Colorado. Salazar’s brother, John, who recently represented Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District (it’s Western Slope), also is a rancher. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), who alone represents Wyoming in the House of Representatives, evidently raised Heifers when she was younger. These are some of the people who are judging the competing interests that clash over the fate of the herds. What chances do you reckon those horses have?

The Facts On The Ground

If Wyoming were the size of Delaware, a battle over what to do with federal land might make more sense. But Wyoming contains vast tracts of land owned by the federal government and, to a lesser extent, by the state. If we were talking about a huge number of wild horses and a relatively small number of sheep and cattle then the dynamic of the argument might differ as well. But the number of sheep and livestock in Wyoming now grazing on public land is far greater, orders of magnitude greater, than the number of wild horses who cross over between public and private land. And if the horses were, indeed, as destructive to the rangelands as the ranchers assert, perhaps the mass expulsions might be justified. But the horses aren’t nearly as destructive as the cattle and sheep who roam the range.

If you don’t believe me, just ask the BLM. The Bureau’s own statistics tell the story of the “imbalance” the government and the ranchers want to maintain. Livestock grazing in the United States is authorized on 157 million acres of BLM land. For wild horses, it is restricted to 26.9 million acres of that land (and, as we have seen, there are limits within the limits). There may be over one million cattle and sheep now grazing public land in many western states. At the same time, there are approximately 38,000 wild horses and burros stuffed into only 11 percent of all BLM land. And even this relatively small figure is too high for the BLM; the feds say only about 26,000 wild horses should remain on public land.

Focusing upon Wyoming alone, the “imbalance” between land uses is pronounced. A 2007 article in the Wyoming Business Report indicated that the Rock Springs Grazing Association alone had between 50,000-70,000 sheep and 5,000 head of cattle on its grazing lands (that figure may be more or less four years later). By contrast, the BLM allows only 2,100 wild horses total in the five herd management areas of interest to the RSGA, a swath of land that encompasses thousands of square miles. But, again, even that relatively small number of horses is too great for the ranchers. While the horse advocates were suing the BLM for being too quick to get rid of the herd, the RSGA was suing the BLM for being too slow to remove the horses.

There are costs incurred by the federal government in allowing ranchers to use public lands (at low costs). From a 2008 Congressional Report on grazing fees:

BLM and the FS typically spend far more managing their grazing programs than they collect in grazing fees. For example, the GAO determined that in FY2004, the agencies spent about $132.5 million on grazing management, comprised of $58.3 million for the BLM and $74.2 million for the FS. These figures include expenditures for direct costs, such as managing permits, as well as indirect costs, such as personnel. The agencies collected $17.5 million, comprised of $11.8 million in BLM receipts and $5.7 million in FS receipts. Receipts for both agencies have been relatively low in recent years, apparently because western drought has contributed to reduced livestock grazing.

Other estimates of the cost of livestock grazing on federal lands are much higher. For instance, a 2002 study by the Center for Biological Diversity estimated the federal cost of an array of BLM, FS, and other agency programs that benefit grazing or compensate for impacts of grazing at roughly $500 million annually. Together with the nonfederal cost, the total cost of livestock grazing could be as high as $1 billion annually, according to the study.

Finally, in just the past few days, questions have arisen about the factual bases for the most commonly-stated reason given for removing the horses — that they mess up the range lands for other users and uses. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, another one of the plaintiffs fighting wild horse removals all over the West, recently commissioned a study from Robert Edwards, a range scientist who worked for 30 years for the BLM before becoming an independent consultant.

With the legal battle joined in Washington over the fate of the herds, the horse advocacy group asked Edwards to go to the two Wyoming range lands in question, check out the horses, and evaluate the impact they have upon the land (and the impact the land has upon them. Here is a link to the Edwards’s August 4th Report. It’s main findings:

All areas observed and/or documented were found to be in only fair grazing range condition, which is typical of what is found on BLM range lands throughout the west.

Removing a large percentage of the wild horses is not likely to result in an improvement of range condition since the percentage of forage allocated to wild horses is very small compared to the amount of forage allocated to livestock (the forage allocation for wild horse use is only 2% to 3% of the total forage allocation for the [two herd management areas].

Information from the BLM indicates that there are well water sources in these HMAs which are turned on and off to accommodate livestock use. If true, this would reduce the number of water sources available for wild horse use in the summer months.

Limiting the number of water sources forces the wild horses to congregate in areas where water is available, and consequently increases the negative impact they are having on the range areas they are using.

There is no emergency situation in the area that would cause significant damage to the range or harm to the wild horses if they are not removed.

The forage resources needed to support the wild horse population are more than adequate and the horses observed are in good condition.

In other words, the land can sustain a much larger number of wild horses than the BLM, Wyoming, or the ranchers have been willing to admit. Not only that, but the land (the water, actually) is evidently being manipulated by ranchers and/or the BLM in a way that is detrimental to the horses (by denying them water and by pushing the herds toward livestock areas, which which gets them in more trouble with the ranchers). Soon, the BLM, Wyoming, and the RSGA will unleash their own experts to discount Edwards’ conclusions. They will likely say that the BLM’s calculations are reasonable, supported by evidence, and that the law is settled by consent decree.

This war is eternal and the horses almost always lose. Even if Edwards’ conclusions don’t hold up in court — federal judges are required by law to give deferences to the findings of administrative agencies like the BLM — they have common sense on their side. Blaming the relatively tiny number of wild horses in Wyoming for tearing up the trail, when there are tens of thousands of sheep and cattle roaming around, is like blaming the lifeboats for the sinking of the Titanic. It was a weak argument even before Edwards’ findings cast doubt upon it.

As I wrote in my first piece on this topic, I recognize that this is a complicated issue; that the ranchers and government officials don’t always wear the black hats in our western tale. There should be reasonable limits on the number of wild horses on public land. What strikes me about this story, however, is how little protection the wild horses of Wyoming really have, despite federal laws and regulations designed to protect them. What jolts me, too, is the strength and ferocity of the political forces arrayed against the horses. There are millions of acres upon which these horses can roam without materially interfering with livestock. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of such room in Sweetwater County alone.

That our government is unwilling to find these horses room — or even consider doing so — contradicts the spirit, if not the letter, of federal law. The governor of Wyoming is a rancher. The Secretary of the Interior is a rancher. The lone member of the House of Representatives grew up around cattle. And today ranching interests are routing the wild horses of Sweetwater County. That’s an angle you won’t see pitched anytime soon by Wyoming’s tourism board. It wants you to come to Wyoming to see all the pretty horses, for sure, but it wants you to remain oblivious to what is being done to those horses, and why, in your name.

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25 replies »

  1. That is a large part of the bias against the wild horses and burros… the politicians who at least condone, if not outright make the law decisions – ARE RANCHERS and they stand to BENEFIT from doing away with the horses. Does this WREAK of “Conflict of Interest” to you?? It sure does to me. It also sounds specifically like HATE CRIMES against the Wild Equine of America’s West.

    Wikipedia: A hate crime is a legal category used to describe bias-motivated violence: “assault, injury, and murder on the basis of certain personal characteristics: different appearance, different color, different nationality (species), different language, different religion.” etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_crime

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    • I have decided that all of the powers that be are corrupt and greedy to the point of rebellion by the common people of the world, like me, how dare you? Is money and greed the way to live your lives and destroy everything that is beautiful in this world. The ranchers that raise cattle have far too much power and the politicians are dishonest and greedy and want more and more silver dollars to line their pockets with the blood of every animal that can be slaughtered either for their meat or their fur and every living thing in the oceans, rivers and lakes.. I was raised in a farming community where it was safe to produce your own food and now with factory farms and GMO’s I do believe that our future generations will die off because of illness brought about by this hunger for bigger and better which results in pollution of the land, water and air. What is natural in this world will be destroyed and I already know what the cost of that will be. I am proud to be an animal activist as I do not condone animal abuse which is brought about by ugly, greedy people that have the control and power…but believe me…your day will come and sooner than you think..I also believe in God and I am not a hypocrite who prays on Sunday and commits injustices towards God’s creatures the rest of the week and I will stand up for my beliefs against all forms of governments.

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  2. There is an subversive culture of paranoia and untruths that are spread about “advocates” from those at the highest levels of the universities and elected office in this country.

    They believe the videos are “doctored.” They believe slaughter is the only answer to the ‘unwanted’ horses. They believe horses damage the environment. It is ingrained and perpetuated even by people who are seen to rescue and rehome mustangs.

    They also believe that photos on the web are old ones that have been used for years and years and that advocates are lying that it is real time.

    This is perpetuated by the vast majority of academics, polititians, and the like.
    The rest of the people don’t even ‘see’ the problem to begin with.

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  3. I think this is one of the best media articles I have read in a long time. Fact after fact after undistributable fact! This guy rates high in my book along with George Knapp. I know there are just some many advocates who write good meaningful articles but to have writers in widely distributed papers or online distributions adds so much to our cause to stop this cruelty against our wild horses. We need more articles like this and we MUST keep up the pressure now as the BLM’s reputation gets more tarnished with every error they make. Throwing babies into trailers and sending wild horses to slaughter and getting caught must now be our rallying cry to put the BLM under. So keep pushing everyone!

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  4. Thanks, R.T. I’ve copied the Atlantic article and plan to email it too various members of the U.S. House and Senate. There’s not much too say except that this is deplorable and speaks loudly against the Obama administration. Gandi said that a civilization can be judged by how it treats its animals. By that standard, we have sunk into savage behavior and crimes against nature.

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  5. Very Very good article and post RT. This is just one of the many that I will tuck away in my brief case when I see my senator next week. I just hope I have enough time to cover all of this information. So sickening, it is just so hard for me to read. But it is something that needs to be communicated to the all Americans and those in other countries. I think in all of the countries around the world, we are the most cruel and corrupt. Like I said before, these people are like a disease that lingers on and on. But when will we come up with the proper perscription to rid ourselves and the horses/burros of these sick people. I just sent another email to the BLM in DC, I’m sure it will not find its way to anyone’s desk that could make a difference. But I will say that I sent it.

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  6. This is just terrible! We first found out about it when we logged into Facebook back in June. We’ve done so much research and its blatantly obvious that the Bureau of Land Management are lying to their own country. I’ve asked a few times whether these horses go to slaughter (am totally against horse slaughter by the way) and each time they assure me they are not. But these horses have been crossing the border for slaughter in Mexico or Canada frequently – and FOALS too. They sell them to the kill-buyers who then ship them to slaughter. They have total disregard to all the rules and regulations and are making a mockery of America’s claim to be a horse loving nation. The destruction of these wonderful horses is unforgivable. We have a letter from The Wyoming Tourist office describing the horses as an ‘incredible natural resource’ but they also state they have absolutely no control over what the BLM does. We said the only way the BLM will stop is if representations are made to the BLM by a body such as themselves because at the moment they appear hell-bent on replacing them with cows and mines – neither of which we, nor anyone we know, would travel to see. We see fit healthy horses taken violently off the range to be imprisoned in ‘holding pens’, which rapidly generate deterioration of health, spirit and fitness. The horses and burros who have had 3 chances of adoption are trucked in appalling conditions to Mexico or Canada – some have no chance at all, they are either run to death, or sent straight to slaughter when they are near the borders.

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  7. This is just terrible! We first found out about it when we logged into Facebook back in June. We’ve done so much research and its blatantly obvious that the Bureau of Land Management are lying to their own country. I’ve asked a few times whether these horses go to slaughter (am totally against horse slaughter by the way) and each time they assure me they are not. But these horses have been crossing the border for slaughter in Mexico or Canada frequently – and FOALS too. They sell them to the kill-buyers who then ship them to slaughter. They have total disregard to all the rules and regulations and are making a mockery of America’s claim to be a horse loving nation. The destruction of these wonderful horses is unforgivable. We have a letter from The Wyoming Tourist office describing the horses as an ‘incredible natural resource’ but they also state they have absolutely no control over what the BLM does. We said the only way the BLM will stop is if representations are made to the BLM by a body such as themselves because at the moment they appear hell-bent on replacing them with cows and mines – neither of which we, nor anyone we know, would travel to see. We see fit healthy horses taken violently off the range to be imprisoned in ‘holding pens’, which rapidly generate deterioration of health, spirit and fitness. The horses and burros who have had 3 chances of adoption are trucked in appalling conditions to Mexico or Canada – some have no chance at all, they are either run to death, or sent straight to slaughter when they are near the borders.

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    • If you go to the BLM facebook page time and time again the PR Person says they do not sell to slaughter. They get around that by placing the animals on private lands and then don’t keep count. They will say they knew nothing about the 47 found on their way to slaughter a week ago. They may not sell directly to slaughter but they sure know who they are selling to will take them to slaughter. They know, they know no matter what they say.Lets hope that the FBI stands strong and does not cover up this horrible event. We must keep a watch on this issue.

      I too got the same letter from the WY Tourism Group. They are just liars too, just like the BLM. I will never go to WY for anything until they stop killing off horses, wild and our pets.

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  8. The BLM’s most recent Wyoming Oil & Gas Lease Sale netted $42 million – an all-time record. Half of that will go to the state, and there are many more to come – usually one every month or two. Wyoming has received the most money from O&G lease sales over the last several years. Southwest Wyoming is home to the Northern boundary of the Green River Formation. Green River has huge potential for O&G, now that fracking has become the “New Normal” for extraction.

    Here’s a map which shows the areas with the HIGHEST potential for extraction. Just match it up with the HMAs, and draw your own conclustions. (Sorry about the size of this URL!)

    http://ostseis.anl.gov/includes/dsp_photozoom.cfm?imgname=OSTS%5FMap1%2D600%2Egif&caption=Location%20of%20the%20Green%20River%20Formation%20Oil%20Shale%20and%20Its%20Main%20Basins&callingpage=%2Fguide%2Foilshale%2Findex%2Ecfm&callingttl=About%20Oil%20Shale&source=Source%3A%20RAND%20Corporation%2C%20adapted%20from%20Smith%2C%20J%2E%20W%2E%2C%20%26quot%3BOil%20Shale%20Resources%20of%20the%20United%20States%2C%26quot%3B%20Mineral%20and%20Energy%20Resources%2C%20Vol%2E%2023%2C%20No%2E%206%2C%20Colorado%20School%20of%20Mines%2C%201980%2E

    A lot of this activity will undoubtedly take place on “checkerboards” – where BLM Sections abutt privately-owned Sections, so dollars will also accrue to individual ranchers for mineral rights, rights-of-way, and enormous amounts of water to service fracking wells.

    Now Wyoming ranchers, who once cooperated with the BLM on wild horse access, want wild horses gone from their private lands. The majority Wyoming HMA “checkerboards” are in concentrated areas, but there are many others scattered within EVERY HMA throughout the state. Here’s an approximation of the “checkerboard” land component in a few Wyoming HMAS: Salt Wells: 2/3; White Mountain: 2/3; Divide Basin: 1/2; Little Colorado: 1/8; Adobe Town: 1/8.

    Conservationists, environmentalists, and recreationalists of all types (incuding hunters) are furious about what the BLM and the state are doing to Wyoming, and some are organizing to legally oppose it. Ironically, it’s been one of the states with the fewest fiscal problems, because of huge natural resource extraction and potential, and one where the BLM and the state are facilitating special interests’ raping irreplaceable lands for the same reason.

    Money talks!!!

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  9. I’ve seen those reports too and think you are right. But why is non of this in the news? Why do the people of WY not realize that this is a short term wealth and soon WY will be out of resources, clean drinking water, wildlife and wild horses. How can people be so in the moment and too stupid to think about the future? And the American people are letting this BLM get away with all this lying. I’m just glad I don’t live in a place like that. As a person who lives near a large city and is surrounded by people everywhere I would be so sad to see such beauty be trashed in this way. I don’t know how people can not appreciate the beauty they are so fortunate to be surrounded by. I for one would love to switch places with them. I would love to look out my window and see wild horses running free enjoying their freedom.

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  10. Wyoming, particularly Jackson Hole, is a popular destination for high end convention groups. Many groups travel here annually for their conventions, in-service educational training for required CEU’s, etc. This is where the big money from tourism comes from and losing even one large, well-paying group can have big consequences for an economy based on tourism. So maybe sharing this article about this duplicitous state government could hit them in the pocket, where it hurts.

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  11. http://goldismoney2.com/showthread.php?7367-Big-Federal-Land-Grab-BLM-document-reveals-big-change-in-federal-land-management

    Big Federal Land Grab? BLM document reveals big change in federal land management
    BLM document reveals big change in federal land management
    August 5th, 2010 @ 6:00pm
    By Sarah Dallof
    SALT LAKE CITY — KSL 5 News has obtained a document that outlines a huge change in how the federal government wants to manage federal land in Utah, and one Utah congressman says it makes him furious.

    Congressman Rob Bishop’s office also recently received the document. Bishop said he’s angry because it would put virtually all land management power in the hands of the White House.

    “Of the 264 million acres under BLM management, some 130- to 140-million acres are worthy of consideration as treasured lands. These areas [are] roughly equivalent in size to Colorado and Wyoming combined.” -BLM’s Treasured Lanscapes paper

    A portion of the document was leaked back in February and led to speculation about a federal land grab in Utah. It talked about the creation of a 12 new national monuments

    Now, an outside source provided KSL with the entire document, and it does suggest a dramatically new philosophy for managing federal land.

    The Bureau of Land Management’s document is stamped with “Internal Draft. Not for release.” Titled “Treasured Landscapes,” it lays out what some consider a sweeping and detailed plan for the next 25 years.

    It took Bishop months to get the document, which lays out the context for the snippets released a few months ago.

    “They have clearly been dragging their feet, and they don’t want to let us know what they’re trying to do,” Bishop says.

    He is especially concerned about portions of the document that recommend using the Antiquities Act “should the legislative process not prove fruitful.” The act gives the president power to designate a national monument with no public or legislative input.
    The U.S. Department of the Interior released a statement Thursday that reads, in part: “The preliminary internal discussion draft reflects some brainstorming discussions within BLM, but no decisions have been made about which areas, if any, might merit more serious review and consideration.” [CLICK HERE to read the entire statement]

    “Their brainstorming session was how to do this without engaging Congress, without having to go to Congress for approval,” Bishop said.

    There are those who support what is a radical new departure in land management — the idea of protecting whole ecosystems instead of just individual parcels.

    Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, says the vision within the pages is urgently needed. “I’d like to see some real planning developed out of it,” Robinson said. “It obviously is a brainstorming kind of thing thing, but you have to do that before you take intelligent action.”

    http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=11872071

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  12. Ginger, can you post your link and information on the ATLANTIC? I believe the people who read that publication need to see it.

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    • Louie, since I haven’t been able to find a way to contact Mr. Cohen directly, I’m going to do as you suggested. Great comments to this article from so many people, including you!

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  13. Yes that’s exactly what we think. If they did anything like that here in England (UK) they’d be put in prison. Its all total lies from the BLM – they’re making a mockery of America as a horse-loving nation. We are writing and e-mailing congress – all we get from the blm are lies…….the world needs to know about this to put pressure on congress..

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  14. Dear Andrew Cohen, Using the BLM figures on wild horses and burros still in the wild on BLM/public lands is self defeating. BLM has most certainly already dipped below the 26,000 they imply is the right number to allow. The thing is, that was never the ‘right’ number to begin with!!

    Since there are likely well below 20,000 wild horses still on designated ranges it is way past time to end these expensive, violently deadly removals and the perpetuation of long term holding incarcerations.

    No studies, no science, no record keeping is done by BLM on the wild herds. What a waste! It would be a delight to wild horse lovers to help keep track of these wonderful horses and burros who GRACE our public lands. Making decisions with out any solid data seems to be way out of line to me. 40 years of a program that was never set up right, and has been used in ways we are still uncovering, seems time to stop the machine and take stock of what is really happening and why.

    Moratorium; 10 years to do it right and without BLM!

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  15. Wouldn’t it be a miracle if Mr. Cohen could make some suggestions (NOT legal advice ;)) to those advocates that are in the legal/law suit trenches?

    Still think the gelding/spay lawsuit should have gone forward; also think a lawsuit should be filed against the kay-rap grazing association that sued in the past (won) and is suing the BLM again…..bring it on!

    AND THE CHANGES TO THE 1971 ACT SHOULD HAVE BEEN LEGALLY CHALLENGED AT THE VERY START AS THE CHANGES VIOLATE THE SPIRIT OF THE ACT! Yeah, I know…..learning curve thing and it takes time to figure out how rotten things are.

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  16. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–I personally spent over 13 hours on this loop and didn’t see one horse. I was out fair yearly in the morning, came back late afternoon early evening. The loop takes me 4 hours to drive in my little car. I went back the second day mid morning to mid afternoon. I looked and looked–nada. Not a thing.

    Saw some older horse poop but nothing fresh. Saw two very small water holes–that looked way down dorm the first night to that second day.

    Something else off the subject but still important. BLM’s office in Rock Springs WASTES a ton of water every time you flush. One cycle of water going thru (what you consider a normal flush)is equal to 4normal flushes. So is part of a drought situation (maybe not this year)manmade?

    At least BLM isn’t going to geld the studs they turn back out but if history is any indication those horses won’t ever be turned back out or very few. A lot fewer than what they say they will turn back out.

    Also while there isn’t any apparent snow on the loop up north in Jackson the mountains were covered when I was there. And it also looked like there was snow up in the Wind River range.

    During my travels I rarely saws patch of brown. This includes NV which usually is brown this time of year. All of NV is green (and also on the mountain tops north of Antelope on I 80 the mountains were covered in snow still), Idaho is green and so is WY. Mostly the only places that weren’t were covered in white. 3rd week in July and LOTS of snow.

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  17. The government needs to leave the horses alone. Every time they back off they come back with a new plan to get rid of the horses. There is enough space for the horses, the cattle and the sheep.

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  18. Well, I guess the assault has begun in earnest! This was just shared on Facebook by Shari Welsh about an hour ago:

    “BREAKING NEWS – Laura Wise. Today The BLM is rounding up mustangs in Barrel Oil Wyoming about 30 miles from me. They had about 100 rounded up so far. They ran these mustangs about 20 miles HARD. There were no BLM management there just the contractors. Im not for sure who they are just that they are from Nevada. They had 3 helicopters there. Could you spread the word?”

    I think “Barrel Oil” is probably “Bairoil”, on the “checkerboard”.

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  19. That’s a lot of what’s wrong all over this Country! The people we elect to run this Country on our behalf are self motivated and only interested in there on personal gain. We should elect all new people who work for the betterment of the people and the Country. Leave the horses alone and leave alone the things of nature. They don’t belong to us. They like us belong to God!

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