Horse News

Utah County Commissioners Back Cattle Ranchers Versus Native Wild Horses

Source: by Tracie Sullivan of

Cow Keepers Can’t Comprehend “Multiple Use” Concept

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat  ~  photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

CEDAR CITY — In a move that was praised by local ranchers, Iron County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to send a letter to the Bureau of Land Management in support of livestock owners who use public lands to graze their cattle.

The commissioners’ letter will be in response to a message the BLM recently sent to ranchers, asking them to reduce the number of livestock they keep on public lands due to an increase in the number of wild horses that now roam on the same land.

The issue is that the estimated populations of wild horses are above the Appropriate Management Level. To resolve the problem, the BLM is requesting ranchers to reduce their livestock by 25 to 50 percent.

Matt Wood, an Iron County resident, told commissioners at the meeting that he has already reduced his livestock from 330 to 200 heads and now is being asked to do away with 100 more.

“If you figure it at $850 a head that I sell them for each year, that’s 100 grand I’m out — again,” Wood said. “That’s as much as some of those BLM workers make a year. I don’t think they’d like it if I demanded they reduce their income by 50 percent.”

BLM officials maintain in their letter to the ranchers that the situation is only going to worsen with the agency’s predicted 2014 budget cuts. The cuts are expected to leave workers scrambling to cover the costs of running the national wild horse and burro program, which is responsible for managing and adopting the horses.

“There currently is no place to put horses removed from the range as wild horse and burro holding facilities are filled to capacity. Although this situation may change, the Cedar City Field Office must plan for no wild horse gathers or removals in FY2014,” Chad Hunter, range and wild horse specialist, states in the letter.

This doesn’t hold well with the commissioners, who say they think the BLM should be held to the same standard as the ranchers.

“It should be reciprocal,” Commissioner Dave Miller said. “If the ranchers have to reduce their number of livestock, so should the BLM have to find a way to reduce the number of horses.”

In 2005, Wood said, 20 horses lived on the land his livestock grazes, but now, there are many more.

“My wife and I counted about 200 horses, so we wrote a letter to the BLM, who wrote us back and told us there was actually 300 horses,” Wood said. “How can that be?”…(CONTINED)

Click (HERE) to read the story in it’s entirety and to comment at The Spectrum

18 replies »

  1. The livestock are destroying the land where they feed…the land that belongs to the horses ! The BLM has removed to many horses and burros from their land and then sold it to the Ranchers for their livestock to destroy ! Too many horses and burros are in holding pens and need to be returned to their land. They should be left alone and the Ranchers need to stay on their own land !


  2. This is CRAP! The Wild Horses have all the rights on the BLM land that
    was set in place under the Wild Horse & Burro act of 1971.

    The whiney cattle ranchers need to have their a@@’s put in check.
    Time for the excess use of our public lands to STOP!


  3. One good piece of information that i picked up from the article is that they must curtail their roundup operations for 2014 because of budget cuts. I’ve been saying to disband the BLM but nobody had listened now that the government is shut down, we can see that we don’t bed them…..GET RID OF ALL THOSE HIGH PAID BUREAUCRATS THAT ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN CATTLE AND ARE THE BASIN OF THE HORSES. WE DON’T NEED THEM.


  4. This IS very simple….you cant lose what you do NOT own. What?????? Screams cattle ranchers, they should Not buy cattle they dont own enough land for. Its like leasing when the landlord says goodbye or reduce herd, you do it. These people whining about a 100,000 loss again this year probably should have invested their money from past sales of cattle and bought feed and leased land elsewhere. This is not the public responsibity for OUR tax dollars to Pay their feed bill to make a profit from Our tax dollars while killing and confining, same as death our wild horses. We The People Are Pissed Off! The County Commisioner can Poke Their Nosy A#=! Elsewhere or cough up money to repay tax dollars to the public fund supporting horses these cows we Pay for Twice or someone better start passing out some free steaks!


    • Great points put in Cynthia…. I am so sick and tired of hearing about their crying over loss of benefits they’ve taken advantage of for too long. It’s not
      the public’s responsibility and our government needs to stop the “STUPID”.

      I don’t understand owing cattle and no land? I was married into a cattle
      ranch family who owned a lot of land. This is about Wannabe’s, Stupid
      and a welfare food stamp cattle program makes me want to PUKE.


  5. Complaining about losing $100,000.00. A lot of Americans don’t even make that much!!!! I’m sick of cattle barons and welfare ranching….. 50 to 1 is the count already — cattle to horses!!! No one wants to go out west to see cattle… We want horses and burros on our lands!!!!


  6. I could care less if you are losing $100 grand!!!! Those horses/burros need to live, too…who cares about your pocketbook….we are destroying America’s wildlife!!! It has to stop!!!! I am appalled at what is happening in the US….we keep building, destroying habitat……STOP!!!!!! LEAVE THE HORSES ALONE….


  7. Am I stupid or does that land belong to the public and isn’t the BLM supposed to be protecting those horses that graze public lands that belong to the public? Have they taken a public poll on who wants horses there and who wants cattle? Does the BLM or the public make money off those horses? Do the Ranchers, not the public or the BLM, make money off the cattle.

    Our taxes go to the government to fund those lands. I myself do not see the justice in letting cattle ranchers use that land for their private gain.

    Whoa! Something seems very wrong here. It’s called Arithmetic.


    • That’s about the size of it and it’s time the Ranchers find their own land to graze and leave the public land to our wild horses, if they can’t work together! Something is terribly wrong here and it’s more than Arithmetic! )-:


  8. Please read! this is maddening! People are trying to rally in protest in Canada as we fight this travesty in America, they EVEN mention they will apply to slaughter cattle within the same plant! And people beware a lot of our meats are coming out of Canada and we should be concerned when these plants are wanting to combine butchery of cross species such as equine and cattle.


  9. Perhaps someone could provide the ranchers with the results of some of the recent studies done by Dr. Dan Rubenstein on grassland productivity. It may be that with more horses and fewer cows that the grasses are more productive after several seasons. Also, if wild horse advocates and BLM staffers could work with the ranchers, they might be able to do some on the range exclusions. The horse pastures on the farm where my horses are are huge. You think 20 or 30 horses sounds like a lot of horses, but when you see the herd you realize that they have plenty of space for foraging, play, and just being horses. Nonetheless, the farm owner excludes certain areas of the pastures for several months or weeks.

    It is time for ranchers, advocates, and local leaders to work together for the good of the horses and the ranchers. Utah is a stste that has been particularly hard hit by the National Park and Natuional Monument land grab issues with the federal government tying up millions of acres of land that the public cannot use now. They are bad feelings about this from people who aren’t even ranchers, particularly since Presdient Clinton had never even been to the area that he withdrew from the public domain. These actions put pressure on everyone.

    Also, remember that the four federal land management agencies have been calling our wild horses non-native, alien, inasive, feral, exotic (plant) pests that trample plants, disturb the soil, and use resources that belong to native wildlife. This language began right after the wild horse and burro protections were passed in 1971, but did not become written policy until President Clinton signed the 1992 UN CBD Article 8 (h). Because they made this very political policy sound scientific, there are probably some old time ranchers that believe it. Better educated, younger ranchers should be more flexible.

    Ranchers and wild horse advocates should be allies. The horses being on the land should held ranchers continue to use the land for grazing as opposed to closing it for wilderness (to keep it from being sold for oil or gas before the UN or World Bank partners are ready to buy it.


    • HH, terrific post! I agree we need to find ways to quit vilifying each other. I am not against ranching (other than the rape-and run variety) and value the small rancher’s values and lifeways, which are a solid part of what made America strong. However, I am not willing to lose our native species, especially wild horses and burros, to support a marginal way of life. We subsidize them significantly, and those grazing leases are figured into the real estate value of ranch property even though they don’t and can’t own the public lands. We pay to subsidize domestic grazing, we pay to “protect” our wild horses and burros, we pay to remove and warehouse them, we pay in loss of habitat and riparian areas, we pay to clean up toxic side effects of oil, gas, mining, and timber extraction, then we pay again at the pump and the grocery.
      This situation is our own creation, albeit considerably influenced but green lining of pockets.

      If we value and want to subsidize small ranching lifestyles, we can find a better way. There is no reason to exterminate the small holders nor is there any good reason to exterminate our native wild horses and burros.

      Consider for a moment if we simply left the WHBs in place, and paid to subsidize ranching domestic livestock in short and long term holding pens. It makes more sense to keep cattle and sheep closer to hand since you have to vaccinate, brand, cull and doctor them regularly before shipping some to the sale barn.

      It seems to me it would cost far less to keep the wild species in the wild, and keep our domestic species in pens (even if we continue to help pay to keep them afloat) than the situation we all know is unsustainable now. There don’t have to be winners and losers here. If we keep the same pot of money in the mix, we can surely do better by rearranging priorities than killing species we achieved federal protection for or putting small ranching concerns out of business. What has to end is the current situation, which isn’t working for anyone very well, and least of all “we, the people.”


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