Horse News

A Lone Voice from the Utah Desert: “Save our Wild Horses”

by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“A call for help for the wild horses of Utah”

Private Cattle being moved on Antelope Complex while the BLM was removing wild horses ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Private Cattle being moved on Antelope Complex while the BLM was removing wild horses ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Down and dirty; our Wild Horse Freedom Federation office line received a phone call yesterday that went something like this, “Howdy, my name is ‘John D. Taxpayer’ and I live in Utah where the dang cattlemen and crooked politicians are doing everything in their power to sweep the last of our state’s wild horses right off from the map and no one is listening to me. They need to stop and listen to the rest of us taxpayers who grew up with the horses and love the beauty they bring to our wild lands. Will you call me back, please? Will you listen to me? Can you help me so that I can help the horses? Please!”

The voice was one of an older gentleman, stressed with both frustration and age. The tone and words spoke directly to my heart so I called and I listened.

I felt as if I was listening to a more mature version of myself except this concerned citizen did not depend upon the internet or technology to come to any conclusions on the demise of our national icons; instead he simply depended upon his own eyes for documenting the tragedy that has been playing out before him over the course of his life.

There was a mixture of pain and anguish in his words as he explained how cattle interests controlled county governments, Iron county for example, and how the lure for beef money had made its way all the way up to the capitol where the governor is now pushing to take control of the federal public lands so that he and his cow petting buddies can ensure that any and all forage goes to the bovines and bovines alone.

He vented and I listened, I made no attempt to interrupt, it brought tears to my eyes because this is EXACTLY why we do what we do what we do. The pain must stop, the carnage must cease and these treasures of the range need to be preserved for future generations to enjoy and to appreciate.

When he had finished, I reinforced the fact that we shared his concerns and that we were working as best that we can with the limited resources available to us while being fully aware that the horses and burros are living on borrowed time.  I stated that the numbers used by the cattlemen and politicians were flawed and only used to incite fear and concern in the general public.  We discussed the fact that the cattle and sheep, which degrade the range horribly, out number the horses over 400 to 1.  We compared notes and if we were face to face, we probably would have hugged each other for strength.

He then asked what he could do and I recommended that he share his observations with family, friends, the local press and anyone that would listen to him, even if they thought he was crazy…the word needs to get out.

Then I asked if I could call upon him, from time to time, to check up on both he and the horses and to use him as a “boots on the ground” observer and I heard his voice lift when he said I could.

I hung up with the hair on my arms standing up and a cool sensation blowing across the back of my neck with a bizarre inner feeling that I had just seen a ghost, or rather heard a ghost.

As I sat at my desk and pondered his words it came to me that I was listening to myself perhaps some 10 to 20 years later and I shivered.

I don’t want to be in that much pain at that time in my life; I want to take a rest, reflect and enjoy my equine family. I don’t want to feel like no one is listening to me and that no one cares. I do not want to be in that boat at that time…no way. And the only way to prevent that from happening is to fix the problem now, to turn up the volume and use the energy of other motivated and energized advocates to see this through; we need to stop it.

Let’s make it so.

Below are several stories on the topic that drove this gentleman to call us, we will provide the links so that you can view and read at your own pace. But time is running out for the horses in Utah and we need to move and we need to move fast.

That caller needs to know that he does not stand alone, nor do you.

Keep the faith, my friends!


Utah State Wildlife Board sounds off to BLM over wild horse management

Iron County leaders look for solution to control wild horse population

Iron County leaders look for solution to control wild horse population

Utah ranchers sue BLM, demand removal of wild horses

Faxes pour into Utah Governor’s Office Protesting Anti-Mustang Stand

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25 replies »

  1. Let’s start with the IRS. Who is paying the taxes that are subsidizing the “producers” in Utah? Who is funding the coffers of the County associations, wildlife boards, members of the hunting associations? We know it isn’t the corporate players, because they pay ZERO taxes. Let’s find out. .


  2. By the dust their Mighty Hooves, Are hearts do Heal, by the Strength of their whinnies, do our hearts feel, By the wisps of their hairs do our still hearts still beat, by their wide open eyes, do the blind amoung us see, by the flare of the nostrils, we draw our very breathe, on the back of the Mustang that won our West. The dreams, hope, are heart renew, when you see them running free yet a part of you. From coast to coast together We stand to Fight for their right to Live on our land. Free, strong, mighty, and wild…hope does run within them to inspire anthoner child. A child will grow to woman or man and have the desire to protect the land, thanks to the Mustangs, thanks to God, hope lives on……


      • Me. Hope comes forth when I look at their faces. Since I was a child the Wild Horses inspired me, instilled a love of horses so deep. My grandfather loved the wild horses and it lives on with me.


  3. I’ve been watching the Equine Advocate’s Summit videos. I highly recommend watching those, very good points being brought out about what MORE (if you can imagine) we can do as advocates, especially with regard to keeping the media accountable per Vickery’s talk – ALL very inspirational. And, thank you to Victoria McCullough our great, new Champion of the horses & my new hero. Be sure to watch her talk (video #3) about how she “walked the talk” all the way from her barn into VP Joe Bidens living room, stepping over dog toys along the way (she has a terrific sense of humor !) and then onto the Senate floor. I am anxiously awaiting the release of the rest of the video postings. In the meantime, all this information & brainstorming requires getting 4 feet under me to process it all.
    A great weekend to you all. LM


  4. I have lived in Utah for over 30 years. In all my hiking and camping, I’d never seen a wild horse until last spring. My teen daughter and I went with a family friend who loves to watch the mustangs. We went into Utah’s desert west of Toole and Salt Lake. We were enthralled and moved by seeing the horses. I wrote a blog about it: I went that day not knowing how I felt about keeping the mustangs out in the wild. I ended that day knowing how I feel: I want them there on the land. It’s for what they symbolize and for what they are–beautiful creatures who deserve to live. Thanks for the work you. do. — Cara O’Sullivan, Provo, Utah


    • Cara – Great pictures (your blog) It must have be so wonderful to see 3 bands come in to drink. They sure aren’t scruffy, skinny jugheads which is what is said by the people who call them feral!!! Each of these bands seems to have their own “look” and color. Hope they can continue to live free.


  5. WONDERFUL, R.T. Had to thank you here, too. Thank you for sharing. So heart-wrenching & endearing at the same time. We Must Pass the SAFE Act now, folks! (Safeguard American Food Exports) They’re rounding up more as we speak. Sign & Share & Help Get it Heard on the Floor by Contacting Your State Representatives!


  6. Where are the helicopters and the swat teams?

    Under pressure, Utah BLM fast-tracks plea to round up wild horses

    The Salt Lake Tribune) Iron County Commission Chairman David Miller, left, and Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney discuss the failed attempt to lure wild horses into a water corral on private land northwest of Cedar City, Wed., April 23, 2014. (picture)

    Under pressure from ranchers and southern Utah elected leaders, the Bureau of Land Management’s Utah office is fast-tracking proposed roundups of wild horses on the state’s parched southwestern ranges.

    County commissions in Iron and Beaver County, heeding angry ranchers who have been asked by the BLM to cut their livestock grazing in half, had been threatening to round up the horses themselves in early April.


    The commission, Miller said, has not ruled out euthanizing wild horses it may decide to capture, but that is not the plan.




  7. This is gonna sound bad but here me out for a second. Utah doesn’t want horses. Fine. Let the BLM come in and do what we hate them doing.


    And NO government monies from there on to ANYONE in Utah. No welfare, no medicare, no monies for highways, no Senators. Basically they are there own country. No trade agreements. Our money isn’t recognize by Utah or vice vs.

    We can’t ship trains in or out cause of those non existing trade agreements. So their cattle can rot from within. Too bad about the national parks but the state wanted the land.

    Remember Utah BLM lands. Well BLM is under DOI who oversees the NPS. So the next question really is–is Utah trying for a land grab for the NPS land?


    • Good luck with that. I really do not see having even the smallest voice on these matters anymore. Money does the talking in this country. I don’t have any.


    • Margaret, I suspect a lot of Utahns would like that offer, sadly. Remember the Mormons moved West, past the boundaries of any governments to found their colony and their church in what only later became the state of Utah.


  8. Utah landowners get $9M for sage grouse protection
    Ben Lockhart, The Associated Press
    Apr 30 2014

    Wyoming landowners received nearly $77 million and Utah nearly $9 million in federal funding during the last three years in exchange for conserving more than 1 million acres to protect sage grouse, recently released government figures show.

    Utah has received about $8.8 million in the past three years as part of these efforts to create better habitats for the bird. About 100,000 acres in Utah are affected by the funding, 62,000 of which are in Box Elder County. Wayne and Tooele counties make up most of the additional acreage.


  9. Utah ranchers sue BLM, demand removal of wild horses

    Angered by the amount of money the BLM used to attempt to remove illegal cattle in Nevada, Utah ranchers now demand that over half of the wild horses in their area be removed – the total numbering around 1800. These horses live on the public land provided by law for them. The ranchers claim they are living on their private land. Funny how previously they did not use this claim…before it was just about their rights to have their cattle graze on public land. Anything to rid the area of wild horses. Now a lawsuit. If you were to only read the first half of the article, you would think the numbers of wild horses to far higher. After reading, be sure to comment on the original article as well as ours. Let your voice be heard! ~ HfH
    From: The Salt Lake City Tribune
    By: Kristen Moulton
    (Picture) Rick Egan The Salt Lake Tribune) Iron County rancher Matt Wood, one of the plaintiffs in a new federal lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, talks about the number of wild horses on BLM land where he grazes his cattle northwest of Cedar City

    Thirteen ranchers in southwestern and central Utah are asking a federal judge to order the Bureau of Land Management to control the burgeoning number of wild horses that share the range with their cattle and sheep.
    A lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City names Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, BLM Director Neil Kornze and BLM Utah Director Juan Palma as defendants.

    The ranchers, angry about BLM requests that they slash their herds (or the herds’ time on the range) in half, formed the Western Rangeland Conservation Association this winter, pooling their money to bring the lawsuit. The Utah Farm Bureau Federation along with Iron and Beaver counties also have pledged money to pay for the lawsuit.


    • This sounds like another inside job (as we saw in Wyoming) which encouraged a lawsuit against the BLM to result in a ruling to wipe out horses. The pattern seems identical. The result probably will be too.


  10. So they win and the horses are gone. Who then are they going to blame for the rangeland destruction? For it will get worse without the horses. Those cattle and sheep do not replant the seeds they eat. Horses do.


  11. There is some good news coming from New Mexico about the horses on the Navajo Nation land. Ex-Governor Bill Richardson and actor Robert Redford have worked out a deal with President Shelly of the Navajos with Animal Welfare Institute to protect the horses on the reservation from slaughter. They are going to work out ways to deal with the horses in a humane manner and none of them will be sent to slaughter. This will probably stop the idea of setting up a slaughter plant on any of the reservations. They didn’t go into any detail about what will be done but we will have to take a wait and see attitude on this and see where things go from here.


  12. No you are not alone, but no one cares or listens, I call the white house all the time and those people almost make fun of you while you are talking really gets me up tight, they hurry you alone to get you off the phone and I bet they do not take the messages and give them all the time . We go one step fore ward and 2 or 3 back. The government does not care about the wild horses except to wipe them off the face of the earth. those horses belong on their land and water rights, get the cattle and sheep off the horses land.


  13. Can we get Joe Biden out to see wild horses in the West? He may be running for Prez and might be willing… can anybody pull any strings to get that to happen. Victoria maybe?

    Lets’ make this a midterm then a Presidential election campaign issue!


  14. On looking through some of the links about what is happening in Utah, including that a BLM official is on record saying horses don’t aren’t impacting grazing cattle… maybe something logical here is to segregate all domestic grazing leases from any and al wild horse and burro areas… as designated in 1971. If they are segregated then the impacts can be rightly attributed to the correct species. Logical, easy, and probably impossible?

    Here’s the link and quote:

    The Governor implied that ranchers were being told to reduce grazing due to burgeoning wild horse populations, however, BLM Utah Director clarified that over 90 percent of permittees who were asked to reduce grazing were not impacted in any way by wild horses.


  15. JanWindSong – I agree. Money is the only thing that “talks” to the anti-wild horse and burro people. Some intense financial investigation with factual public exposure of their fraudulent activities needs to be exposed regarding these “crooks”. Remember that the criminal, Al Capone (Chicago’s gangster who “caused” the murder of many many people) went to prison for tax-evasion! Follow the money………

    R.T. – I can feel that gentleman’s anguish and sorrow because I feel it everyday too.


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