Horse News

Action Alert: Cattle Rancher Calls for Adoption, Euthanasia, or Slaughter of the Heber Wild Horse Herd

Story by as reported on KNAU Arizona’s Public Radio

“A reader and fellow wild equine advocate brought this story to our attention and we definitely feel that it bears both repeating, here, and action taken upon.  Please review the information at the bottom of the post” ~ R.T.

Larry Gibson is a third-generation rancher in Heber, Arizona. His barn is lined with dozens of haystacks – food for his 900 head of cattle. They also graze in the forest, but in recent years, Gibson says there hasn’t been as much to eat.

Cattle-rancher Larry Gibson (far right) sits inside his barn with fellow eastern Arizona ranchers. They argue the Heber Horses are overgrazing the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests and need to be removed. Credit Aaron Granillo/KNAU

Cattle-rancher Larry Gibson (far right) sits inside his barn with fellow eastern Arizona ranchers. They argue the Heber Horses are overgrazing the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests and need to be removed. Credit Aaron Granillo/KNAU”A lot of these areas, we go and measure the grass before the cows ever get there. There may be 80-percent usage before we ever get there,” Gibson says. “If the horses have eaten the feed, you can’t bring your cattle up.”

In his own lifetime – 57-years – Gibson claims that the wild horse population increase exponentially. He pays the Forest Service about $1,600 a month for grazing rights, and feels he’s not getting his money’s worth. Gibson believes there’s one solution to protect livelihood and land.

“So in my opinion, the best thing to with these up here would be remove every one of them. Whether they go to adoption, or, you know, I hate to say it, euthanized or to a slaughter plant,” Gibson says. “I mean that sounds kind of harsh, but something has to be done with them.”

That’s something horse advocate and photographer Mary Hauser won’t accept.

“I don’t have any problem with these ranchers. They’re making a living.” Hauser says. “But I don’t think that our land should be stripped of our heritage and our wild horses.”

Hauser has been taking pictures of the Heber horses for the past 14-years. On a recent afternoon, she drives to their official territory, established after the Federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. It’s meant to protect them from sale or slaughter.

Hauser believes the horses she sees through her camera lens are related to a herd of Spanish mustangs brought to the Southwest centuries ago.

“Characteristically, they have an almond shaped eye. The shorter back. Their nostrils are thinner as far as the texture and thickness of the skin,” Hauser says. “And that’s all the Spanish look. So that tells me that these horses really are carrying the blood of those Spanish horses.”

Historian Jo Baeza suspects that may have been true at the time the Federal horse act was established.

“In 1540, Francisco Vázquez De Coronado came through the White Mountains with a huge entourage. Thousands of horses,” Baeza says. “I believe that those were the original horses of the Mogollon Rim — the descendants of Coronado’s herd.”…(CONTINUED)

The Rest of the Story

Welfare Rancher Larry Gibson works for the Seibert Cattle Company LLC which has federal lands grazing leases in several states.  Gibson runs Seibert cattle on the Heber Grazing Allotment where many of the Heber wild horses live.  Part of the grazing allotment covers nearly half of the dedicated Heber Wild Horse Territory in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests in Arizona.

Gibson claims the wild horse population has increased exponentially over the years.  However, the last two USFS aerial counts from 2014 and 2015 show the population of the herd in and around the Heber Wild Horse Territory to be approximately 202, which is down over 100 horses from 2005 when a previous wild horse roundup was stopped by a court order.  According to USFS the total 2015 count for the entire 2.7 million acre Apache-Sitgreaves Forests was 320.

The Heber grazing allotment renewal EA coincidentally was just recently released and calls for increasing the amount of cattle to be grazed.  This grazing allotment calls for structural and non-structural improvements costing approximately $4 million dollars without saying how much of that economic burden will be placed on the American tax payer.  Public comments are now open through Friday, June 12, 2015.

Please take a look at the Heber Allotment Draft Environmental Assessment

Please mail your public comments to:

Black Mesa Ranger District
Attn: Chris James
2748 Highway 260
PO Box 968
Overgaard, Arizona 85933

OR you can follow the instructions to email your comments:

US Forest Service
Black Mesa Ranger District
2748 East Highway 260
PO Box 968
Overgaard, Arizona 85933

Attn: Dawnee Burson

Heber Allotment Analysis #43442

Commenting on This Project

Heber Allotment Analysis:

More Information:

The Heber Wild Horse Territory Notice Of Intent (NOI) is soon to be released with public commenting to follow. This will state the Forest Service plans for any Heber wild horse removal.

52 replies »

  1. I think the public needs a good dose of the truth about how many cattle are on the public lands and how much of that cattle is really necessary for our benefit. We need to find and post lots of articles on the amount of these cattle that are pure profit for ranchers in the export business…I think that these guys have America believing that these cattle are here to feed us…and that is just not true…I think it is time for the ranchers to be uncovered for their greed and self serving agenda with our horses as the usual scapegoats…thank you

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right! The fact that he want to euthanize those that have been here forever is insane. How about he takes his business elsewhere. I agree with you that so much of the meat is exported and most people don’t have a clue about it. Do you know if there is a petition out there or should we start one?


    • Just law breaking trolls who are looking for anywhere they can take their huge cattle herds and get away with it!!!Since the poor horses can’t speak they continue to take full advantage of the situation, time to prosecute + also to please BOYCOTT BEEF, put these trolls out of business won’t you all?????

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think if people would look into exactly how much is spent in the government roundups, and “storing” of wild horses they will see we get far less money from grazing cattle ranchers then is spent removing the horses. Let the ranchers earn their way like every other worker. The public owes them nothing, they get more government help then most Americans. Why should they get special rights to our public lands.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Larry Gibson,
    Your opinion regarding what should be done with wild horses is only shared by your welfare- ranching buddies. Your cattle doesn’t belong on public lands, period. You have 900 head of cattle, (outnumbering horses 3 to 1) and a grazing permit. My opinion is If you can’t handle your business without using the horses as scapegoats, find another occupation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, Toni. the BLM counts a cow-calf pair as one (BLM counts 2 as 1). So if the BLM states that 1,000 cattle graze on allotment, it is actually 2,000. And then there are all of the cases where livestock graze outside the dates they’re permitted and areas where they are permitted.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The welfare ranchers continue to declare their sense of entitlement to exclusive use of our public land, expecting our revered wild horse herds to simply get out of their way This arrogant attitude threatens the existence of our wild horses. We the taxpayers don’t have to grant any public land use whatsoever to these people, particularly at the current, ridiculously low grazing fees. Obviously there’s only one way to end these land wars and constant threats to wild horse herds, and that’s to cancel all grazing permits immediately. Let the land which has been heavily damaged by cattle grazing, cattle trampling and gross water use, recover for native species like the wild horses. Wild horses were in America during the Pleistocene era. Horses have federal protection. Why are the cattle on their land?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If a ranch manager/permittee cannot manage his own land and livestock sufficiently enough to provide the lifestyle he wants, then that is proof that he is an incompetent ranch manager and he deserves the results of his deficient management.

    This grazing renewal needs to be stopped – please take a minute or two and let the USFS know. Thank you.

    Click to access 97734_FSPLT3_2465346.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Worth considering here that 900 cows is most likely 900 pregnant cows, or 1800 mouths in the summer grazing season. A decent quality high altitude bred heifer is trading nowadays for around $3,000. Multiply that by 900 and you have a herd (cows only) valued conservatively at $2,700,000.

    The cattle market price is higher now than it has been in years, so calves fed on low-cost public grass are bringing higher profits to ranch businesses but gains to the public (and private lands ranchers who must compete against subsidized grazing) are negligible to nonexistent. Perhaps it’s time to consider imposing an excise tax on meat from animals raised on public grass to balance out the costs to the many for the benefit of the few.


  7. Although certainly not the only animals of concern within the Heber allotment area, the most notable of the threatened or endangered wildlife species known to exist within the ASNF and with high potential to occur within the Heber grazing allotment area are:
    1) The Mexican Gray Wolf, Canis lupus baileyi – one of the most endangered canids in the world.
    2) The Mexican Spotted Owl, Strix occidentalis lucida – Listed as Threatened Species
    3) Narrow Headed Garter Snake, Thamnophis rufipunctatus – Listed as Threatened Species

    The EA fails to adequately assess the likelihood of harm to the above listed endangered or threatened animals if the grazing permit is renewed. This harm to the wild animal could occur by 1) direct physical confrontation or by 2) habitat destruction or by 3) indirect confrontation such as shooting or trapping of the Mexican Grey wolf if the wolf is even suspected of harming young domestic calves. This harm to to the Mexican Grey Wolf could either by caused by the rancher (commonly known as the “shoot, shovel and shut up” method of “management”) or by the Fish and Wildlife service. It is documented that wolves have been destroyed because they were actually or theoretically mistaken as coyotes. This is a chance we cannot afford to take and therefore another reason that the grazing permit must not be renewed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The larger concern regarding the allotment is whether the gray wolf would be a problem for the livestock!!! And as GG says – the shoot, shovel & shut up” method would most likely be the popular one.
      The alternative 1 – no action taken means that literally – the tanks or water sources wouldn’t be maintained either!
      It sounds like the “poor” rancher above is just an employee of a large cattle corporation & all of those 200 wild horses are going to eat more than the 1,800 cattle are. Somehow – that just don’t sound right to me!


      • I meant the larger concern for the BLM!!! My fingers were faster than my brain, I guess.


  8. It’s doubtful that the Public Lands ranchers would have incurred the Public’s wrath had they left our Wild Horses and Burros alone and been willing to be fair and do the right thing.

    Same thing goes for the big hunting organizations that have driven them from their Herd Management Areas, as they did in the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge.

    It’s entirely possible that they have killed the proverbial goose that had provided them with so many golden eggs.

    The Declining Importance of Public Lands Ranching in the West
    Mark N Salvo


  9. The taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for grazing either

    Every public lands livestock permittee is banking on federally-funded range infrastructure like solar wells and fences and benefitting from federally-funded wildlife killing that targets native predators like wolves and coyotes for the sake of livestock safety. Many permittees benefit from drought payments and disaster payments, seek handouts for “restoration projects” that are really just reseeding the forage species their cows stripped in the first place. And most livestock operations occur at the peril of endangered species, whether it’s the Mojave desert tortoise being nutritionally starved or Greater sage-grouse eggs being broken by clumsy hooves. What is the cost of extinction? The American public is woefully uninformed about the entrenchment, expense, and ecological harm of this land use.

    Let’s have that conversation instead. It isn’t about one rancher and his debt to BLM; it’s about all 22,000 public lands permittees and their debt to all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Louie C. I agree that the American public is “woefully uninformed”. I’m studying an American Bar Journal book on the ESA. The BLM has had a laundry list of cases brought against them for either violating the ESA or non-cooperation with other local, state, and federal agencies to adopt appropriate plans. I’ve never been a political person, but, it’s never too late to become informed and involved in the right issues that mean something to yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. if ranchers aren’t getting their moneys worth, QUIT PAYING, GET YOUR CATTLE OFF THE LAND. my cousin raises cattle on his land-no subsidies !! if they don’t have the land to graze them EUTHANIZE THE CATTLE.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whoohoo Mia. So true! They need to quit whining and go buy enough land to sustain their cattle or get out of it all together. Subsidies have created spoiled cattle ranchers.
      Mr. Gibson has more hay between his ears than brains. Go get a real job since you’re so unhappy with your welfare subsidy.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Those are public lands and belong to the public- US. Those horses are ours as well. I am tired of just some people being allowed to use OUR lands to make money for themselves.

    The horses were there first. I prefer the horses to remain and for the ranchers to go buy their OWN fricking land if they want to ranch. I am tired of them profiting from public land while complaining about the feral horses, who were there first.


  12. Too bad Larry!! I would like to lease acreage too. We by do plan solely on public land to feed your cattle. First, the land belongs to all of us. If you don’t like it, let’s get rid if your grazing rights, sounds fair to me. Other post is right, AZ is mostly desert…duh…The cattlemen are something else. My friend and I took a ride to her land in Diamond Bell Ranches West of Tucson. As we approached the area there were signs all over Loose roaming cattle. Guess what was roaming all over her land? You guessed it!!! Several head of cattle were every where. Who paid her for the right to run their cattle on her property? Who could she call, who owned the cattle? The cattle had no visible marks. So too bad for the Welfare Cattle Ranchers. Go buy hay and other feed for your cattle and leave the horses and burros alone?
    I stopped eating red meat years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Let the cattlemen get their own land. God gave us animals to manage. And the BLM isn’t doing so great of a job. They round them up and scare them half to death by helicopter. If the poor things don’t die right off, they beat them with sticks, or pull their tails or just their fists until they do die, or leave them to suffer out in the hot sun without adequate shelter or water. The so called “shelter” they provide is a holding pen not large enough for a single herd let alone the amount of horses they claim they have to remove (dozens!) to keep the equilibrium. There’s no shade and nothing against wind, rain or snow. At least in the wild horses can fend off the elements by standing against a rock face or even a large shrub. As for water? One metal tub of water does not constitute enough water to sustain the horses in these holding pens, and forget trying to adopt these horses out! The BLM has been selling them to the highest bidder, and many have been going to slaughter! Slaughter is not humane and we don’t want our precious animals winding up on some foreigners dinner plate! So, leave the horses where they are and let them be. They’re doing fine. The cattle can eat grain and stock feed from the ranchers. If the ranchers feel the need to let cattle graze on sagebrush, let them buy some acreage and the cattle can eat up that land. I for one am sick of seeing the horses suffer for the almighty dollar.


  14. These wild horses have every right to be there on that land. Just because the rancher is pissed off because he has to pay for grazing rights is his own fault. How about get rid of some of your cattle. Of course you want to get rid of the horses because you think you have more rights. Guess what those wild horses were there before the rancher and that’s where they should stay. Once again the answer is to kill. I am so sick of us wanting to kill everything that gets in our way. Learn to live together it’s as simple as that!!’n

    Liked by 1 person

  15. these are Our horses and I think that it should take a national vote to “do away” with
    them,,,in Texas we ranchers run cattle on our own land and don’t depend on the
    government land in fact the US government doesn’t own the public lands in Texas.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I have an idea: create a law where welfare ranchers wanting to remove wild horses will have to pay for the removal(s) and holding costs with their OWN money, NOT with taxpayers money. The only reason why they’re being greedy is because someone else is picking up the tab for them. I can’t think of any rancher who would want to waste his money on such a thing. Problem solved.


  17. It’s hard to say where they came from. I don’t think there’s any way other than testing the DNA.”

    That’s something the US Forest Service is not proposing at this time.”

    I don’t think DNA testing costs all that much…CAN’T WE FIGURE OUT A WAY TO GET DNA from a few of these horses???
    that would show whether or not these horses have been there for HUNDREDS OF YEARS….from Spanish horses – this seems to be what anti-horse people are hung up on……….

    “How do I go about testing my horse?
    You will need to submit a mane/tail hair sample to us, normally 30-40 hairs complete with root follicles in a zip-lock plastic bag or paper envelope. ”

    Equine Fee Schedule (U.S. Dollars)


  18. $1,600 a month for grazing 900 head of cattle? That’s $1.77 a month for each cow? I think he should shut up and be grateful he’s able to rip off the BLM for such a small amount of money!!Leave the horses alone.


  19. The horses were there first – If you can’t use your own land for your cattle to graze, then don’t have them. It shouldn’t be at the expense of these beautiful animals! They are an American Heritage! How can you even think of them to be slaughtered or euthanized for your own greed!


  20. When the cattle farmers start to pay for the land their cattle is on. Then they can decide what should else should be on that land. Until then they should have to move or reduce their herd. Horses were there first. Stop being greedy!


  21. The grazing rights should be revoked and cattle who destroy the lands need to be changed, the cattlemen are in my blood as are horse and mule breeders but the Spanish mustangs are and should be the protected resources and whether or not pure is not an issue and the tribal lands ponies and horses are also a non issue but the cattle are much more destructive, but DNA studied or protected the AZ and NM stockman in my blood do not make me sympathetic towards the grazing and I know these public lands intimately from my youth when I fished the white mountains and hiked camped and back packed the Gila wilderness areas! The wildlife was my highlights of the visits,particularly remember a larges herd of wild mustangs running through in great numbers and impressing me permanently!


  22. Thank you for standing up for Arizona wild horses. There are less than 500 left in the entire state. Arizona used to have over half a million wild horses, more than any other state. Thousands of historic articles will tell you how they came to their bitter end. How are we going to save these last ones? How can we stop the destruction of this beautiful forest with its great history? They managed to survive centuries of human crudity and barbarism in Arizona. I am afraid that we will be witnessing the extinction of the very last survivors. Please demand that however many cow calf pairs they are going to allow is exactly how many wild horses should be allowed.


  23. One rancher should not have the right to determine what happens to the Heber Wild Horse herd. Especially since they belong on those lands, and the rancher does not. If he has too many cattle to run on his own land, then he needs to think down his herd. The wild horses and burros are there by right of soverinity, and by right of law. The wild horses do not over graze the range – your cattle do. You cannot expect to make a fat profit by pushing these animals off the range. Use your own land.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. These Wild Horses Should Be Left Alone To Roam Free On Their Land. Take The Welfare Cattle And Industries On That Land!



    EA Page 3 “The allotment has been identified as suitable for livestock grazing in the ASNFs Forest Plan and is currently authorized for 5430 Animal Unit Months (AUMs)”
    EA Page 10 “The proposal would include authorization of a range of AUMs with a maximum of 7,600”.

    The ASNF Forest Plan authorizes 5430 AUMs and yet the proposal would go outside the Forest Plan to authorize an additional 2170 AUMS? This proposal to add additional AUMs is outside the rules and regulations and I would like to know the name and title of the person within the USFS/ASNF who believes they are above the law and is promoting unauthorized, illegal AUMs? I require the American public be provided not only the person’s name and title but also what “benefits” this person will be provided if the EA is signed and the additional AUMS provided to the private/corporate permittee? I would also like to know (as it appears at this time from the EA) the extent of this apparent conflict of interest. This AML increase would be in direct conflict with the ASNF’s Forest Plan and in direct conflict with the custodial requirements of the USFS. It appears this is a blatant proposal in favor of the private/corporate domestic livestock producer. I have found no other reasoning for this plan. None.


  26. The horses belong on the land. How about you breed less cows or feed the cows with all the money you make from them. Farmers are only about the bottom dollar and their profits. Stop killing wildlife for profit!


  27. I am sick of these welfare ranchers. They need buy their own land and use THAT for their cattle and stop public grazing. All they ever do is whine, whine, whine, about wild horses. As if their cattle don’t do any damage. It is not impossible to raise cows on your own land. Suck it up and become sustainable. Stop blaming the horses.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. keep your cattle on your own land and quit taking advantage of the forests which belong to me and everyone else in this country…if we want horses there on our land, then they are gonna stay on our land..they belong to me and everyone else in the country…tend to your own cattle…


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