Horse Health

Welfare Ranchers Forced to Scale Back in Elko County NV

Featured in the Elko County Free Press

“Sorry but I live in an agricultural community surrounded by cattle, horses and donkeys and not once have I heard any of them do the whining and hand wringing that the welfare ranchers on OUR public lands do over what they feel is their “entitlement”.  I just don’t have one ounce of sympathy in my soul for them.  Here in Texas we buy, fence, manage and pay taxes on our grazing land and we do NOT take handouts from the government.  Out on our public lands the welfare cattle ravage the range, destroy the watering holes and out number the wild equines 100 to 1.  The numbers in the article, below, are skewed and it is a big bunch of welfare propaganda but it does do my heart good to see the government leeches stress over their free ride.  Sorry, again, but it’s about time that subsidized grazing cease upon a national, natural keepsake, our public lands.” ~ R.T.

“Let the Whining Begin…”

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat  during the Antelope Valley roundup of 2011~  photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Privately owned welfare cattle being herded onto public land and wild horse habitat during the Antelope Valley roundup of 2011~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

ELKO – Cattle grazing will likely be reduced on allotments south of Wells this summer because of an overpopulation of wild horses.

Elko County Commissioner Rex Steninger said he was told by Nevada State Director John Ruhs that the BLM planned to closed several of the allotments.

“Director Ruhs said his agency would be sending letters out Monday notifying the permittees that they needed to schedule meetings with their BLM representatives,” Steninger said.

The Elko BLM office confirmed Monday that letters were being sent to 10 permittees regarding 14 allotments.

The letters are about “starting a conversation regarding utilization objectives on allotments, specifically in areas that are affected by excess wild horse use,” said Greg Deimel, BLM public information officer.

The allotments are located in four herd management areas: Antelope Valley, Maverick-Medicine, Goshute, and Spruce-Pequop.

Elko County Commissioner Demar Dahl said Tim Smith of the state BLM office told him most of the allotments would be completely closed to grazing, but a few of them could be left open with 50 percent reductions in grazing levels.

Deimel said the BLM negotiated last year with ranchers in the area and they agreed to voluntarily reduce grazing by 10,000 AUMs (animal unit months), or about half their normal level.

Grazing conditions are expected to be better this year because of greater precipitation. Deimel said the BLM wants to meet with permittees on the ground in each allotment to evaluate range conditions.

He said there are no current applications in progress for horse gathers in that part of the state.

According to Steninger, Ruhs has submitted requests for horse gathers to ease the problems, but even if those requests were approved, it would be too late for this grazing season. The earliest a horse gather could be organized now would be this fall, he said.

“This is going to be really tough news for the affected ranchers,” Steninger said. “Everyone is already getting ready to turn their cows out on these grazing allotments and to announce the closures now leaves no time to find alternatives.”

Deimel said the agency would be discussing options with ranchers such as using alternative pastures.

He said the has BLM gathered 1,750 horses in the region since 2011 and it is still overpopulated by “thousands” of horses. Getting the numbers down to the minimum authorized level would involve removing approximately 1,000 horses from each of the four herd management areas, he said.

Other permittees might be affected beyond the current allotments now being evaluated, according to Deimel.

“They had to have known what the horse numbers were for months,” said Steninger. “I don’t understand why they waited until now to make the announcement.”

“I’ve worked with Director Ruhs before and he has proven to be a good man. He was very helpful during the disputes over the closed allotments in Lander County. He was a welcome relief over his predecessor,” Steninger added. “I suspect he is following orders from above. This doesn’t sound like something he would do.”

Julie Gleason, a member of the local Resource Advisory Council to the BLM, said the planned closures were news to her.

“We just met with the director last month and nothing was said then,” Gleason said in a press release.

“The only solution is to remove horses from the ranges,” she said, “but every time we get something going, the environmentalists stop us.”

“It is an absolute disgrace that the misguided whims of environmentalists are given precedence over the livelihoods of our ranching families,” Steninger said.

The BLM has had little success at controlling wild horse populations. The most common method has been to round up horses and burros exceeding the congressionally authorized limit of 26,715. Yet, there are now more than 58,000 still on the ranges, according to BLM estimates.

Deimel said their numbers “double every few years.”

16 replies »

  1. Perhaps it’s time to find out if Winecup Gamble would be interested in re-submitting their excellent 2009 proposal for an 8,000 wild horse sanctuary on their million acres of private land (250,000 acres) and BLM leases (750,000 acres). I have no idea if Rex Steninger was on the Commission when they rudely dismissed ranch manager Gary Weisbart, but had they supported the proposal I believe there would have been fewer wild horses in the Elko area and across Nevada in general. And there would certainly have been fewer horses living in expensive feedlots. The Commissioners also missed the boat on what would probably have evolved into a popular tourist destination on one of the last great working ranches of the West. Visitor dollars would have benefited both the local and state economies. That said, Elko seems to be the poster child for Western xenophobia, which likely contributed to the Commission’s opposition.


  2. I keep reading these articles it’s the same old garbage spewed out of their mouths that they ranted about ten years ago. With all the gathers there is no way that the numbers are that high.. I KNOW the gestation period of a horse, donkey and I know that only mares give birth to goals… Dammit why doesn’t someone start REALLY pushing back. Look at what your polite gentle sweet niceness has done to your horses donkeys…. Look at what these welfare recipients have gotten and what you have lost.


  3. I agree with you R.T., My brother-in-law has a dairy farm here in MD. he bought & owns his farm, If he needs to rent land for cattle or crops he pays what the owner of the land wants, no $1.68 here! He also rotates fields, regulates & reports what is put on the land, & has buffers along streams & creeks to prevent run-off to protect the Chesapeake Bay 150 miles away. Farmers should be guardians of the land.

    Paul Harvey’s ” then God created the Farmer”


    • God did not say rancher -GOD SAID THOU SHALT NOT KILL- WHO MADE UP THAT CRAP- Go cruise by Harris ranch- HELL ON EARTH. We need organic vegan victory farms growing healthy non GMO veggies & fruit- NOT CRUEL DAIRY OR CRUEL FACTORY ANIMAL FARMS OR CRUEL CATTLE BREEDERS.


  4. Boo hoo!! The cattle don’t belong there in the first place! If they want grazing land for their cattle let THEM buy their own land. And just why do the tax payers have to absorb the cost ofa helicopter to the tune of $785,000.00 as well as the other added.costs? They need to get a life and move into the new century . I don’t know who is worse the whinning Kill Buyers ot the Welfare Ranchers.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. “Yet, there are now more than 58,000 still on the ranges, according to BLM estimates.” ESTIMATES. This is the 21st century. We can put a man on the moon yet a government-run, taxpayer-funded agency can pretty much only guess how many wild horses and burros are on our public lands? Oh and the “the congressionally authorized limit of 26,715”. Congress is not some sort of scientific agency. With all the things they’ve screwed up, trusting them to come up with a number as to how many of these animals we should have on the range is like trusting a drunkard to fly Air Force One.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. By law, the wild horses and wild burros must be protected for future generations, not destroyed at the command of ranchers who receive tax subsidies and bank loans and government grants to graze their livestock on our public lands. Public lands livestock grazing is a privilege not a right, while protection of wild horses is mandated by federal law. The Taylor Grazing Act provides that the Secretary “is authorized, in his discretion, to classify any lands within a grazing district, which are . . . more valuable or suitable for any other use” than grazing, including use by wild horses or burros. As made clear by the Wild Horse and Burro Act’s implementing regulations, the BLM “may close appropriate areas of the public lands to grazing use by all or a particular kind of livestock . . . if necessary to provide habitat for wild horses or burros, to implement herd management actions, or to protect wild horses or burros from disease, harassment or injury.” 43 C.F.R. § 4710.5(a)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Under the Taylor Grazing Act (“TGA”), 43 U.S.C. §§ 315-315r, the Secretary of the Interior, through the BLM, is “authorized” to issue permits for the grazing of livestock on public lands “upon the payment of reasonable fees.” 43 U.S.C. § 315b. The statute further provides, however, that “the creation of a grazing district or the issuance of a [grazing] permit . . . shall NOT create any right, title, interest, or estate in or to the lands.”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The timing of this announcement seems clearly intended to spark an uproar. We can all agree I think, the system is failing just about everyone, as well as our natural heritage and ecosystems, while only a few reap the gains.

    Right or wrong, though, people with legal grazing permits have calves on the ground fully planning on moving herds out onto summer feed. All those innocent cattle have to eat, too. We can’t invent massive pastures for them in a few short weeks, and it’s a good bet half are this year’s new calves, far from slaughter size or weight. Since we routinely pull wild foals off the range and warehouse them at taxpayer expense, perhaps we need a national removal/ransom system for cattle, too. Maybe a limited-time buyout would help keep people afloat while meeting our other national interests.

    NOBODY has real wild horse population numbers, so whichever species you prefer, you can argue about them to support your position. Permit holders (and evidently some elected officials) don’t question unsupported overpopulation “estimates” but advocates don’t have (and can’t get) any solid numbers, either, and nobody trusts the BLM modeling calculations. What is clear is the BLM has managed at great expense to deliver a massive, expensive management failure for most of our people.

    The solution can’t be to pit us all against each other, a first order answer would be to get real, unbiased, agreed to population counts. Perhaps something like taking helicopters with a citizen pilot, a permit holder, and an advocate (all selected for ability to withstand airsickness) in each could get everyone closer to being on the same page. What a mess, no winners here, just losers.


  9. Is it possible that Public Lands are being cleared off for some reason?
    Is there a back door scheme at work here?
    Barrick Gold Corp, yet another multinational corporation with it’s eye on OUR Public Lands, does NOT have a good environmental track record.

    Gold Mining Company Inks Deal To Save The Sage Grouse
    March 26, 2015

    In Nevada, federal wildlife officials have brokered a landmark conservation deal with a gold mining company that the government says could help protect thousands of acres of critical habitat for the greater sage grouse.

    Under the agreement announced Thursday, the company Barrick Gold Corp., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management are setting up a “conservation bank.” It will essentially work like this: each time the company improves sage grouse habitat on its private ranch lands, it gets a credit in that bank. It can then trade that out for expanding gold mining on federal lands in the state, subject to federal approval.

    You can think of the deal as similar to how private companies sell and trade carbon credits when it comes to curbing greenhouse gas pollution. Except that in Nevada, we’re talking about a multinational gold mining company — Barrick North America — and of course, the sage grouse – a small sage-brush dwelling bird that’s a current “candidate” species for the Endangered Species List.


  10. 《“It is an absolute disgrace that the misguided whims of environmentalists are given precedence over the livelihoods of our ranching families” , Steninger said.》

    I have a solution for that. It’s called Linked-In. There are thousands of careers in the IT sector waiting for you Mr. Steninger! Maybe buy a nice house in the Bay area as well. As somebody else put it already: Get in to 21st century!


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