Horse News

Public comments needed on BLM’s plans to roundup wild horses on the Onaqui HMA in Utah

(Photo: BLM)

Public comments are due by Oct. 31 on a BLM Salt Lake City Field Office Scoping Notice for a roundup of wild horses in the Onaqui Herd Management Area in Utah.  Send a personal comment to   and in the subject line, put Onaqui Wild Horse Gather/Population Control and Research

We are sharing this public comment written by our friend, wild horse & burro advocate (and beekeeper) Susan Rudnicki:


BLM—           It has come to my attention that the Utah BLM is considering removing a majority of the Onaqui Mountain wild horse herd—325 horses out of a herd of 450.   This is a reckless gutting of the genetic viability of this herd, a 72% decrease that can not sustain genetic resilience, a authoritative opinion of Dr Gus Cothran, equine geneticist.

   The citation by BLM that the horses are to be removed to preserve sage grouse habitat also is not underpinned by the facts at hand.  The public is well aware of the proposal by the current administration to ACTIVELY REDUCE sage grouse habitat protection, as announced  by  Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke,  who released the recommendations of his sage-grouse “review team”.  A short summary of some of the recommendations does not seem to support the contention by Utah BLM that wild horses are a significant impact to Sage Grouse.  Instead, the list tries to damage the already concocted 5 year planning process that went into the good-faith flexibility of the 2015 Approved Resource Management Plan Amendments (ARMPAs) and test how far the Interior Department can bend the rules without getting sued. Where is the “protection of Sage Grouse”,  as purported to be driving a removal from Onaqui HMA?
   In fact, the BLM plan for wild horse removals is factually contradicted by a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service study released in 2012 that did not cite wild horses as one of the top five threats to sage grouse. Instead, it cites energy development, transmission right of ways, fire, invasive species, and commercial development as the top threats.   Interestingly, these human installations are the very things Zinke has openly committed to smoothing the way for opening on our public lands.  
   The round-up proposed by BLM in Onaqui would seem to be driven instead by industrial considerations, as described in the list below, gleaned from Zinke’s team list.    I am a citizen and taxpayer able to discern when scapegoats, such as the wild horses, are being used for distraction purposes.   
   The Zinke report and the forthcoming processes that will revise the ARMPAs  are determined to weaken any provisions that inhibit industry, including proposals to:
  • Narrow the buffer zones that would protect leks from fossil fuel development disturbance;
  • Remove Sagebrush Focal Area restrictions (“SFA” the most important habitat) for fluid mineral operations, and ultimately consider getting rid of SFA altogether;
  • Train staff to weaken grazing Habitat Objectives so that they are not included as terms and conditions of livestock grazing permits in key grouse habitats;
  • Encourage captive breeding of grouse and increased predator killing – which science has proven don’t work – instead of habitat protection which does; and
  • Create the false impression that livestock grazing is good for sage-grouse habitat, when in fact there is no scientific evidence that even light grazing by domestic livestock is beneficial.
   I am a astute reader and am able to discern conflicts of interest masquerading as cover for “takings”  Sage Grouse AND wild horses are protected and stand to get in the way of industrial development for private profit.
  The removal of the wild horses by BLM in the Onaqui HMA must change,  to focus instead on fertility control. The plan to treat 60 mares in FY2018 is not adequate to slow reproduction. Volunteers with the Wild Horses of America Foundation are ready and able to implement a larger population control program.
   I do not want my taxpayer dollars used on another expensive round-up and stockyard impoundment for wild horses. 
   Finally, per the most recent recommendation of the BLM National Advisory Board, all wild horses in holding are to be slaughtered or sold to foreign countries for slaughter in the next three years.   This is NOT acceptable to the public at large, who are granted by the 

(PUBLIC LAW 92-195)

to be the public which enjoys and oversees the animal’s protection.  Any horses taken in the Onaqui HMA could become caught in this tug of war between Federal agencies.   
I remain a active, informed American taxpayer,
Sincerely, Susan Rudnicki

17 replies »

  1. Another questionable deal in Zinke’s hometown, people he knows read how deceptive the contract is Worded and what’s happened to Puerto Rico. It’s going to be the Holidays soon and they are being treated like dirt by this energy company. Raises questions for everyone. Especially now. ….Zinke issued a statement claiming he didn’t know however, it raises more than eyebrows now. How did this happen in his community? What are the odds they would Even come close to winning this bid?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Please do not kill these beautiful horses who are part of us all. And this wonderful country that many of them lost their lives fighting with and for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so tired of trying to get you people to understand, that everything and everyone is here for a reason. You seem to think you need to irradicate our wild horses in order to keep our environment in place when in fact, all the horses and wolves all play an important part in making and keeping our Eco System working correctly.
    The ideas that they are starving is a lie, and even worse the truth is the cattlemen and oil companies are taking over the property that by law and protection was designated for the wild horses. If our government and government intities keep breaking the laws and screwing up our environment they will be the ruin and END of our world as we know it, its not all about money and power at least not to the people who care and want to keep our land, climate, water and all the earth for all of us to enjoy and keep . Many ecologist, scientist and other educated people have found the true needs to keep our country alive and working but for some reason knowone listens until its too late..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Washimgton don’t want to hear anything from science, haven’t you heard it’s fake news. They just had a protest in front of the White House because they barred 2 world renown scientists from speaking. The White House isn’t the people’s house anymore. Sorry if I stepped on any toes.



    Christopher Ketcham
    February 2014

    The New York Times last year looked into the compromised relationships between federal land managers and industry in Utah, focusing on a BLM district manager named Bill Stringer, who headed the bureau’s Vernal office, in northeastern Utah. According to the paper, Stringer had worked so closely with the energy industry that in 2007 he helped kill a proposed BLM study of the effect of the oil and gas boom on regional air quality. The study was instead conducted by an industry lobby group, the Western Energy Alliance, which found in its 2009 report no “unacceptable effects on human health.” In 2010, the EPA came to a different conclusion: Its own study showed that ozone levels around Vernal were regularly exceeding federal safety standards. Industry memos and meeting minutes dug up by the Times revealed a gloating assessment of the relationship between the bureau and the energy companies. “Achieved our goal of diverting the BLM,” said an internal memorandum, which reported lobbying efforts to “keep Stringer going to bat for industry.” During Stringer’s tenure at Vernal, where he was appointed district manager in 2004, his BLM office became the busiest in the U.S., with the number of producing oil and gas wells more than doubling and the average number of wells approved each year roughly tripling over the previous decade.

    Stan Olmstead, who served 38 years in public service, spent seven years working under Stringer before he retired. “Our elected, appointed, and agency administrators ask us to focus on commodities and economics as opposed to environmental health,” he wrote in a bureau-wide memo he issued when he left the BLM in 2012. “Protection of healthy soils, vegetation, clean air & water and a natural fauna are the true products.”

    The BLM, wrote Olmstead, was “breaking the land,” with “little thought for the future.”

    Liked by 1 person


    The writer Edward Abbey, a radical conservationist and probably the wittiest defender of Utah wilderness, went out of his way in his novels and essays to have fun characterizing the Sagebrush Rebels of the 1970s. He described them as “operatives for the C. of C.”-the Chamber of Commerce-their “hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators,” who “look into red canyons and see only green, stand among flowers snorting at the smell of money, and hear, while thunderstorms rumble over mountains, the fall of a dollar bill on motel carpeting.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Read the article – VERY depressing – hearing about what has been done and is being done to OUR wilderness. Edward Abbey certainly described it far better than I could.
      Makes me wonder – are we the only ones who care?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Maggie, it probably isn’t that people don’t care….they are mostly unaware and the corporately owned media sure doesn’t keep them informed.

        I noticed something with the Salt Lake Tribune, which has run a lot of articles on our WH&B in Utah. I have always commented there but now, my comments are ALL deleted as “spam”. I was curious as to whether the paper had changed hands. It, in fact, did change hands fairly recently.
        BINGO….new owner doesn’t allow any factual information, which is all that I have posted. The comments are filled with arguments rather than genuine discussion and information.


  6. These horses are supposed to protected, why is this continueing to happen. Why take these herd number so low as to threaten them further. Where is the law in this? These are horses loved by the people, the pubic. Please stop the round ups, free the horses that are in holding pens across the west. Please leave them so that our children and grandchildren can enjoy this part of our history! Please stop shipping horses to slaughter houses!!


  7. WHERE did the rest of that LEGALLY designated Wild Horse & Burro Territory…PUBLICALLY OWNED land go?
    To WHO?

    From American Wild Horse Campaign

    Onaqui Herd Management Area: approximately
    207,000 acres of PUBLIB LANDS
    located southwest of Salt Lake City.

    RESTORE HERD AREA TERRITORY to active management status, thereby increasing the size of the Onaqui HMA to the


  8. Up close and personal: Utah’s wild horses draw crowds
    An occasional visitor to mustang territory is Rep. Jason Chaffetz. He sometimes stalks the horses with a camera and has captured several impressive action shots.

    “They’re graceful; they’re beautiful,” Chaffetz said. “But they like to fight, too. And that’s the fun of it.”
    The Onaqui herd has roamed near Dugway Proving Ground for decades with little public notice. But more and more, the horses’ solitude has been challenged by growing numbers of recreationists, gawkers and photo buffs.


  9. UTAH

    Tar-sands oil mining has now come to the U.S.
    By Bobby Magill
    Oct 2, 2015

    Despite long odds as oil prices continue their dip below $50 per barrel, commercial tar-sands mining is coming for the first time to the U.S., where an Alberta company called U.S. Oil Sands has begun producing tar sands from a mine in eastern UTAH.
    “Some of the federal lands containing oil-sands resources are located in national parks, national monuments, wilderness, and wilderness study areas, so those areas would not be developable,” Spinti said. “However, the state has shown significant interest in developing the oil-sands resources on its lands and there are private landowners interested in development as well.”
    If the industry does gain a foothold in the U.S., the climate implications could be significant.
    But U.S. Oil Sands, which did not respond to requests for comment, is moving ahead with production, even as tar-sands producers in Canada struggle to make a profit as crude oil prices fall.
    U.S. Oil Sands, which has acquired the rights to produce tar sands at mines on 50 square miles of land between Salt Lake City and Moab, Utah, plans to produce 2,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of the year, according to documents the company filed with Canadian securities regulators.


  10. US Oil Sands plans another restart in Utah

    Calgary-based US Oil Sands has closed on previously announced US$7.5 million in financing, obtained from its largest shareholder (ACMO) at a 15% annualized interest rate. As part of the company’s refinancing deal, three of its board members have been replaced with ACMO representatives.
    The funds will allow the company to restart its PR Spring demo project early in 2017.

    The company has patented a proprietary extraction process which uses a citrus bio-solvent to extract bitumen from oil sands without the need for tailings ponds. PR Spring is located in the Uinta Basin in northeastern Utah.


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