Utah officials upset with BLM over wild horse removal project

Posted at 10:57 PM, May 21, 2014

SOUTHERN UTAH - Commissioners in Iron and Beaver Counties are getting more and more frustrated with the Bureau of Land Management over the removal of wild horses from public land.

“What they’re trying to do is unacceptable,” said Beaver County commissioner Mark Whitney. “Again, this is about the law.”

Whitney said they stand behind a statement issued earlier this week by Iron County commissioners saying the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to remove 200 horses from the range land trivializes the issue facing several states in the west.

“It’s totally a lame effort,” Whitney said. “It helps that one little area right there, but if they take 200 off today, when’s the next bunch they’re going to take off? By then, it’s already increasing again.”

BLM officials said that specific removal applies to private land, an operation easier to manage and carry out. Several other aspects need to be considered for a wide round up, including an environmental assessment.

Even conservative numbers have the number of wild horses out on the west desert range lands pegged at thousands more than there should be at acceptable levels. Commissioners said it’s reached a point where they can’t stay silent any longer. Those wild populations, they said, are threatening the very existence of this ecosystem.

"The drought we’ve had for the past few years has just made the range conditions unacceptable,” Whitney said. “That’s where we’ve really seen it take a toll.”

BLM officials have told commissioners they’re trying to come up with long terms solutions to save the range land, and drought conditions are one obstacle. But commissioners want fast solutions, and have given the BLM a deadline of July 1. They said if something doesn’t change by then, commissioners will have to consider alternatives.

The BLM is currently seeking public comment on an Environmental assessment for long term horse round up. The comment period ends May 31. More information can be found here.