Range war: County resolves to solve wild horse problem if BLM prioritizes Bundy cattle

IRON COUNTY – Earlier this week Iron County Commission sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management regarding the agency’s activity in Clark County, Nev., versus its apparent lack thereof in Iron County concerning an ongoing problem of feral horses and burros within the county.

Addressed to Neil Kornze, the BLM’s principal deputy director, and Amy Lueders, the BLM Nevada state director, the letter begins: “Please be advised that the decision of the BLM in Clark County Nevada to force trespass on private citizens has triggered our interest in Iron County, Utah and has spillover ramifications.”

In the letter, the County Commission states the BLM is spending around $2 million to impound the cattle of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, while at the same time saying it has no money to deal with the feral horse issue.

From Iron County Commission’s perspective, the BLM has its priorities skewed.

“The decision of the BLM to allocate funding approaching or surpassing $2 million dollars to gather private cattle owned in Clark County Nevada while the agency refuses to respond to the requests by Iron County to abide by its own laws and policies … is unacceptable. Why do you have money to deal with non-compliance as in the case of Mr. Cliven Bundy, but no funds to keep yourself in compliance?

The Iron County Commission’s letter requests the BLM turn its focus from Bundy’s cattle to deal with the ongoing problem of feral horses and burros in Iron County instead. The feral herds are destroying rangeland, according to the letter, and it is the BLM’s responsibility to see that herd numbers are kept to appropriate, manageable levels. However, the BLM has not kept up with the management of the feral horse herds, the Iron County Commission said. Repeated requests for the BLM to deal with the feral horse issue have been either denied or ignored with an attached explanation the federal agency doesn’t have the funding it needs to address the problem, the letter said. 

“The actions and expenditures in Clark County, Nev., prove otherwise,” the County Commission wrote.

Iron County ranchers, who are being pushed to reduce their own grazing allotments by 50 percent, are having to compete with the feral horses for forage. The County Commission called the feral horses “an imminent threat” to wildlife and livestock, especially since they are competing for range in a time of continued drought.

So the county commission issued an ultimatum to the BLM: Either the agency begin to bring feral horse numbers into compliance with its own policies, or the county will.

This is not a threat. This is a plan of action,” the commission said in the letter.

The BLM has until 12 p.m., Friday to respond to Iron County Commission.

“If the agency’s decision to expend further resources to gather a private U.S. citizen’s cattle take precedent in lieu of our request,” the letter reads, “it will be understood that your de facto response to Iron County is one of non-priority and that you have no intent to deal with the adverse threat in Iron County in a timely manner.”

The letter to the BLM was signed by Iron County Commission David Miller and Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower.

Concerning budget issues, the BLM rolled out its overall funding priorities Friday morning. Fertility control for wild horses and burros was on the list for the 2015 fiscal year.

“The budget calls for an increase of $2.8 million for the Wild Horse and Burro program that would allow the BLM to continue multi-year studies focused on the development of more effective and longer-lasting fertility control agents and techniques,” The BLM said in a statement.  “It would also further the BLM’s implementation of the National Academy of Sciences recommendations made in 2013.”

On Thursday, the Washington County Commission held an emergency meeting concerning the gathering of Bundy’s cattle. It passed a resolution against the transport and sale of the cattle across state lines into Utah, citing the cattle may not have been properly immunized and could contaminate other cattle within the state.

Grazing rights on public land in Clark County. Nev., have either been reduced or closed in the last 20 years in order to secure and preserve habitat for the desert tortoise. However, Bundy chose to ignore BLM regulations and has declared the agency unconstitutional, citing a states rights versus federal overreach argument. Now, after 20 years of back-and-forth between Bundy and the BLM, it and other federal agencies are moving in to physically remove his cattle.


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  • Bender April 4, 2014 at 11:58 am

    While I don’t agree with their assessment of the Bundy situation I fully understand the Iron County Commission’s frustration. BLM inaction on wild horses, and mules, is inexcusable. This situation seems like a time where ranching interests, hunting interests and non-motorized outdoor recreational interests could align to to pressure Department of Interior to act. Wild horse enthusiasts are a passionate group whose influence far exceeds their small numbers. This is another case, just like ranching, where romanticism clouds people’s good judgement. Round ’em up and send them to the glue factory.

    • GPM April 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      I agree that the wild horse population on Federal lands needs to be reduced. Horses, like cows are not native to the arid West and both species can easily damage the land. The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 came about because of over-grazing and the damage to the range and fragile soils. Taxpayers have spent millions, perhaps billions of dollars on various projects that benefit the range and related resources, and by extension the cattle ranchers. “Improvement” results has been the elimination of large areas of sage grouse habitat and now taxpayers are spending millions of dollars to keep sage grouse from being listed via the Endangered Species Act. These efforts are of direct benefit to those grazing cattle on public lands. True, wild horse lovers have “influence far exceeding their small numbers.” Is this any different than the livestock industry keeping grazing fees on public land well below the grazing fees on private land?

      • Jennifer April 5, 2014 at 9:12 pm

        Hello GPM, I’m curious as to where you are getting all of your information. Do you understand that when an species is federally protected the numbers they consider for those species are only counted if they are on FEDERAL land. It doesn’t matter how many of those animals are on private or state land. So the Sage Grouse that you are referring to are not listed for a reason…they are not endangered. That seems logical enough. How much do you really know about what it costs to own a grazing right? Do you know that most ranchers pay thousands of dollars every year for their grazing rights, plus have to pay a separate AUM fee per head of cattle.

      • Rainbowruth April 6, 2014 at 3:08 pm

        Why can’t the BLM be I charge of the removal illegal aliens? The federal government focus millions of dollars and hours to the removal of trespassing cows and horses but ignore the trespassing of illegals. Go figure. They spend millions to protect a few thousand turtles but ignore the murder of thousands of unborn children daily. Crazy stuff…

    • Lgrayson April 6, 2014 at 12:21 am

      Ever heard of the “KISS” Principle? Keep It Simple, Stupid. Fact: 1971 federal law protects and allows horses and burros to roam on public land. Fact: Only the federal government can agree to allow privately owned livestock on public land. Fact: the federal government can order the removal of private livestock from public land at any time. End the vigilante logic – you all sound like fools threatening the BLM.

      • do some research befor you run your mouth April 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm

        fact all you said is bs not fact a corporation can not decide it owns anything yet alone enforce its corporate policy on the ppl fact its not our federal government it is a foreign corporation it is not allowed to own any land on this land and that is law we the ppl do not nor have we ever had a blm it is a foriegn corporation and foriegn bankers wet dream to steal this land from us

  • Gse April 4, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Good job iron county, I am impressed!

  • JLrocks April 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Really this jerk thinks he can feed his owned animals for free?
    Those horses are protected under the federal law not those cows.
    Remove all ranchers who don’t pay their fees.
    From what I heard the county cannot remove the horses only BLM so that threat is empty.
    I personally would rather pay for the horses than privately owned cows/horses to have that land. If the ranchers can afford to buy those cows they can afford to purchase land for them

    • animallover April 5, 2014 at 10:47 am

      ranchers owe the rights to the land, they paid for the rights then pay grazing fees, ranching is hard work and pays little we are not rich. most of the water the horse drink are because of the rancher drilling the well using their water rights they paid for and pumping the water to the surface which cost money. horses die a horrible death when they cant find water. we work hard to care for the land our cows graze on, Why would you pay for the horses to over populate , inbreed and suffer with no feed or water.

    • Jennifer April 5, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      For free? Ha! You obviously know nothing about what it takes to maintain the land to keep it prosperous, and therefore, have cannot give an accurate comment. Read some studies, research individual rights and laws, and try not to judge someone simply by what you are hearing from someone else. Find out the facts first. This guy is not a “jerk”, he is a good, hard-working, god-fearing, family man who is simply trying to stand up for his individual rights and to try to get everyone else to do the same for themselves. He is trying to show how out of control our government is.

  • tinman April 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    BLM is just another Federal agency ruled by liberal logic (i.e., the lack thereof). Kudos to Iron County for exposing the liberal hypocrisy of Do as we say, not as we do!

  • Me April 4, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Way to take a stand Iron–though the Feds will probably not even reply.

    • Lgrayson April 6, 2014 at 12:24 am

      Oh they may, with felony charges, if anyone harms the protected horses and burros.

  • Joanne Wade April 5, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    There needs to be more open transparency regarding BLM’s management of America’s Wild Horses!
    There are more Wild Horses held in captivity in BLM’s holding facilities without proper shelter from Sun, Wind, Snow or Rain, especially during severe Winter Weather Conditions at Rock Springs, Wyoming’s site. The non profit Wild Horse Advocates from Colorado, “The Cloud Foundation”, offered free light weight paneling and free labor by volunteers to help shelter those suffering Wild Horses from severe Winter Winds. BLM refused this offer from the ” Cloud Foundation”. This is abuse and inhumane for those Wild Horses! Why is the BLM not being held for their same standards when adopting a Mustang? An adoptee of a Mustang from the BLM, must provide adequate shelter and provide proof that the adopted Mustang/s will receive responsible living conditions for Horse ownership! Also, adequate vetinary care included!
    Recently the BLM removed the entire herd of Wild Horses at the Prior Mountains, Wyoming’s location where these Wild Horses lived for 40 years! All were sent to a Canadian Slaughterhouse recently during March 15th, 2014. The Cloud Foundation, fortunately adopted 4 foals from the exterminated Wild Horses of Prior Mountains, Wyoming! The BLM does not count a Wild Horse that is 6 months or younger in the statistics of herd numbers during Round Ups. This is NOT keeping and maintaining a ecological balance of America’s Mustangs on our tax payer’s Public Lands! People wake up! BLM has violated many laws that are supposed to protect America’s Mustangs!
    1. The Burns Act and
    2. The 1971 Wild Horse & Burros Amendment.
    Another example, these recent last winter months of 2013, Mass Helicopter Round Ups by BLM has video proof of abuse and mistreatment of America’s Wild Horses & Burros. I’ve seen Helicopters actually hit a colt, and even a young burro with the skiffs (landing supports) from a Helicopter! This is criminal and unacceptable! I have also witnessed watching on the You Tube of cattle prods used on Mustangs during BLM’s Round Ups! People, wake up! May I remind the public that it is illegal to eat or sell horses for slaughter in the USA. Horses, domestic or Wild, is illegal to eat for human consumption. I even witnessed on the Internet, a Video of a BLM’s meeting to discuss what to do with approx. 60,000+ incarcerated Wild Horses because the cost to warehouse and feed captured Wild Horses is costing Millions of Dollars annually. In the BLM meeting sitting next to BLM’s chairperson, Joan Guyfoyle, a member Stephen, proposed to send warehoused Wild Horses to Slaughter! Quote by Stephens, “What use are these Horses now? Send them to slaughter”.
    I am sickened beyond belief that this abuse of our beautiful Iconic Wild Horses are abused, tortured and finally incarcerated for the rest of their lives if not adopted by kind hearted people and Wild Horse Advocacy Non Profit Organizations.
    I will repeat myself; there are approximately 32,000 Free & Wild Horses left on our Public Lands! BLM has incarcerated approximately > 60,000+ Wild Horses.
    Please submit petitions, emails, phone calls to express your dissatisfaction with the policies of the ” Bureau of Land Management ” to the political elite who should keep our laws enforced! Secretary of Interior is Sandy Jewell. She needs to stop the propaganda and spin that Wild Horse populations double in 4 years. Where is the scientific evidence and data proving her statement to be even believable?
    Land resources are allocated for Cattle Ranchers, Sheep Ranchers, Mining & the Gas/Fracking Industries. Wild Horses are not receiving their True Freedom because of political beauracry, red tape, and the high cost for tax payers to have our Nation’s Mustangs Rounded Up, then incarcerated thereafter. Something smells bad here, and I will call it as I see it as pure Bull Sh-t!
    Ranchers stop insulting the American People with your rhetoric that the Wild Horses are not indigenous to North America. Our country would not be what it is today (from our past history) before automobiles were invented! Since the Industrial era of the 1900’s and currently, it seems our society does not value our Mustangs.
    I believe differently; that the American People do want our Mustangs to remain Wild & Free on our public lands. Wild Horse & Domestic Wild Horse advocate, actor Robert Redford supports this belief, and is a staunch supporter for “Return To Freedom”, a non profit Wild Horse Sanctuary located in Lompoc, California.
    I plan to visit this Wild Horse Sanctuary this Spring Fundraiser event and Educational event on May 3rd, 2014.
    Respectively submitted,
    Joanne Wade

  • Kc Coleman April 5, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Get your cattle off of federal lands. This whole thing is despicable. All the way around. You cattlemen, just made another vegetarian. Thank goodness you can and that prime meat overseas and get a pretty penny for it. Lord knows you are not selling it in the United States.

    • Rainbowruth April 6, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      KC, you boycott the consumption of a cattle ranchers beef because he has trespassing cows but you have no problem consuming the vegetables of a farmer who employs trespassing Mexicans. Your hypocrisy is showing.

  • Marybeth Devlin April 6, 2014 at 1:09 am

    There is no overpopulation of wild horses in Utah or anywhere else. BLM’s mustang population-growth figures are biologically-impossible. The “data” consist of inflated estimates … based on extrapolations … employing assumptions … according to projections … derived from computer-models. They even include unborn foals. The truth is that, for most herds, BLM sets the maximum population below minimum-viable population. Within herd management areas — which are supposed to be dedicated principally, although not necessarily exclusively, for the wild horses’ benefit — 82 percent of the forage is apportioned for livestock, 18 percent for wild horses. This range-war must stop. BLM needs to implement Holistic Management, which would allow more cattle and more wild horses to thrive together while restoring the range and the water-cycle.

  • Bub April 6, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Feral horses imo… not so wild.

  • Dan April 6, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I think the BLM and all of it’s beauracratic terrorist need to be dealt with excessive force to eradicate this vermin terrorizing these landowners!!!! This has been going on for too long!! Every BLM EMPLOYEE involved needs to be made a public example of what should happen to any government beauracrat who decides to trample on the rights of the people!!!

  • horserunner April 9, 2014 at 11:59 am

    At one time controlling the feral horse herds was part of the responsibility of the ranchers that had the grazing allotments. The BLM would tell an rancher that there “X” number of horse too many on the range and they had to be removed or the allotment would be reduced.

    Some horse were sold or kept for saddle stock and some horse did go to the slaughter houses but the cost was MUCH less for the government and the tax payer than now.

    Was there bad and brutal horse runners, of course, but I would say that the horse as a whole are not any better treated today. Just treated badly in different ways.

    The only difference between a wild horse and a domestic horse is the wild horse has not been caught. I ran horses in 1961 with both an airplane and without.

    There are too many horse on the range and too many being held in non productive status confined to a lifetime of senseless captivity.

    If the horses are truly wild then confining them in pastures is as cruel as it gets, if they are feral as I say, then they need to be controlled and managed in the most humane and productive way and that means letting private enterprise do it for a profit. Most of the feral horses can not be adopted out. people can’t afford to keep them and that problem is growing as the cost of living goes up and wages stay static at best, with jobs in sort supply. There was a day that if you were a skilled horse runner and didn’t have a job, you could go run in a few horses, break the young stock and sell the rest for slaughter. Not a few ranches were started and maintain in this manner. These people were not on welfare, they helped the range and controlled the horse population which in turn helped the deer, big horn sheep and other wildlife. Wild land are not wild and have not been since 1850, the need to be managed for multi-use by people that understand the range. There are ranchers that don’t do a good job of that either.

  • Jeanne April 9, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Be interesting if a bunch of those horses happened into private corrals, happened into trailers and just happend to be released in downtown Vegas, Denver, New York, San Francisco, ect.

  • scrmble April 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Help start a grassroots movement to show public support for Cliven Bundy.


  • sandra longley April 10, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    The tragic failing of the BLM is the fact that they let this squatter get away without paying the 1.35 per cow calf to graze–for 20 years..The reason we call it welfare ranching is that we the taxpayer subsidize this whole mess..This program is millions in the hole..The rest of us buy our own property and raise our livestock on it-without tax payer money.

  • rawiron1 April 12, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Send this article to DRUDGE!

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