Americans will soon have a $5 billion wild horse problem
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Americans will soon have a $5 billion wild horse problem

October 27, 2019

Amy Joi O’Donoghue: We’re out here today in the West Desert of Tooele County on a road called the Pony Express
Route, and there’s going to be about 45 people who watch the Bureau of Land Management gather approximately 200 wild horses out of the Onaqui herd. The Onaqui herd is pretty famous. They’re beautiful horses. They’re colorful and people come from all
over the world to watch them and take photographs of them. But there’s about 500 horses out here and
the BLM says there should only be about 200 or less. The management of the wild horses and burros in the West has become a problematic issue for the Bureau of Land Management. They’re spending $50 million a year to warehouse these horses. But they’re under a lot of public pressure
just to leave the animals alone. Gus Warr: Welcome everybody out here on our Onaqui, first day of our Onaqui wild horse gather. My name is Gus Warr. I’m the state wild horse and burro program manager for BLM Utah. These horses that we’re gonna gather today have just kind of continually increased and increased
and over time that’s where they’ve come. Where did they originate from? Early ranchers, you know, up on the Cedar
Mountains that was some military remounts way back when, but most of our
herd management areas the horses originated from some local source. Amy Joi O’Donoghue: Looks like they’re bringing in the first bunch of horses. I can see a helicopter far off in the distance and I think one of the observers is saying there is about
nine animals. I think we’re about a mile away from where the actual trap is. There was a time more than a decade ago
when I was a lot closer but this, this is quite, quite far away. Amy Joi O’Donoghue: You seem pretty emotional about this. Lynette Larson: It shouldn’t be. There’s no empathy in this administration. There’s no empathy in the BLM. These horses were here long ago. It’s their land. So, these are our horses. We, you know, this is our land, these are
our horses. So yeah, I am emotional. There’s no other spirit like a horse. Amy Joi O’Donoghue: So what would you prefer them to do? Lynette Larson: Leave them alone. Let predators back to help keep the herds
down. Marla Trowbridge: When they came in and they did the ban on slaughter, it totally changed the dynamic of the horse world. And then as horrible as slaughter sounds
it’s a lot faster end than it is to starve and rot behind a barn. Matt Preston: We support the long-term viability of that, of this herd. We have to do gathers, we have to manage towards an appropriate management level. But you know, on a personal level we love these horses as well and as managers we just,
we’re trying to find the right balance and we base our decisions on
what we know about the land. But getting people out there to see those
horses up close and personal, that’s some, the smiles you see out there
when we do when we go out and check on the horses and see people visiting,
like that’s awesome. Amy Joi O’Donoghue: So since its passage in 1971, the Wild Horse and Burro Preservation Act has been amended five times. The last time it was amended, according to Gus, the politician who was able to tackle this
controversial issue was not reelected. And so there’s a lot of management approaches that could be changed if Congress was willing to take on this issue. But it is such a political hot potato, nobody wants to and so thus we get to this stage where the federal government insists there’s too many horses on our range.

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  1. Five billion dollars?  Nonsense.  You only need an executive order, effective Monday morning, ending public-lands ranching.  The driver of these roundups, and the warehousing of captured animals, will be gone.  There is no 'two-state solution' on western rangelands.  It's the horses or the livestock (privately owned, of course).  Take your pick.

  2. A pertinent subject, however, it doesn't answer the questions: Why are the horses considered a nuisance? Why does the BLM warehouse the horses for $50 million/yr?

    Edit: I had to read another comment in order to find out. Thank you @Western Horse Watchers for the explanation and the great suggestion. The government should not be removing wild horses from public lands to allow ranching. If the ranchers want to use the lands they need to be respectful of the other creatures that use it too. This Deseret News reporter and the title seems blatantly biased toward ranchers by leaving out this crucial information.

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