County commissioners go to Washington; Day 2

CEDAR CITY – Garfield, Beaver and Iron County commissioners continued meetings in Washington, D.C., Wednesday after presenting the “Constitution Jurisdiction Resolution” Tuesday, which was recently passed by the Iron County Commission.

County commissioners met with head officials from the Bureau of Land Management to discuss the wild horse issue.

“It went very cordial, but it was very firm,” David Miller, Iron County commissioner, said. “We were very, very firm in pointing out this discrepancy that exists.”

Currently, the number of wild horses on BLM-managed land in Iron County surpasses what the BLM calls “Appropriate Management Level” – that is, “the number of wild horses and burros which can graze without causing damage to the range.”

The BLM is receiving pressure from groups to treat wild horses in different ways than prescribed, Miller said. They are trying to respond to this type of rhetoric.

The BLM knows what the problem is and they want to fix it, but they just don’t have the capacity,” Miller said. “Their holding facilities are full.”

The system has a lot of little things that are broken, Miller said. A resolution needs to come from Congress, and understanding is needed regarding how troublesome some of the current laws are in regard to wild horses.

“We’ve got to get that fixed at the congressional level,” Miller said. “Frankly, the BLM is doing about the best they can do under the circumstances. The more I dive into this the more I realize when you put bad policy after bad it just really makes things worse.”

Miller said he is more sympathetic to the BLM regarding restrictions they face due to poor policy and poor application of law. Where he does not sympathize is the BLM coming into an area and affecting citizens with a broken policy, he said.

Endangered Species Act

Some groups and foundations don’t have the same viewpoints or philosophies as Miller on the issue.

Friends of Animals and the Cloud Foundation have filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list North American wild horses on public lands as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

According to a press release from Friends of Animals, this was done because the groups feel that the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act has failed to protect the wild horses.

These types of groups are trying to abuse an already abused law, Miller said.

The Endangered Species Act has an appeal to Americans because we don’t want any species to go extinct,” he said. “For them to petition under the Endangered Species Act demonstrates they disregard the credibility of that program for their own benefit.”

There is a misclassification of wild horses as a nonnative species, Ginger Kathrens, executive director of The Cloud Foundation, said. Without proper recognition of their native status, the horses could become extinct.

The BLM is obligated, under the Wild Horse and Burro Act, to protect wild, free-roaming horses as an “integral part of the natural system of public lands.”

According to the press release from Friends of Animals, the BLM claims that wild horses need to be removed from public lands to protect rangeland health. However, the vast majority of public lands are open to livestock grazing, which causes far more damage to the land.

“(The BLM is) receiving unbelievable amounts of pressure by groups that don’t understand how grazing rights work,” Miller said. “They don’t understand how important it is to keep the health of the range viable.”

It is argued that removing and gathering wild horses can disturb the land and affect it negatively.

“Every time the government restricts their habitat or takes them away from the range, it disrupts horses’ social bonds and damages the overall fitness of the herds,” Barnes said. “However, saving wild horses in North America and letting them roam freely could bring balance back to our ecosystems.”

We all love horses, Miller said; this is not about horses. The issue is about a program that is outbalanced and affecting the people of Iron County, he said.

Miller added that he has a responsibility to the people of Iron County and will not take that lightly.

The Wednesday meeting with the BLM concluded the commissioners’ visit to Washington, D.C., and the commissioners have since returned to Utah.

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  • Uncle Rob June 21, 2014 at 5:57 am

    I believe in all fairness to the citizens of Garfield, Iron, and Beaver Counties a statement on the total cost of their trip to Washington to meet with the BLM and WHO PAID FOR IT should be MADE PUBLIC.

    By the way, there are far more livestock AUMs on wild horse management areas than there are horse AUMs. It’s just math….

  • Bree June 21, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Yes, wild horses are best used for dog food. Isn’t that what they really want?!

    • dk June 26, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      The FDA prohibits animals for meat if they don’t have sufficient medical records. U.S. horses, wild or domestic, don’t have sufficient medical records. The BLM uses long-lasting birth control on some of the wild horses, without a way to really know which horses were given it and when. This makes them unfit for anyone to eat — including raptors and large predators — and especially for pregnant women.

      Pet food companies stopped using horse meat in the pet food because it was killing pets — it’s adulterated meat.

      • Bender June 27, 2014 at 10:51 am

        “This makes them [horses] unfit for anyone to eat — including raptors and large predators”
        What? Apparently the wild horse fetishists believe we have a Jewish raptor/predator population here in Utah which they would like to see keep a weird kind of wildlife kosher and not eat the unclean horse flesh.
        Are you guys planning to police the eating habits of the condor, mountain lion and coyote? Only FDA approved carrion?

  • Chris June 21, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    If it comes down to the money and power wielded by horse lovers against that of these three puny counties, the counties lose overwhelmingly. Save the money of the taxpayers and move on to more important issues. Ranching is an increasingly unimportant part of our economy. I believe that this all really comes down to Dave Miller trying to get his name in the news as much as possible. Note that no other commissioners are ever mentioned except him.

    • dk June 26, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Wild horses bring tourism dollars to states that need it and have them. Tourists spend money on airline tickets, car rentals, hotels and motels, restaurants and the list goes on. The sales tax on all of this benefits the government as well.

  • Craig Downer June 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    It is so wrong how the wild horses are being scapegoated, or blamed, for the real abuses to the land and ecosystem that are being caused by cattle and sheep overgrazing and other man-caused abuses. No matter how this is sugared over it is still wrong. How the horses (a returned native species in North America) are being targeted is shameful. No amount of obfuscation can change this fact.

    • Bender June 25, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      “the horses (a returned native species in North America)”
      This is a wild horse fetishist talking point/fantasy. Unless we want to start reintroducing Wooly Mammoths, Saber Tooth Tigers, a Pleistocene climate and a genetically different horse population there can be no return of the native North American Horse.
      Besides that CRAIG DOWNER, where’s the love for the bison? Are wild buffalo second class citizens to the wild horse?

      • dk June 26, 2014 at 10:39 pm

        Bender, we already have DNA evidence that horses lived past the Pleistocene period. Please try to keep up on new and emerging science.

        • Bender June 27, 2014 at 10:38 am

          The pockets of horses which MAY have survived the Pleistocene in North America were selected for extinction fair and square. You’re evading my larger points which are:
          1) An entire ecosystem changed and there were many species extinctions; what’s so special about the horse that it gets to be reintroduced
          2) The present day wild horse population is genetically different than the population that went extinct approx 10.000 years ago. Pretending you are reintroducing the native North American horse with its old world descendants would be like trying to reintroduce the wolf using Labrador Retrievers.

      • Steven stapp June 27, 2014 at 4:49 am

        Besides your lacking education of the history of the horse in N.America it might interest you to know that many wild horse advocates are also involved in an attempt to get better protection for the few Yellowstone Bison that remain. Unfortunately Congress has never bothered to protect them like they did the wild horses and burros. The ranchers of Montana maintain the false belief that bison might pass on brucellosis to their cattle even though there has never been a documented case of that happening. They hold the political reins in that state and we all know what that means.

        • Bender June 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

          Yeah, I get it Steve. You love horses. I like them too. I don’t let my fondness for the animal blind me to the extent that I ignore science and common sense. You get your own opinion but you don’t get your own version of reality.

  • dk June 26, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Here is the true situation in the U.S. — 12 million cattle and sheep, and 22,000 Federally-protected wild horses and burros on our public lands. Read more here:

  • Sue carter June 26, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    David Miller is a Constitutionalist Party member and friend of Cliven Bundy. It’s all about power to a few County Commissioner who believe that County Government is the highest form of governance. Miller is picking on the horses because they are a defenseless scapegoat that he can impose his inflated sense of importance on.

  • Lynn O'Toole June 27, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Public lands were not created to feed livestock. They were created for the American people.

    Ranchers are paying about $1.35 per month per head for grazing rights. That’s about the best deal in America. We now have about 10 times as many livestock on public lands as horses. If there’s overgrazing going on, it’s quite apparent where it’s coming from and it’s also obvious that this issue isn’t about wild horses, it’s about ranchers fighting for continued monopolizing of public lands. They don’t care about the ecosystem, the horses or the tourist industry. This is a land grab, pure and simple.

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