A resolution urging the federal government to reduce wild horse and burro populations by means that could include sterilization with a method of birth control not yet proven safe or by employing “lethal removal” has failed in Utah’s State Senate.
HCR 22, introduced by Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, called on the federal government to “humanely” reduce wild horse numbers to “manageable levels” or turn over authority to the state.
Ivory painted the wild horse population as responsible for creating “hell” for other wildlife, public-land ranchers and for wild horses themselves.
In fact, the number of wild horses and burros on Utah ranges last year was about 5,700, living on about 2.4 million of the 23 million acres in the state run by the Bureau of Land Management. Meanwhile, the amount of livestock that BLM allowed to graze at below-market rates was equivalent to more than 100,400 cows plus one calf each.
The loss of Utah’s beautiful and diverse wild herds would be a tragedy — not only because of the loss of the living history they represent, but because humane, minimally invasive management solutions exist. They need only be aggressively implemented.
RTF advocates for doubling down on on-the-range solutions including: the judicious use of the safe, proven fertility control vaccine PZP, revisiting population targets based on a fair interpretation of multiple-use land management, providing incentives for ranchers who reduce livestock grazing in wild horse management areas, better range stewardship, and relocating horses only if truly necessary.