A long-standing controversy over the management of wild horses in Utah came to a head this week when Iron County issued a letter to the Bureau of Land Management demanding the immediate removal of feral horses from county lands.
Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller says there have been ongoing requests for action, but county officials decided to take matters into their own hands when they heard of a case where the BLM was using $2 million to confiscate privately owned cattle in Clark County, NV.
"Why are they forcing somebody else to be in compliance when they themselves have not been in compliance," said Miller. "We recognized that it was time that they needed to understand that they needed to be charged to fulfill their responsibility.”
Miller says the BLM is responsible to keep feral horse populations at appropriate management levels to maintain the usability of public lands for grazing. He says the AML for Iron County is 300 horses, but says reports show there are possibly 1,200 animals in the area and perhaps more than 2,000.
“There is just no way that the landscape can sustain that," said Miller. "So they’re relying heavily on the feed that the grazing animals such as the wildlife or the other cattle that are running and they are decimating the range.”
The letter included a response deadline of April 4, which the BLM met, but Miller says the reply was not acceptable for the situation.
“Just a statement that they will work with us and they want to work with us, which again that's not acceptable, but because we have met them formally we will be reconvening again and find out just where they really are," said Miller.
Miller says the county does have a plan of action if the BLM does not present what they deem to be an appropriate solution at a meeting scheduled for next week.