Nevada lawsuit exposes underbelly of the Public Lands grazing disaster

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COLORADO SPRINGS, CO. (Jan. 17, 2014) — A lawsuit brought by the Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) and the Nevada Farm Bureau (NFB) against the federal government claims wild horse overpopulation creates serious environmental concerns for horses, wildlife, and the ecology of rangelands, yet makes no mention of the glaring inconsistencies between policies of wild horse management and the free ride granted to federal livestock grazing.

The lawsuit accuses the federal government of failing to comply with the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act by not keeping wild horse populations within Appropriate Management Levels (AML) set by the BLM. The lawsuit claims that the wild horses have damaged public land and demands not only removal of “excess” wild horses, but the disposal of removed wild horses that are incarcerated in holding facilities.

“Even though millions of privately-owned livestock occupy public lands, the few remaining remnant wild horse herds take the blame for the degradation,” states Ginger Kathrens, Volunteer Director of The Cloud Foundation. “This lawsuit exposes the bias against wild horses and hopefully allows for the truth to get out to the American public.”

“The staggering cost of the federal grazing program is borne by you and me.,” states Craig Downer, Nevada ecologist and author of The Wild Horse Conspiracy.“ American taxpayers subsidize welfare ranching to the tune of $123 million each year in direct costs and an estimated $500 million to $1 billion annually in other direct and indirect costs.”

Beef from public land grazing accounts for less than 3% of the American beef production as reported in the Center for Biological Diversity’s Assessing the Full Cost of the Federal Grazing Program.

“When it comes to managing Wild Horses and Burros on public lands, the BLM has tried to accommodate extractive users, including welfare ranchers, by reducing most of the wild horse and burro herds to levels which jeopardize their future existence,” added Kathrens.

“The Cloud Foundation is suggesting a common sense approach in which wild horses and burros are managed on the range, at a much reduced cost to the American taxpayer. This needs to happen now. Wild horse herd sizes must increase which will require federal grazing decreases on the 11% of federal lands where wild horses live. Wild horses and burros need not pay the price of freedom and family for an irresponsible, money draining grazing program.

“The relative proportions of wild horses and burros, and livestock on the public lands reveal gross inequities,” says Downer. “Even in wild horse territories, domestic livestock is allocated 82% of forage leaving 18% for wild horses and burros. Wild horses and burros are managed on only 11% or 31.6 million acres of public lands as compared to the 238 million acres of BLM and Forest Service land open to livestock grazing. Domestic livestock outnumbers wild horses on public lands 50:1.

“This recent lawsuit harkens back to the days of the Sagebrush Rebellion, a 1980’s movement to turn control of Federal Public lands to local authorities,” says Kathrens. “There are still rebels out there who seek to control vast areas of the West for personal gain; wild horses and the 1971 Act stand in their way.”

The unanimously passed 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act stated its intention clearly:

That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene.

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The Cloud Foundation (TCF) is a Colorado based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wild horses and burros on our western public lands.


Nevada Farm Bureau counties allege feds mismanage wild horses – NBC News, Daniel Arkin

Nevada Association of Counties, farm bureau sue feds over management of wild horses

Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act

Assessing the full cost of the Federal Grazing Program

BLM Report: Public lands ranching fails rangeland health standards on a third of rangelands assessed, 33 million acres

6 thoughts on “Nevada lawsuit exposes underbelly of the Public Lands grazing disaster”

  1. AT least this Omnibus bill has put to rest horse slaughter plants popping up like mushrooms in any of the states, hopefully forever. Now if the two bills S.541 and H.R.1094 could be dragged to the floor for a yes vote it would stop all of the killing. If anyone wants to repair all of the damage to public lands remove all of the cows and sheep put the Mustangs back where they were kidnapped from and watch the grasslands repair themselves. In one season after the rains you would see the grass and plants coming back up. Keep the cows and sheep out and every damaged area would come back. All of these public officials know this but they must forever blame the horses to be able to cater to the cattle ranchers, frackers and oil drillers.


  2. The “safekeeping of the horses on ranches with terms not to exceed 10 years”. Looks like that accommodates the Burns Amendment. The BLM also says they do not sell to kill buyers — really? — not so.


    1. Sorry I had to edit your comments, but we cannot allow misleading or inaccurate information about the Omnibus spending bill to be posted here. We are preparing a report on it to be posted in a day or two. Thank you!


      1. I really don’t know what part of my comments were “misleading” or “inaccurate” as the information is from two very good sources. I don’t make the stuff up and look to good sources — always. Certainly there was no intention to be in any way misleading/inaccurate. Perhaps you can send me a private message? Thanks.


  3. Someone should confirm this but it has been stated thhat the Omnibus heading over for Obama’s signature has good news for wild horses. The bill prohibits BLM from spending funds for killing healthy, unadopted wild horses and burros. It also allows more contracts be written for safekeeping of the horses on ranches with terms not to exceed 10 years. And it allows for funding to be transferred from USFS to BLM for removal and adoption of WHB on national forest lands (instead of auctioning). We need embrace these provisions and make the best of them.


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