National Coalition Calls on Utah Governor to Stop Attack on Wild Horses

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Salt Lake City, Utah (April 28, 2014) — Today, representing millions of American citizens, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, a national coalition, its parent organization Return to Freedom, and its coalition partner The Cloud Foundation sent a letter to Utah Governor Gary Herbert (pdf) in response to his attack on wild horses.

Responding to public statements he made last week, the groups urged Governor Herbert to stop exaggerating the number of wild horses in Utah, stop scapegoating wild horses for range damage caused by private livestock, and drop suggestions that the state take over management of wild horses in Utah.

In their letter, the wild horse groups stated:

America’s wild horses and burros are the heritage of all Americans, and Americans overwhelmingly support maintaining and protecting these animals on our public lands. They must be managed in the interest of all Americans, not the few who view mustangs as competition for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized grazing on our public lands.

The number of wild horses pales in comparison to the number of privately-owned livestock grazing on federal land in Utah, and the groups charged that by focusing attention on wild horses, Governor Herbert is “scapegoating wild horses for the damage to our public rangelands caused by livestock.

According to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) statistics:

  • Livestock grazing occurs on 22 million acres of BLM land in Utah, while wild horses are restricted to just 2.1 million acres.
  • Fewer than 3,500 wild horses are estimated to live on BLM land in Utah (one horse per 600 acres), while hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle graze the public rangelands in Utah.
  • The BLM allocates 55 times more forage to privately-owned livestock in Utah than to federally-protected wild horses. (23,472 AUMs [Animal Unit Months] to wild horses vs. 1.3 million AUMs to livestock)

Meanwhile, according to national public opinion polls, Americans overwhelmingly support protecting wild horses on public lands and oppose horse slaughter.

By contrast, only 29 percent of Americans want to ensure that our public lands are available for livestock grazing (pdf).

The letter concludes:

After reviewing the facts contained in this letter, we are hopeful that you will acknowledge the disparity of resources allocated to private livestock versus wild horses on federal land in your state, and specify that all citizens, including those in Utah, must respect federal laws that mandate the protection of wild horses and burros. We understand that you do not endorse the unlawful and violent behavior that has occurred in Nevada related to the case of Cliven Bundy, and we are certain that you would not want your public stance against wild horses to inspire similarly unlawful activity in your state.

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