BLM to remove ‘excess’ wild horses from Utah’s beloved Onaqui herd

Critics blast feds’ never-ending cycle of roundups as inhumane, anti-science and wasteful.

It is with great sadness and with no small amount of frustrated anger we write this post. The Bureau of Land Management plans to remove around half of the Onaqui horses this week in one of the most controversial roundups in years. The only thing we have an excess of is government corruption and interference. It does not matter who the President is, the mad plan to annihilate our American herds marches on unabated.

The Bureau of Land Management is set to begin a controversial roundup targeting a photogenic Utah herd of wild horses this week over the strident objections of horse advocates who contend the BLM’s horse program is a colossal waste of tax dollars and inhumane.

According to the land agency, the Onaqui herd, named for the mountain range in Tooele County where the horses roam, have overpopulated the range.

Horse advocates dispute those claims and are calling on the BLM to ditch its roundup program in favor of fertility control, which the BLM’s own science advisers have recommended.

It is our considered opinion at the Fund for Horses that neither of these measures — removal or “fertility control” — are necessary.

Many of the Onaqui mares have been inoculated over the past several years, but BLM officials say it’s not working as well as hoped.

The BLM is planning numerous roundups around the West this year, as part of a contentious horse removal policy expanded under President Trump’s time in office. The Onaqui project is by far the most controversial because it targets a beloved band of horses that people travel to Utah to watch.

These horses are among the most photographed wild herds because they are so easy to approach, yet they still behave like wild animals, to the delight of observers. This herd is believed to harbor descendants of horses that once worked the fabled Pony Express, whose historic trail passes though their range.

By Kimerlee Curyl. Copyright: © Kimerlee Curyl Photography

Starting Wednesday, 14th July, contract wranglers using helicopters will gather up to 296 horses in the Onaqui area, about 60 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. The plan is to direct the animals into pens at a cost of $800 a head.

This would be the fourth time in 15 years that this herd has been targeted, yet its numbers remain far above the 210 the BLM claims the range can support. BLM officials say the Onaqui herd management area (HMA), like the 18 others in Utah, is overpopulated with horses and removal is the best way to ensure both the health of the herd and the range.

Outrageous liars.

The real damage is caused by domestic livestock, which outnumber horses nine-to-one.

The science is on our side,” said Deniz Bolbol of the Cloud Foundation, a wild horse advocacy group. “What’s happening today here in Onaqui is happening to wild horses across the West. And there are win-win solutions that can benefit the ranchers and our wild horses. But we need an administration that has leadership and doesn’t want to just follow the status quo.”

Activists like Bolbol reject the BLM’s claims that horses are in poor shape and are damaging the range. They say the real damage is caused by domestic livestock, which outnumber horses nine-to-one on the land.

“It’s time for the Bureau of Land Management to stop taking its marching orders from the livestock industry and start taking his marching orders from the American people,” said Erik Molvar, executive director of the Western Watersheds Project, at the July 2 rally.

The BLM administers nearly 18,000 permits and leases held by ranchers who graze their livestock, mostly cattle and sheep, at least part of the year on more than 21,000 allotments. Permits and leases generally cover a 10-year period and are renewable.


Source: Salt Lake City Tribune »

Updated 7/14, 9.51 am EST

Related Reading

A proposed law, sponsored by Rep. Adam Smith, D-WA, would allow environmentalists to buy grazing permits from ranchers who are willing sellers and then retire them — essentially ending grazing on the public lands the rancher was using. 

This an idea that could bear much fruit. “Proposed law would make it easier to remove livestock from public lands,” by Nate Hegyi, KUER 90.1, 31 Jan. 2020.


Featured Image. What Will My Future Be. Onaqui, UT. Photo by Kisa Kavass.

3 thoughts on “BLM to remove ‘excess’ wild horses from Utah’s beloved Onaqui herd”

  1. There’s so much more to all this? It really has nothing to do with cattle corporations ( although the BLM is paying them under the table to help them) it’s far more of a coverup and underhanded plot to make the wild horses/Burros a problem, but don’t fall for any of their stories and corrupt behaviors!! There’s something more syndicalism going on here, no one has put their finger on it yet!!!!


  2. Thank you for your comment and follow. We so agree Backyard Horse Blog. We must be relentless.

    It would be easier if we knew who their enemies are. Who are pulling the DOI’s, the BLM’s & the politician’s strings? There is nothing in any of this for the feds. It likely a huge headache for them.

    The DOI/BLM don’t give two hoots if there is cattle grazing there or horses. If truth be told, the BLM may be thrilled to get rid of whole damn mess. There is much more going on here than cattle vs horses. Cattle stay in their areas. Wild horses … roam! It is a huge mystery … isn’t it? Or are we not “seeing the forest for the trees”? Ideas anyone? — Editor

    Liked by 1 person

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