Friday, December 17, 2004

Below is a letter to the editor written on behalf of NCA by President Preston Wright in response to the wild horse supporters, who oppose sale authority given to the BLM in the 2005 Omnibus Bill.

Letter to the Editor:

Wild horses are in conflict with healthy rangelands, rather than with ranchers and their livestock. In this time when current range management theory dictates that public land ranchers need to have some grazing system, some method for rotating the areas his or her livestock use in order to provide periods of rest for the range, it is simply no longer acceptable that large herds of horses graze the same range all year, every year.

No one is proposing that all the wild horses be removed from the ranges; the sale of older horses is simply the most practical way to allow for the reduction of horse numbers to levels which approach a balance with the health of their ranges. The numbers of livestock are controlled by permits and seasons of use. Numbers of wildlife are controlled by hunting quotas and predators and migration. Wild horse numbers are set by the Wild Horse and Burro Act and the regulations which implement it. Wild horse numbers are uncontrolled when the BLM’s hands, as they are now, are tied by legal appeals and budgetary limits; wild horse numbers are controlled in that case only by drought and starvation, and that method is particularly cruel to both the ravaged country and the ravenous creature.

That ranchers have complained about unrestricted wild horse for decades is undeniable. That the BLM has been granted the authority to sell older horses outright, after nearly forty years of the Wild Horse and Burro Act, is a testament to the fact that many proponents of wild horses have seen the reality of excess wild horses and have quietly stepped aside. It’s not that the ranchers have finally won. It simply that the same range science which has greatly restricted the way livestock are grazed in the West has finally come to face the reality of uncontrolled grazing by the people’s horses in Nevada.

In the unending effort to balance natural resource access and management conflicts upon the West’s rangelands, nearly every group has been willing to come to the table and put their “money where their mouth is”. Ranchers, sportsmen, and environmental groups, all have accepted the need for, and have made, mitigating contributions. The wild horse advocates howling now have never done anything but ask for more, probably because it has all been free—they’ve not even had to stand the emotional price of seeing animals mummified alive due to starvation and drought.

Limited sale authority of excess wild horses will give the BLM the tool for which they have always expressed a need, in order to return the wild horse herds to levels which will allow for a balance between healthy native plant communities and forage and water in amounts proper for a horse.

Preston Wright, Deeth, NV.

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