Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Utah official: BLM 'impotent' to deal with wild horse problem

SALT LAKE CITY — A frustrated Beaver County commissioner complained to a top U.S. Department of Interior official that the agency is like a gelded horse and "impotent" to solve the wild horse problem in the West. Jim Lyons, deputy assistant secretary under Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, was in town last week to talk sage grouse management. But he received an earful about the wild horse population problem in Utah. "This is the worst managed horse population, but you guys always seem to pick on grazers," complained Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney in a Friday exchange with Lyons. "It has to come down from Congress. Congress has to step it up. … You guys are like a gelded horse. You're impotent. They do not give you the skills to manage this problem." Lyons did not disagree on the agency's challenges. "We recognize the problem with the wild horses," he said. "We don't have the resources." Afterward, Lyons said it's clear Western leaders need answers. "Obviously we will set to work up a briefing," he said. "The wild horse and burro problem is a significant issue when it comes to sage grouse. My worry also is that the (overpopulation) results in poor rangeland conditions, and in some ways that is inhumane. We simply don't have the capacity." Whitney said he's been to Washington, D.C., twice and is meeting Tuesday with Neal Kornze, the Bureau of Land Management's national director, to again plead for action on Utah's wild horse population problem. Range population estimates of wild horses and burros in 10 Western states as of March 2015 are 58,150, well above the BLM's targeted levels of 26,715, according to the agency. In Utah, the appropriate management level for wild horses and burros is 1,956, but there are more than twice that many animals — 4,906...more

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