Bill seeks to allow states to manage wild horses

 This 2013 file photo shows some of the hundreds of mustangs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management removed from federal rangeland. (Photo: Scott Sonner/AP file photo )

This 2013 file photo shows some of the hundreds of mustangs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management removed from federal rangeland. (Photo: Scott Sonner/AP file photo )

 By Martin Griffith, Associated Press

A Utah representative has introduced legislation to allow Western states and American Indian tribes to take over management of wild horses and burros from the federal government.

U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has mismanaged the animals on public rangelands and states should have the option of managing them.

An overpopulation of horses is pushing cattle off the range, the Republican lawmaker said, and leading to the destruction of important habitat for native species.

“States and tribes already successfully manage large quantities of wildlife within their borders,” Stewart said in a statement. “If horses and burros were under that same jurisdiction, I’m confident that new ideas and opportunities would be developed to manage the herds more successfully than the federal government.”

But Anne Novak, executive director of California-based Protect Mustangs, said her group opposes the legislation because it would lead to states and tribes killing the animals or selling them off for slaughter for human consumption.

The government is rounding up too many mustangs while allowing livestock to feed at taxpayer expense on the same rangeland scientists say is being overgrazed, she said.

“We’ve had firsthand experience with states and tribes managing wild horses, and it’s horribly cruel,” Novak said in a statement. “They ruthlessly remove wild horses and sell them to kill-buyers at auction. Severe animal abuse would be the result of the (legislation).”

The Bureau of Land Management says it’s doing all it can, given budget constraints, overflowing holding pens and a distaste for the politically unpopular options of either ending the costly roundups or slaughtering excess horses.

The bill’s introduction comes at a time when the bureau has been under increasing pressure from ranchers to remove horses that they say threaten livestock and wildlife on rangelands already damaged by drought.

In Utah, Iron County commissioners had threatened to gather up hundreds of mustangs themselves, saying the government refuses to remove enough horses in herds that double in size every five years.

Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller said he and commissioners from Utah’s Beaver and Garfield counties are trying to drum up support for a resolution in support of the legislation at the National Association of Counties annual conference in New Orleans, which ends Monday.

“The resolution will be instrumental in getting Chris Stewart’s bill through Congress because it shows support across the nation,” he told the Spectrum in St. George, Utah.

Stewart said his Wild Horse Oversight Act would extend all protections that horses and burros enjoy under the federal Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 while giving states the opportunity of implementing their own management plans.

Under the bill, the states could form cooperative agreements to manage herds that cross over borders, and the federal government would continue to monitor horses and burros to ensure that population numbers as prescribed by the 1971 act are maintained.

The bureau estimates 40,600 of the animals — the vast majority horses — roam free on bureau-managed rangelands in 10 Western states.

The population exceeds by nearly 14,000 the number the agency has determined can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses.

At a glance

Some 49,000 horses and burros removed from the range are being held in government-funded short- and long-term facilities.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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U.S. Raelian Movement says Cliven Bundy owes grazing fees to Native Americans, not the federal government

PR Newswire

LAS VEGAS, April 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A parcel of land in Bunkerville, Nevada, about an hour’s drive east of Las Vegas, is currently the scene of heated controversy, with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) claiming that local rancher Cliven Bundy owes the federal government over $1 million for years of accumulated grazing fees.

Insisting that Bundy has been using publicly owned land as ranchland for his own profit, the BLM recently went so far as to seize the rancher’s cattle. Although the cattle have since been released following negotiations, the government says the grazing fees are still due.

But does the federal government really own the land it’s assessing grazing fees for?

Not according to the U.S. Raelian Movement.

“The Moapas, a band of the Paiute Indians, still have a map showing that the land comprising the Bundy ranch was promised to them by federal treaty,” explained Las Vegas resident Thomas Kaenzig, who is a Raelian Guide and spokesperson for the U.S. Raelian Movement. “That means the land really belongs to them. If Bundy should be paying grazing rights fees to anyone at all, it’s to these Native American descendants of the original owners. They were there first!”

According to Kaenzig, the government’s claim to lands that once belonged to indigenous tribes is illegal.

“The U.S. federal government repeatedly violated its own constitution by seizing large amounts of territory that belonged to Native Americans by treaty,” he said. “That includes much of the 80 percent of Nevada that is today referred to as public land, since it was illegally appropriated. The particular area used by Cliven Bundy for cattlegrazing, along with the surrounding region, was taken from the Moapas. It’s outrageous that the U.S. government claims that land when the Moapas clearly had a treaty designating otherwise.”

Kaenzig said that injustice should be addressed, with the government paying reparations for the nuclear testing and other activities it pursued on tribal land.

“It’s not public land, but stolen land,” he said. “It’s time to return it to its rightful owners!”

SOURCE Raelian Movement