Channeling the January, 2020 article by The Christian Science Monitor, it portrays the horses as thieves—depriving the poor ranchers of critical resources—on land set aside for the horses. Of course, they forgot to mention that part.
On the edge of the wild horse range in Challis in central Idaho, Jackie Ingram, a rancher, has shared 168,700 acres of public land with the mustang herds for 46 years. Each spring her family drives hundreds of Black Angus cattle up a steep road through Spur Canyon to graze the high, windswept hills on Bureau of Land Management land.
In some years, she said, the wild horses left so little grass to eat that other wildlife disappeared, and her family had to cut back their cattle herd.
In section 3 of the original WHB Act, Congress ordered the Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture to work with state wildlife agencies to balance the needs of the horses with those of wildlife, especially endangered species.
There was no provision for livestock.
Everything was wrecked in 1976 by FLPMA, the ‘No Rancher Left Behind Act,’ which codified ‘multiple use’ on western rangelands, including areas designated for wild horses and burros, giving priority to privately owned livestock.
It also sanctioned helicopter roundups.
Subsequent changes to the WHB Act have left it ineffective, no longer affording the protections sought by Velma. That’s why you have 50,000 horses in off-range pastures.
The Challis HMA, with the highest stocking rates for cattle seen on these pages, is a fine example (see linked post below).
Wild horse welfare groups argue that the crisis is largely invented. They say the government sets its population targets artificially low to justify mass removals that serve the interests of cattle ranchers and distract from other public land policies that are far more damaging.
As for contraceptives, the ranchers and the BLM will probably never accept them, because they’re difficult to administer and darted mares still eat.
RELATED: Binge Grazing at Challis HMA.