An opinion piece published Thursday by the Reno Gazette Journal, in response to a story appearing the day before, claims that the reporter failed to explain why the BLM continues to aggressively remove wild horses from western rangelands.
The response didn’t either, so lets take a closer look.
Overpopulation, excess animals. The terms appear in the original statute but were not clarified until 1978, when Appropriate Management Levels were introduced.
AMLs are small relative to the available resources because most of them have been assigned to privately owned livestock. There is nothing in the current statute that says they must correspond to 20% or less of the authorized forage, but that’s how they’re structured.
Grazing fees. Public-lands ranchers pay about five cents on the dollar to feed their animals, compared to the going rate. The grazing program insulates them on the cost side from the realities of a free market.
Public-lands ranching is government dependency and redistribution of wealth, which the writer overlooks. State and federal agencies operate taxpayer-funded programs that alleviate adverse conditions, improving the ranchers’ fortunes.
Ranching income and profitability are inversely related to the number of horses allowed on the range, contrary to the writer’s claim. By getting rid of the horses, roundups help the ranchers access all of the AUMs on their permits. The advocates reinforce the effort with their darting programs.
Land ownership. The public acres in an allotment or HMA or WHT belong to the American people, not the permittee, as implied in the commentary. Grazing is a privilege, not a right. In the U.S., the people tell government what to do, not the other way around.
If the ranchers cited in the article couldn’t graze those allotments due to lack of forage, did they leave the profession? Or did they continue operations on rented pastures or their deeded acres, importing feed as necessary?
If they can do that during droughts and off-seasons, why not do that year around?
The writer did not cite any adverse impacts to drilling and mining in Nevada attributable to wild horses.