Wild Horses Targeted For Roundup In Utah Rangeland Clash
ENTERPRISE, Utah, April 11 (Reuters) - A Utah county, angry over the destruction of federal rangeland that ranchers use to graze cattle, has started a bid to round up federally protected wild horses it blames for the problem in the latest dustup overland management in the U.S. West.
Close to 2,000 wild horses are roaming southern Utah's Iron County, well over the 300 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has dubbed as appropriate for the rural area's nine designated herd management zones, County Commissioner David Miller said.
County officials complain the burgeoning herd is destroying vegetation crucial to ranchers who pay to graze their cattle on the land, and who have already been asked to reduce their herds to cope with an anticipated drought.
Wild horse preservation groups say any attempt to remove the horses would be a federal crime.
On Thursday, county workers accompanied by a BLM staffer, set up the first in a series of metal corrals designed to trap and hold the horses on private land abutting the federal range until they can be moved to BLM facilities for adoption.
"There's been no management of the animals and they keep reproducing," Miller said in an interview. "The rangeland just can't sustain it."
The conflict reflects broader tension between ranchers, who have traditionally grazed cattle on public lands and held sway over land-use decisions, and environmentalists and land managers facing competing demands on the same land.