OPEN LETTER TO BRIAN MAFFLEY AND BRETT PRETTYMAN
Regarding the article: Utah Lawmakers: The time has come to slaughter wild horses and Iron County to feds: Remove wild horses or we will
February 22, 2017
Dear Mr. Maffley and Mr. Prettyman:
I recently read your articles in the Seattle Lake Tribune that reviewed the “discussion” lawmakers are supposedly having about slaughtering wild mustangs and burros. Unfortunately, there were some inaccuracies and issues you did not go into detail in your article that I would like to point out.
First of all, your articles couch the issue of the wild horses in the fight with cattle herders over water. The real issue is that there are too many cattle on federal lands, and they have only increased in recent years. Cattle outnumber wild horses 30:1 on the range, not 9:1 as Maffley notes in his article. The American Wild Horse Preservation actually states that this number is as high as 50:1. These are cattle that are owned by private cattle herders who pay approximately $1.82 per cow to graze on federally protected lands. These are lands that were set aside by the federal government so they are preserved for us and for our children. The government leases these lands out to private cattle herders at less than $2 a head, and instead of preserving the animals that naturally live there, they then round the horses up at the cost of millions to taxpayers.
That’s right. Millions. These roundups cost taxpayers millions, and end up brutally torturing and killing horses every single time. Rounding up these horses to eventually send them to slaughter would not be cost effective, nor would it be humane. Currently the BLM has approximately 45,000 horses in captivity, at the cost to taxpayers. These are horses who would have cost taxpayers exactly zero to leave on the range. Instead, the government decided to lease out the land to cattle herders and charge the difference of almost $50 million a year to taxpayers.
These are the cattle herders who are surprised that by overgrazing their herds, there is no more grass and no more water. Instead of reducing their herds to manageable levels, they want to round up wild horses who are realistically not affecting the overall grazing or water levels at all.
The real story should be why our government has allowed a few privatized groups to overgraze and destroy our federal lands and then call for the slaughter of an animal that is supposed to be protected by the federal government. The real story should be why the BLM does not reduce the overall amount of cattle on federal lands. The real story should be why the BLM charges so little for these cattle to destroy these federal lands, while costing taxpayers millions in roundup fees.
I look forward to reading the real story in your paper.
Elizabeth Zarkos, Ph.D.
President and Founder, Hanaeleh