Gov. Gary Herbert recently received criticism for his supposedly harsh comments about the federal government's "wild horse" program. In reality, his comments were too mild, rather than too severe.

Doesn't the term "wild" apply to an animal that thrives in its natural habitat, absent the intrusive hand of man? The government’s horse herds are descended from domestic (not wild) animals, which either strayed (or were intentionally loosed) from their original owners' care.

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The government's handling and management of these animals is intensive, intrusive and expensive. It involves constant supervision by Bureau of Land Managment personnel, fertility-control injections, selection of desirable stallions, gathering and corralling the herds via helicopter, the feeding of excess horses (at taxpayer expense) and the promotion of an adoption program (which has never worked adequately or as intended).

Before the enactment of the Wild Horse and Burro law, local cowboys would gather excess horses from the ranges and sell them at auction, either for riding use or pet food. This practice cost the taxpayer nothing.

The folklore regarding the "wild" horse is largely a myth concocted by eccentric horse worshippers, aided by cement-bound romantics who once read a children’s book about a horse that could count and play jokes on people.

Frank Gardiner