Gov. Gary Herbert slammed for wild horse comments

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  • Diana Kline Kansas City, MO
    May 20, 2014 1:07 p.m.

    I see so many confused people posting here. We used to have over 2 million Federally-protected wild horses and burros. Now we have 22,000. That's a 99% drop in numbers folks. The problem is the Welfare Ranchers would like zero horses on our public lands. They are only paying a measly $1.35 per head of cattle per month. Let's get real -- who can feed and water any animal for $1.35 per month? Only a Welfare Rancher can. The rest of us could not even feed a gerbil for that amount per month.

    Instead of being thankful for their subsidies, they are trouble-makers who need to get themselves under control, or else we need to get them under control. My personal feelings are that a modest grazing fee increase to $5.00 per head per month would wake these people up and settle them down. They are acting like this is their personal land, and it isn't.

  • Jerome from Layton Layton, UT
    May 2, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    Horses went extinct here about 10 to 20,000 years ago. Why? Maybe the same thing that killed the Clovis Man. They were reintroduced by the Spanish settlers about 475 years ago. Most of the time since then they were not "managed" except by some of the Indians.

    If you are a horse, the last thing you want to meet is someone from the Government coming to "help" you.

  • Beaver Native St. George, UT
    May 1, 2014 2:10 p.m.

    The ancient horse became extint in America. For whatever reason, it failed to adapt to the changing North American environment.

    The problem with reintroducing the modern horse to the land and calling it a native species is that the modern horse bears little resemblance to the horse that once existed in America. It has changed drastically through the many generations of selective breeding, combined with natural evolution.

    As for oral Indian legends, I imagine that many of the legends have crept into or changed in the Indian culture through the generations. These same legends talk of animals talking to and turning into humans. Legends seldom reflect actual history.

    Fossil evidence, drawings and figurines and even stories may reflect the existence of horses before becoming extinct, but they also reflect a lack of fossils or other evidence of a continuing presence. Thus, by my definition, the introduction of the MODERN horse cannot be accurately classified as a reintroduction of a native species. If you want to reintroduce wild horses to North America, you need to go back in time and find a wild horse from before the time they became extinct and before all the selective breeding occured.

  • Rural sport fan DUCHESNE, UT
    April 30, 2014 7:46 p.m.


    Scientifically, horses are deemed to have been extinct in North America, no matter what you think. It is not a theory that Spaniards re-introduced horses to North America, its a fact. And our Federal government did not make horses extinct, that's just an utterly ridiculous statement!

    The rest of your information is essentially just as much fantasy as that was. Utah may have 22 million acres of Fed land..but most of that is NOT permitted for grazing, its desert and mountains. And wild horses are not limited to an "allowed" area...they are wild, they go where they want.

    Feel free to come on out here and take a look at what we mean. There's national parks and other stuff you can visit. You might learn something.

  • Rural sport fan DUCHESNE, UT
    April 30, 2014 7:33 p.m.

    Jan Windsong: You DO understand that when Marco Polo talks of Indians...he means people from India, right? They had horses, they traded with the Arab and Chinese worlds, as did the Mongols and Huns, all of whom had horses.

    But, there were none in North America for several thousand years prior to the Spanish Conquest.

  • MarybethDevlin MIAMI, FL
    April 30, 2014 6:55 p.m.

    Scientifically, the horse is deemed a native species because it originated and evolved in North America. The theory that horses went extinct but were reintroduced by the Spanish Conquistadors reflects the Eurocentric narrative. First-Nation / Native-American oral history maintains that horses survived well into the Common Era before being exterminated by our Federal government. (I would provide a link to a paper in this regard, but the comments-function does not seem to accept links.)

    Commercial livestock grazing is permitted on 22,000,000 acres of BLM-administered lands in Utah. Per animal unit months, BLM authorizes 216,668 cows or calves to graze, which indicates an annualized stocking-rate of one cow or calf per 102 acres.

    In contrast, wild horses are allowed on 2,100,000 acres of BLM-managed lands in Utah. Per animal unit months, BLM allows 1,956 wild horses or foals, corresponding to a stocking-rate of one horse or foal per 1,074 acres -- an area encompassing nearly two square miles.

    Cattle have 10 times more grazing land, and they outnumber wild horses 110 to 1.

  • JanWindsong Placerville, CA
    April 30, 2014 3:23 p.m.

    I also want to point out that cattle are harder on a range than horses ever could be inasmuch as horses are migratory animals and cattle are squatters.

    And Marco Polo, in his record of his exploration, discusses the trade the Chinese had with the Native Americas for their horses. In other words, Native Americans back in the day (Marco Polo days) traded their horses to the Chinese.

  • JanWindsong Placerville, CA
    April 30, 2014 3:09 p.m.

    The little chart up there is missing a few very important pieces of information - that for all you scientists and "range" experts. Cattle and sheep. How many? The horses are a PROTECTED component of the land. Cattle and sheep are there by discretion, and are an introduced species who had so little ability to survive that all predators have to be slaughtered to accommodate their stupidity. And now, the wild horses are paying the price as well. The chicken has come home to roost. The millions of cattle and sheep and developers are seeing the sunset on their scheme and nothing will change the fact that public land grazers and developers have desecrated the public trust. If not for the horses, many of you sitting in on this discussion would not have made it across the country to Utah or parts beyond. Many of our leaders would not have been so gallant. Rethink the problem - your solution won't work. Keep your hands off the PROTECTED wild horses and burros.

  • Allen C Christensen American Fork, UT
    April 30, 2014 1:54 p.m.

    By education I am a PhD animal scientist. Governor Herbert recommendations are sound. People have also forgotten that when our economy hit the skids in 2008, there were those horse owners who took their horses to the range areas and turned them loose. They did not have the heart to destroy them. Neither could they be sold for meat at that time. Clearly mares that were turned loose became acquainted with wild stallions and the horse population increased. We have the same problem with cats whose former owners that no longer wanted them thought that our home in the country might find someone who was sympathetic to a starving, hungry cat and they dropped them off. My wife has a kind, caring heart and she has taken care of them. I am not giving you my address because we do not need anymore wild cats. The wild deer also make raising a garden difficult. The deer love our roses. The Department of Fish and Game does not reimburse us for feeding their deer. All the Governor requested was common sense in wild horse management and I'm for it.

  • SummitHigh Salt Lake City, UT
    April 30, 2014 11:06 a.m.

    I'm curious, for those advocating general protection of feral horse populations, what are your feelings on the destruction of desert tortoise habitat by these same horses?

  • chickenlittle Salem, UT
    April 30, 2014 10:40 a.m.

    @ Mtn Tracker

    Cattle are not native to North America either.The better meat is Bison.Cattlemen do kill Bison.They kill any animal that gets in the way of making a profit.In history it also included people.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    April 30, 2014 10:18 a.m.

    "how about taking down more cows" We do that's what McDonald uses in their hamburgers?

  • Mtn Tracker Ephraim, UT
    April 30, 2014 10:14 a.m.

    @ chickenlittle
    "Cattle ranchers are about greed, all they care about is money" ??? That is the most heinous comment iv'e read on this site for a while. Clearly you've never known a cattle rancher or his family. If cattle were brought here for money and greed, why would ranchers allow horses to graze on their permitted land. If they were about money and greed they would kill every wild horse off. So what money are these horses good for anyway. How do they benefit anyone? They're not native to the land. They're not used for meat. They compete with antelope, deer, elk for food also. Why do we need them. They won't go extinct if we eliminate them. There are plenty of them right there in your home town. Buffalo were not killed off just because cattle were better meat. They were killed off for their hides. People in Europe went crazy for them. Buffalo aren't as tame or manageable. And last I checked, buffalo herds are doing good. Sorry but your argument isn't valid.

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    April 30, 2014 9:54 a.m.

    VickiB: "It's to much of a temptation for ranchers to overgraze the land to up their profit." Now if you just think about this; if the rancher overgrazes his land, then his cattle will starve. starving cattle can't be sold as food very easily. a well fed healthy animal is worth much more at the auction ( where cattle are sold) than an underfed, starving animal. I think that your comments show extreme prejudice and ignorance of what ranchers and farmers do with the land that they manage. It is in their own best interest to maintain the land in the best possible condition so that the profit that you so decry can be maintained.

  • Mtn Tracker Ephraim, UT
    April 30, 2014 9:54 a.m.


    I'm sure since you live in Miami you would know all about the issues we face with wild horses. So far everyone who's commented favorably for wild horses doesn't live within 500 miles of one. Thank you for telling us there is no overpopulation of wild horses. We wouldn't have any idea what the population is without the so called "impossible data" you mentioned. The fact that we live within 30 minutes of a huge heard that costs tax payers millions every year to manage is enough evidence for us. Sorry but we can't help but laugh when environmentalists try to cook the books on this. The proof is in the peyote my friend!

  • chickenlittle Salem, UT
    April 30, 2014 9:10 a.m.

    Cattle were brought here too.Its to bad the Bison was killed off it was better meat.Cattle ranchers are just about greed.They care less about anything else but money...

  • dansimp Layton, UT
    April 30, 2014 8:47 a.m.

    MaryBethDevlin What you say about the horse being a part of American Indian culture before European's is simply not true. The horse cultures of the Great Plains evolved as the spread of horses brought by the Spanish moved across the continent. I'm really not sure where in the world you heard your ideas, but they have no basis in any accepted anthropology.

  • MCW2 St George, UT
    April 30, 2014 8:26 a.m.

    I agree with happymomto9 "psychological problem".

    People have bias from things they have never experienced.

  • MCW1 St George, UT
    April 30, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    I FEEL we should haul the excess horses to Hollywood Blvd, New York State (add your own destination) and let them roam free in their backyard.

  • golong Washington, UT
    April 30, 2014 8:08 a.m.

    It was a mistake, in this country, to ever get into "protecting" any wildlife. This is a dead end policy that creates conflict and punishes legitimate business and agricultural interests in favor of protecting some animal that contributes nothing to our lives, our economy, our health or our well being. Why on earth do we protect horses? who's goofy idea was that? why do we protect anything? to what purpose? to what end? it makes no sense.

  • Bird man Laurel, MT
    April 30, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    Too many cows, on our public land. Not horses, how about taking down more cows. Cows are not indigenous to North America . The Buffalo did not exist west of the Rockies . So this historic range did not evolve with large herds of grazers .

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 30, 2014 7:43 a.m.

    I don't see any of these whiners stepping out to adopt these horses. Maybe they ought to put up and if not, shut up.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    April 30, 2014 7:38 a.m.

    Stewardship means making choices. The alternative is to let them continue to overgraze and then die slow deaths by starvation. Here in Wisconsin, our winter was quite harsh. On recent a walk in my woods I found a complete, picked-clean skeleton of a buck that didn't make it. I guess, given a choice, he might have appreciated a bullet to slow starvation deep snow and wind chill temps 40-50 below zero that lasted for nearly a month.

  • VickieB SLC, UT
    April 30, 2014 7:01 a.m.

    Horses were native to this land, became extinct and were re-introduced. We do it all the time when native animals become extinct in certain areas, like the big horn sheep.

    The problem here is grazing rights. The government should never give grazing rights on land set aside for the wild horses. It's to much of a temptation for ranchers to overgraze the land to up their profit.

  • elgreco grand junction, CO
    April 30, 2014 6:03 a.m.

    Something I can finally agree with Gov. Herbert on. Wild horses are feral animals and like any other feral animals, their numbers need to be controlled lest they destroy the range and themselves. BLM spends millions of taxpayer dollars annually gathering,feeding and stabling these animals and frankly the adoption rates are dropping. If we were talking about feral pigs or goats here, no one would be concerned. The Wild Horse and Burro Act needs to be revisited and revised so that sane and sensible management of these animals can occur. I like horses as much as anyone but I love my pristine deserts even more.

  • MarybethDevlin MIAMI, FL
    April 29, 2014 11:03 p.m.

    American Indian oral history informs us that horses survived the Ice Age in North America -- just as they did in Eurasia -- and were a part of Native American culture at the time the European explorers arrived. To our great shame, we learn from the oral history that, in the 19th century, the Federal government carried out an extermination-campaign against the indigenous horses to prevent the Indian people from leaving the newly-established reservations. There is no overpopulation of wild horses in Utah or anywhere else. BLM's biologically-impossible "data" consist of inflated estimates ... based on extrapolations ... employing assumptions ... according to projections ... derived from computer-models. The figures even include unborn foals -- fetuses. The so-called "appropriate management levels" (AMLs) are set below minimum-viable population (MVP) -- so far below MVP, in fact, that the herds' genetic viability is in jeopardy. Cattlemen would do well to invite wild horses to graze alongside their cattle. A Princeton University study found that cattle grazed together with equids gained more weight -- 60-percent more. As for program-costs, interestingly enough, the Department of Defense spends nearly the same amount ... every hour.

  • Beaver Native St. George, UT
    April 29, 2014 9:34 p.m.

    @Virgil Wolf,

    Per the article you referenced:

    "The last prehistoric North American horses died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene, but by then Equus had spread to Asia, Europe, and Africa." Your claim that it coevolved with its North American habitat is bogus.

    The fact is that the modern horse is NOT native to America. Having owned horses, I can vouch that the modern horse is also not friendly to native habitat. My cousin also bought some wild mustangs and placed them on my dad's property. To my knowledge he did not try to tame them, but fed them regularly during the winter. They had their run of 160 acres, so they were not unreasonably confined, but, being around humans, they lost their fear of them and would come running up to us whenever they saw us. Being fed by humans, they lost their wild characteristics. Thus, the modern horse is not wild by nature; only when left on their own do they display wild characteristics.

    Having raised horses and cattle, I can vouch that horses are tougher on the environment and eat much more than cattle.

  • happymomto9 Saratoga Springs, UT
    April 29, 2014 8:07 p.m.

    horse meat is also very high in protein and extremely lean. we had to put a horse down and he is now in our freezer.
    with so many low income and hungry people i do not understand why these animals are not being put to good use. my kids love the meat. i can eat it if i put it in spaghetti sauce and chili. it's really a psychological problem.

  • Virgil Wolf Cottonwood, AZ
    April 29, 2014 7:39 p.m.

    There is fossil evidence that horses originated in North America and as published in an article The Surprising History of America's Wild Horses by Jay F. Kirkpatrick and Patricia M. Fazio 24 July 2008 in LiveScience "The fact that horses were domesticated before they were reintroduced matters little from a biological viewpoint. Indeed, domestication altered them little, as we can see by how quickly horses revert to ancient behavioral patterns in the wild....But the two key elements for defining an animal as a native species are where it originated and whether or not it coevolved with its habitat. E. caballus can lay claim to doing both in North America." In addition, there are studies that suggest that wild horses contribute positively to the ecological stability of their environment. Some of the Governor's statements about wild horse populations aren't factually accurate.

  • Diana Kline Kansas City, MO
    April 29, 2014 7:38 p.m.

    Thank you for writing this article, Lisa Riley Roche. Our native and Federally-protected wild Mustangs and burros needs to be protected. Thank you also American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and The Cloud Foundation. The BLM has no evidence of excess wild horses. In fact, eight herds have numbers that are too low, as do many of the burros.

    My personal opinion is that cattlemen need to run cattle on their own lands, and not on our public lands.

    April 29, 2014 6:09 p.m.

    Sounds like Gov. Herbert knows what he is talking about. He isn't suggesting getting rid of all the horses, but holding the feds to the levels they claim are appropriate. Once the feds get hold of controlling an animal population it becomes political to an extreme and every animal they "manage" becomes a political football to be used by extremists who value critters more than hard working people. I would suggest that Antelope Island is an excellent example of good management by the State of Utah.

  • Silence Dogood Caliente, NV
    April 29, 2014 5:55 p.m.

    We had 20 acres of prime pasture when I was a kid. It would sustain 20 cows.....or 2 horses. So it's safe to say that a horse takes as much land as 10 cows...and there is absolutely no benefit to having them on public land other than it makes a couple of special interest groups "happy." Horses and burrows were NEVER meant to be wild. It a romanticized idea when as a matter of fact these wild horses need humans to properly care for them. Wild horses are very often starving, diseased, and lame. It's cruel to leave them on public lands. They need to be managed. They need to be extremely limited or eliminated on public lands. Horses were never ever meant to be "wild."

  • small school fan Duchesne, UT
    April 29, 2014 5:43 p.m.

    We have socialized medicine like the Germans, why not eat horses like they do, as well?

    Of course, the BLM will have to run that to.

  • GaryO Virginia Beach, VA
    April 29, 2014 5:32 p.m.

    Darn it. I have to agree with a Republican. Sometimes, they have good ideas.

    What's the point in having so many wild horses running around? A few wild horses is cool. Thousands is an infestation, and if left to breed, their numbers will not decrease.

    At the very least, they should be captured and neutered, and then released.

  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    April 29, 2014 5:28 p.m.

    Cattle are raised for the benefit of feeding the population. Wild horses are preserved for what purpose exactly? So there! Unless there's a special need to preserve those animals, then I don't see any reason why their population should not be controlled for the benefit of the ranchers cattle. Or else start slaughtering them and sell them for meat too. If we don't eat them we can sell them to countries that do and grow the economy. Other countries are eating and selling horse meat, so why not us? No one is complaining about slaughtering cattle for food and it should be the same for the wild horses because it would be for a good cause...putting food on you plate. Thank you!

  • Y Ask Y Provo, UT
    April 29, 2014 5:15 p.m.

    Wild horses ought to be well managed, along with other wildlife. And this should include efforts to change public perceptions about eating horse meat, which is very lean and tasty.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    April 29, 2014 5:02 p.m.

    Wild horses are not indigenous to the West. They have no predators and they live a long time, often over 30 years. Without control of some kind, they will eventually over run the fragile flora and fauna of the desert areas. Since they are not managed they are much more harmful than cattle which are carefully managed and the populations controlled. Populations will need to be controlled even if the cattle were not there. The only control of the horse population is starvation.

    Horse slaughter facilities need to be restarted not only to deal with the wild horses, but also domestic horses which are often disposed of with a backhoe.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    April 29, 2014 5:02 p.m.

    How about a horse hunting permit, If there is money in it Utah and our legislature will usually be all over it. I've eaten horse meat before, it wasn't bad.

  • Beaver Native St. George, UT
    April 29, 2014 4:22 p.m.

    Horses are neither native nor endangered and they are not generally considered a wild species either. While I would enjoy seeing a herd of horses in the wild, there is no reason to give them special protected status in the U.S. All domestic wild horses came from domesticated stock lines and the more there are, the less resources for native species. While they may have their place, their numbers on public land should be controlled, just as cattle grazing on public land should be controlled. I agree with dansimp. I don't believe the wild horses should be eliminated on public land, but their numbers should be controlled. If roundups are not adequately controlling them, we need to find another way to control their numbers.

  • environmental idiot Sanpete, UT
    April 29, 2014 4:08 p.m.

    Wild horse are much worse on the range than cattle and sheep ever will be. Horses have teeth top and bottom allowing them to graze much more efficiently and nip vegetation to the soil surface. The program costs $80 million a year to operate. If horse advocates want wild horses they should pay for it with there own money. It doesn't matter how big the pasture is, when you put a horse in it, it's just a larger corral.

  • deseret pete robertson, Wy
    April 29, 2014 3:51 p.m.

    I think that are very few real ( Wild ) horses anymore. Many of them have inbred with horses that have mixed with them for various reasons.Lets get real about how many of these are really as valuable as some propose or so important to save.

  • Red San Antonia, TX
    April 29, 2014 3:49 p.m.

    Can we get back to living without everyone being offended about everything in the world?

    Get to work. Go solve a problem.

  • Mtn Tracker Ephraim, UT
    April 29, 2014 3:47 p.m.

    Thank you Governor! This is why Utah is a great place to live. We have a great man with a balanced perspective about these situations. Wild horse advocacy groups are no different than any other environmental groups. They want to control people, not animals. They could care less about what happens to the animal. None of them have an answer to how to manage them. These horses are NOT our heritage! They are about the same as a varmint. They bring little to no value to our economy or ecosystem. They're not indigenous to our area. They compete with a lot more than just cattle for food, and they eat incredible amounts more than their natural competition (deer, elk, desert sheep, etc). Please educate yourself before joining these groups!

  • dansimp Layton, UT
    April 29, 2014 3:42 p.m.

    I love horses. I think they are awesome. The idea of wild horses hearkens back to romantic visions of the wild west. Wonderful stuff. But, I wonder if everyone remembers that they are feral animals. I mean there weren't herds of horses roaming the wild plains naturally, they all stem from escaped, or abandoned horses that were brought here by someone. Its not a lot different from the boa's in Florida, except people think non-native snakes in Florida are creepy, and wild horses on the plains are cool. This is not to say we should kill them all, but I think there should be some perspective of the importance of wild horses.