A Utah congressman intends to reintroduce legislation that would place wild horses under states’ and Native American tribes’ jurisdiction rather than in the hands of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The Free-Roaming Wild Horse and Burro Act if 1971, federally protects wild horse and burro herds residing on Western rangelands and places them under BLM jurisdiction. In recent years, some ranchers have brought federal lawsuits alleging that under BLM management wild herds have caused ecological damage to rangelands also used to graze domestic livestock. Some states’ governments have also joined or initiated similar lawsuits alleging that wild horse herds have caused damage that threatens the ecological balance of wildlife residing on rangelands.
Last July, Representative Chris Stewart (R-Utah) introduced the Wild Horse Management Act of 2014. The bill would have preserved all protections under the 1971 act, but would have allowed states to implement horse and burro management plans that address the specific needs of their states. The proposed legislation died in the 113th Congress.
On Feb. 22, Stewart wrote an opinion column in the Southern Utah Independent newspaper promising to reintroduce the legislation into the U.S. House during the 114th Congress. Stewart is a member of the U.S. House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.
In the column, Stewart said states and tribes have effectually managed wildlife and can implement a “safe, practical, and cost effective” way to manage wild horse herd populations. Stewart’ also said he believes the approach would also promote partnerships between ranchers and oth