Industry Control of Public Lands
The public lands livestock industry has placed people in positions of power within the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service, and these officials ensure that millions of cows and sheep continue to graze on our public lands at $1.35 per every cow-calf pair or five sheep. The industry and mining and oil drilling companies seek to industrialize our public lands, thus neglecting the natural values and ecological benefits that make life possible and together help to ensure the future of life on our planet.
Half of what the ranchers pay is returned to them in the form of projects that are intended to benefit their businesses. This is truly an enormous taxpayer giveaway. Yet many of the ranchers remain ungrateful and become all the more demanding, as evidenced by their unwillingness to share resources found on public lands with wild horses and burros.
Reform is urgently needed to release the livestock industry’s stranglehold on public lands. One way of doing this is to enact a law that would require ranchers making use of public lands to pay fair market value for their grazing privileges. Another way is for officials to exercise their authority under CFR 4710.5 and 4710.6 to curtail or even cancel grazing permits in cases in which doing so would greatly benefit wild horses and burros and other wildlife.
On average in all the ca. 180 Herd Management Areas where wild horses and burros are allowed by the BLM to remain, 82 percent of the forage is allocated to domestic cows and sheep. This flies in the face of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which stipulates as its core intent that legal Herd Areas shall be “devoted principally” to the welfare of wild horses and burros.
Wild horses are literally being exterminated by those responsible for their protection. Oil and gas companies and the 1 percent of ranchers who commonly overgraze our public lands are behind it and seem somehow to have the BLM in their hip pocket. There are practically no wild horses and burros left.