Letter: The USFWS — not the BLM — should be tasked with managing the Onaqui herd

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Horses from the Onaqui wild horse herd, about 60 miles southwest of Tooele, near Simpson Springs, Thursday, June 5, 2014.

I read Brian Maffly’s excellent article, “BLM to remove ‘excess’ horses from Utah’s beloved Onaqui herd,” with interest.

In 1971, Congress passed the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act with the purpose “to protect and manage wild free-roaming horses and burros” and to “maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands.” The Bureau of Land Management administers for the American people 245 million acres, or one-tenth of America’s land base. Of that total, 60% (155 million acres) is often unsustainably grazed by livestock. Herd Management Areas (31.6 million acres), in theory prioritized wild horses and other native wildlife, comprise approximately only 13% of BLM lands.

While the BLM’s mission includes sustainable, scientifically credible management of a spectrum of “multiple uses,” the agency’s deference, some would say devotion, to livestock grazing is legendary. Their record on wild horse care is dismal, as demonstrated in the current Onaqui roundup. The case should be made to Secretary of Interior Haaland to transfer management of Herd Management Areas to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (USFWS) a sister Department of Interior agency, whose mission is “to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.”

While the USFWS record is sometimes troublesome, its primary responsibility is wildlife conservation and offers Americans added leverage in sound wildlife-related management decisions.

Kim Crumbo, Ogden

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