By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A recently released poll showed that the majority of surveyed Americans were against the planned wild horse roundup in Wyoming.
On Monday, the Cloud Foundation, a national organization dedicated to protecting America’s wild horses and burros on public lands, released a national opinion poll commissioned by the organization that was conducted online by The Harris Poll last year.
The poll found that 69% of respondents opposed removing all wild horses from 1.5 million acres of public lands in southern Wyoming to accommodate the oil/gas and livestock industries.
“I understand the opposition and appreciate seeing the horses when I’m traveling around the desert here,” Sweetwater County Rep. Chad Banks told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “That said, I also understand the need for the round-ups. The horses have no predators and their populations just continue to expand. Much like hunting is a mechanism to keep herd sizes in check and ensure healthy populations, the round-ups are necessary to ensure that our wildlife have the forage necessary to thrive.”
Sweetwater County Sens. Tom James and John Kolb and Rep. Mark Baker did not return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment by press time.
The Cloud Foundation called on President Joe Biden’s administration to halt what will be the largest wild horse roundup in recent history.
The mega roundup, which is organized by the Bureau of Land Management, started last week in southwest Wyoming with the goal of rounding up more than 4,000 wild horses. The wild horses will be removed from areas in Sweetwater County and southern Wyoming, the Adobe Town, Salt Wells Creek, Great Divide Basin, White Mountains and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas – known as the Wyoming Checkerboard.
The survey was conducted among over 2,000 U.S adults aged 18 and older. It explained that if this roundup is implemented, America’s wild horses and burros will have lost a total of 40% of the original public lands specifically designated for their use by the 1971 Wild Horse Act which was passed to protect them.
According to the Casper Star-Tribune, removed horses will be “freeze branded, vaccinated, dewormed and given a Coggins test.” Officials will then return about 800 of the removed horses to the range, administering temporary fertility controls to all returned mares, in an effort to reduce the wild horse population in those areas to a target of 1,550–2,145.
The remaining 3,500 will be adopted out, pending medical and behavioral clearance.
“The vast majority of Americans oppose this government give-away of our public lands to the oil/gas and livestock industries,” said Dana Zarrello, Executive Director for the Cloud Foundation. “The government is pushing the same old anti-wild horse PR campaign mythology by claiming wild horses and burros must be rounded up while they allow more livestock to continue to graze in the same areas. Private, commercial livestock must be the first animals removed in these Congressionally-designated Wild Horse and Burro Herd Areas.”
Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, the agency is required to maintain a minimum population of around 3,800 wild horses in Wyoming.
“Wild horses and burros are restricted to just 11% of public lands compared to livestock which is permitted on more than 60% of public lands,” said Lisa Friday, board member of the Cloud Foundation. “Even in Congressionally-designated Wild Horse and Burro Herd Areas, livestock is given more than 80% of the forage compared to the 20% allocated to wild horses and burros. Wild horses are the poster child for this corporate greed and mismanagement of our public lands.”