Fears for Wyoming’s ‘checkerboard’ horses

Wild horses in Wyoming.
Wild horses in Wyoming. © BLM

Wild horse advocates fear it may soon be checkmate against Wyoming’s wild horses that inhabit the so-called checkerboard lands in the state.

Submissions close today on a Bureau of Land Management proposal for a roundup in the Adobe Town/Salt Wells (ATSW) Complex, which is comprised of the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek herd management areas (HMAs)

The planned roundup of about 580 horses is being considered just a week after a two-year review by an independent committee of the National Academy of Sciences found that the current strategy of capturing and stockpiling mustangs in long-term holding facilities was both costly and unsustainable.

The group, American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), fears the roundup is the first step in a plan to eliminate wild horses from 2 million acres of protected habitat.

It has been urging wild horse advocates to put in submissions to the bureau opposing the muster, with a June 10 deadline.

It would be the second roundup in the area in less than three years, the group says.

Of particular concern is the proposal in the bureau’s environmental assessment that: “All wild horses on private lands and on the checkerboard lands within the ATSW Complex would be removed.”

The AWHPC says: “Since the majority of the Salt Wells HMA is ‘checkerboard’ – alternating public and private land parcels – and since the wild horses living there cannot tell the difference between public and private land, this action will ‘zero out’ the majority of this HMA.”

It claims the bureau is planning the roundup at the behest of local graziers who successfully filed a lawsuit against the bureau seeking removal of all wild horses from the 2 million acre swath of land known as the “Wyoming Checkerboard”.

“The Adobe Town/Salt Wells roundup is step one in a destructive plan that will negatively impact half of the state’s remaining wild horses,” the AWHPC says.

The Cloud Foundation has also urged supporters to oppose the roundup, saying the only horses that would be allowed to remain under the proposal would be in the southern portion of the herd.

The foundation says the muster is to appease the interest of ranchers.

“This destructive plan would take place as early as this August, adding to the business as usual, taxpayer-funded incarceration of our American wild horses,” it says.

The foundation noted that wild horses were allocated only 20 per cent of the forage, with the rest available to ranchers.
The bureau had not assessed the rangeland health of 11 out of the 22 grazing allotments in the herd management area in at least a decade, it said.



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4 thoughts on “Fears for Wyoming’s ‘checkerboard’ horses

  • June 12, 2013 at 5:26 am

    It is quite disheartening to see the lack of responsibility the Rancher’s of Montana and Wyoming display when it comes to wild animals that were there long before they were. Whether it be Yellowstone Bison, Gray Wolves, Wild Horses or Brown Bears they can only offer ‘death’ as a conservation method.

    It is a sad state of affairs when people who live and work so close to the land have no more compassion or sense of humanity than is currently being displayed by these vagabonds.

    To live in one of the most beautiful regions on God’s green earth and have no more moral character than that of a murderer is regrettable to say the least.

    Remember their creator will be your judge!

  • June 12, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Very well said, Smokeysdad.
    IMO the BLM is breaking the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act and is turning the HMA’s over to ranching, mining, drilling and fracking. The American people are being robbed.

  • June 20, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Smokeysdad and Barbara, all too true – unfortunately it seems that money talks-just too heartbreaking.

  • September 21, 2015 at 8:42 am

    We the public will not allow Ranchers to dictate who can and can not grasse in public land.
    Mr. Rancher. You do have 200 to a 1,000 heads of cattle in comparison of other wild life and horses are just a few. Now. Your Cattle are the ones stripping the land NOT THE HORSES. BESIDES IF YOU WANT TO OWN CATTLE THAN GET YOUR OWN LAND PROPRTY AND FENCE IT AND KERP YOUR GOD DAMMD CATTLE OUT OF PUBLIC LAND. THEY ARE TAKING. ALL THE GRASDING RIGHTS AWAY FROM THE NATURAL WILD LIVES. GREED WILL GET YOU.


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