This opinion piece was written and submitted by Rock Springs resident Tim Savage.
There are a lot of videos and photos of Red Desert free roaming wild horses available online. Which is a good thing because very soon none of us will be seeing them live and in person anymore.
BLM is attempting the largest horse roundup in its history, 4,400 head, or all the horses on nearly four million acres of mostly federally managed land near Rock Springs. The cost to the taxpayer will be $4.5 million for the roundup and $171 million to store the horses in holding pens or pastures for life. At the same time the BLM is being pressured to increase the quantity of livestock grazing in this same area.
Eight hundred and fifty horses will be returned to the desert after the mares have been treated with fertility drugs keeping them from dropping a foal for three to four years. This means the horse herd numbers will continue to decline as deaths exceed births.
What happens to the 3600 horses the BLM doesn’t return to the Red Desert? Most will be crammed into a feed-lot like environment for the rest of their lives where the government will pay a private company $5 a day per horse for the rest of their lives. Costing the government fifty million dollars or more. Some will be adopted by good people trying to do the right thing, some will end up at a slaughterhouse.
Thousands of people come to Sweetwater County to see a bit of the old west, to see wild horses on the open range. They want to recreate here, spend their travel dollars here, helping our local economy. They won’t be coming here anymore.
They will be going to see wild horses in Cody instead. BLM has promised to maintain a “small nonreproducing herd” along the White Mountain Wild Horse Loop Road. Maybe that will be enough for a few tourists.