Threats Run Free On The Western Ranges

parking lot of Fallon Livestock Exchange after sorting on unbranded horses

parking lot of Fallon Livestock Exchange after sorting on unbranded horses

(Editorial by Wild Horse Education President Laura Leigh)

Today reports were published in Utah where a BLM wrangler was threatened by “masked men.” One of the articles I read was in the Salt Lake Tribune and it read in part:

“With anti-government sentiments roiling in the aftermath of Cliven Bundy’s Nevada standoff, government workers in western Utah are stripping BLM logos from their vehicles after two motorists brandished a gun and displayed a threatening sign at a federal wrangler who was driving Tuesday in Juab County.

The wrangler was driving a load of horses and burros north on Interstate 15 about 11 a.m. near Mills when a dark blue Dodge 1500 extended-cab pickup pulled up alongside the wrangler. The two occupants “told him he was No. 1 with that certain gesture,” said Eric Reid, the wrangler’s supervisor at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Fillmore Field Office.

The pickup fell back and the wrangler continued north. A few minutes later, the pickup reappeared, Reid said. The men, wearing hoods, held up a sign, apparently scrawled on a piece of paper, that read, “You need to die.” One of the men pointed what appeared to be a Glock handgun at the wrangler.

The wrangler tried to make out a license plate number, but the plate had been covered with duct tape, Reid said.

After watching the pickup drive past Nephi, the wrangler reported the threat. The Utah Highway Patrol searched for the pickup but has not found it.”

At the beginning of April we had threats coming from Iron County Commissioners against wild horses claiming there was an outlandishly fictitious number of wild horses in Iron County and that that county was “taking matters into their own hands.”

Then we get the threat from another Utah San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman who organized an illegal all-terrain vehicle ride through a river canyon rich in archaeological ruins to protest what he argues is an “overbearing federal government.”

Gov Herbert (Rueters)

Gov Herbert (Rueters)

Then we have Utah Governor Herbert threatening wild horses throughout the state saying “keep ranges open for livestock grazing.”. In a report by KCSG TV in Salt Lake, “More than 7,000 citizens faxed Utah Governor Gary Herbert in less than 24 hours yesterday, urging him to back off his attack on federally protected wild horses in his state. Faxes poured in from as far away as Europe and from states as diverse as Alaska and Florida, reminding Governor Herbert that Utah’s mustangs are part of the state’s allure, and warning that Utah tourism will suffer if the state does not reverse its anti-mustang stand.”

Yes, this is an election year and we have chest beating going on left and right. The problem here is that our elected officials are repeatedly doing something called “inciting to illegal activity,” and that is a crime.

Next Utah ranchers (later joined by County Commissions) filed litigation against wild horses.

Family... it is everything to horses on the range

Family… it is everything to horses on the range

Then we have BLM cave and fast track an EA for wild horse removals. (You can tell BLM what you think by following our link here:

Threats against ones person are not uncommon when involved in issues surrounding public land. I myself have received death threats and had my vehicle vandalized while attending a roundup. But this is different. Those that feel entitled to behave inappropriately have been bolstered. Bundy has his cows and Iron County got what it wanted.

My personal view is one where I am asking for accountable, lawful actions for wild horses and burros. I am asking that the true intent of law be followed instead of catering to the “entitled.” How can I make that demand if my own actions are not lawful and accountable?

In my travels I have experienced some very intense moments of frustration and outright anger. I have been bullied and threatened. But we stay the course. In the last 4 years we have brought, and won, more litigation than the BLM has seen ever in that time frame. Our credibility with the courts is increasing.

Actions like those perpetuated by those claiming to uphold the Constitution of the United States as they hold legal office is simply not acceptable. Threatening a BLM employee driving a stock trailer filled with wild horses and burros is just wrong.

As tensions increase we will stay the course. We will gather the needed information to fight these battles, and win them, in the Judicial system. In the long run those victories will be worth more than the paper they are printed on…. and we will see how long the livestock of bullies remain on our public land.

In a very strange way perhaps these bullies have done wild horse advocates a “favor” by showing the American public “who” is reaping a private profit off of our public resource.

~~~ Wild Horse Education is devoted to gaining protections from abuse, slaughter and extinction for our American Wild Horses and Burros.