I was going to spend a little more time on my blog focusing on the positive before getting into the more heavy topics concerning what few wild horses are left on the range. Life apparently has other plans.
This weekend a foal was euthanized (read: shot) at Sand Wash Basin. Think that’s upsetting? Read on.
The foal was euthanized because he managed to get baling wire wrapped around his neck which was strangling him to death. This makes Little Colorado the second horse in Sand Wash Basin to be killed in the past six months from wire. (See Nancy’s blog on Greasewood for more details)
Now how would enough wire to kill two horses end up on the range? Public land is managed for “multiple use” and cattle and sheep are allowed to graze on public land during certain periods of the year for a nominal fee. Do try to remember the words ‘multiple use’ – buzz words that the BLM just loves to use. Get invovled in the wild horse movement and I guarantee you that the phrase will want to make you tear your hair out within a month.
We are told that multiple use is a good thing. These ranchers are truly the stewards of the land. They have to keep the range in good condition, you see, for they will be using it in the years to come and have to keep it nice.
Raise you hand if you’ve ever rented anything out to anyone for any period of time. Now lower your hand – you look ridiculous and everyone is staring at you. Instead, ask yourself this: how well did the rentor care for the item they used? Oftentimes this can be measured by a) the type of person they are b) the amount of time they rent and c) the item. Property is not given the same care as a dress that is borrowed for the weekend.
My family has had another family rent our land out for cattle. But looking after them got to be a constant job. Trash was left everywhere. Roads were expanded. More cattle were put on then were supposed to be. As time went on, the problems got worse.
Now these were wonderful people and knowledge farmers. I like them and hold no grudges. The trouble is that when something doesn’t truly belong to you, you don’t take care of it as well as you would if it was yours. Ask anyone who’s rented anything, be it land or a house, and they can tell you similar stories.
So sure, these public welfare ranchers aren’t a bad lot. But they sure don’t clean up after themselves. I’ve never been to a range that wasn’t litered with wire and other trash. When I was in Sand Wash Basin last, I almost shredded a tire on 4 feet of fresh barbed wire that was just lying on the road, not feet from where Cowboy had been grazing the day before.
This is where the BLM comes in. If this land is to be used by ranchers, then it is the job of the BLM to ensure that they clean up after themselves and that they only put the allowed number of animals on for the prescribed time they are allotted. When they go, they take their junk with them. Hell, I’m not allowed to leave used toilet paper on the range, but these ranchers get aware with untold yards of wire just left strewn about? That is frankly unacceptable. If the BLM won’t enforce their own policies, then the agency must clean up the range themselves year-round and also start reseeding projects to undo the grazing damage (looking at you sheep). And don’t think for a second that I give a crap if that reseeding is native vs. non-native grass. If the ranchers and locals want native grasses, then they should quit destroying the land and while they’re at it, quit blaming 250 horses for all the damage to the range.
But I am told that I am to feel sorry for these ranchers. They protect the land, all while working their little hineys off just to make it in this world. Ranchers on public lands are the backbone of our economy. Without them, weathering the elements on the range, infrastructure would collapse! Mmhmm.
As you would expect from the backbone of America, these ranchers act like children. They whine and complain and bring lawsuits over a trifling number of wild horses that get to live on a tiny fraction of
their public lands. And when they don’t get their way, they sue. (Note to ranchers: if you have not been involved in any of the above and utilize public land, please email me. I’d love to meet a rancher who utilizies public lands and is not a jackass. It has yet to happen.)
Well, so sorry princess, but property taxes went up again this year for my family, and I really don’t care about the problems of a group of people who have to pay a piddling $2/head per month. Try paying $20/head a month like the rest of us. Heck, I’d like to see these ranchers just pay for the administration costs to use this land. The 100 mililon difference between what they pay and what the program costs is coming out of tax dollars, after all.
Am I being unfair? I don’t think so. I’m being honest. Sure it’s a little bit raw for a girl who prides herself on logic and analysis, but even mathematicians are entitled to an emotion or two. A baby died because some sorry excuse for a sheep herder couldn’t be bothered to take care of the land he proudly declares himself the steward of.
As Americans, are we really okay with that?