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Utah Group Pushes to Protect Wild Horses from Intentional Shootings

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Wednesday, November 2, 2022   

At least 16 wild horses have been shot dead in Utah's rural San Juan County since the beginning of the year, and one group working to protect them suspects there are more to be found.

Advocates for Wild Equines is not only asking for state or federal protections for the horses, but is also demanding a full investigation into the shootings.

Lynda Logan, a member of the group, said it is unfortunate the animals' carcasses have been found only because of the efforts of some private citizens.

"It's just being able to cover enough ground to determine if there are more bodies out there," Logan pointed out. "I know that they are using a drone to assist with that. Just the two brothers, not the authorities as far as I know."

The motive behind the killings is still unclear, but Logan acknowledged wild horses are considered to be pests by some ranchers, who feel they compete for grazing rights with other livestock. It is estimated Utah has about 3,500 wild horses.

Logan thinks it is very likely more horse carcasses will be found.

The wild horses, which are federally protected today, were identified and included in a 1971 law.

Logan noted the law may protect them from being killed, but not from being rounded up and removed. The horses found dead in Utah were in a region with no Herd Management Area, a designation which indicates it is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. Logan explained it means the horses are seen as "feral" or "unauthorized livestock."

"If the horses were truly viewed as a protected national species, instead of a pest, things would be much different," Logan contended.

Logan hopes the public and Congress can pressure agencies, like the BLM and the Forest Service, to come up with more sustainable solutions to protect wild horses. She added the herds help the agencies control wildfires and locate water.


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